With the recent release of Kong: Skull Island, and its exciting connections to the newly rebooted Godzilla franchise, I’ve decided to review the Godzilla film that kicked it all off.
The film centers around Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a bomb expert working for the Navy, who goes to Japan to aid his delirious father Joe (Bryan Cranston). Unfortunately for them, both get involved in the awakening of Godzilla, the king of the monsters, who has risen to combat two rival monsters called MUTO. The world must now brace itself for the level of catastrophic destruction that lies ahead.
It seemed as though director Gareth Edwards was going for a more minimalist and reserved approach towards all the combat. Instead of seeing the action sequences between Godzilla and other monsters up close, the camera captures it all from a distance. This is a fascinating idea, one that has never been implemented well in a monster movie of this scale. Unfortunately where this idea falters is in the on-screen presence of Godzilla, as we are given only eight whole minutes of Godzilla. The film seemed much more content with hinting at monsters and talking about monsters than actually showing us any monsters.
And, despite his lack in presence, every moment that Godzilla was on-screen, was utterly fantastic. The action was dark, gritty, and epically proportioned. You could feel the weight of every slash and punch, and when a monster fell, it fell hard. There were a few moments where the visuals got a little too dark and hard to see, but that’s just a nitpick. Overall, the few minutes of combat we see Godzilla partake in is well worth all the buildup and development.
Something small I noticed very early on was the choice in monsters to play as the antagonists. They could’ve very easily chosen to use past Godzilla monsters, yet instead decided to go with completely new designs. I thought this was an excellent and respectable choice, one that turns out very nicely.
The film also likes focusing more on the human elements of the story. This is to be expected, seeing as how we only get about ten minutes of Godzilla on-screen. While I did find the characterization of the first half to be pretty great, it falls apart halfway through the film. Reason being, they killed off the established main character (played marvelously by Bryan Cranston) half an hour into the film. Again, this is an interesting concept, one that plays out pretty spectacularly in a very cool scene.
However, Cranston’s character was the only protagonist to get a lot of development, so when he dies we are left with a relatively bland cast. They weren’t written horribly by any means, but if you’re only going to tease the audience with Godzilla and give us over an hour with these people, they should be written much better than this.
If you’re looking for a more traditional kind of monster movie to see, I’d recommend you go and watch Kong: Skull Island. Even though I felt the characters were very dull in Kong, at least you get to see more monster movie action sequences. If you’re someone who doesn’t mind over an hours worth of buildup for an awesome climax and an action-packed showdown, I’d go ahead and give Godzilla a watch.
The Verdict: B