Did this movie do Godzilla right? Yes, better than the previous Godzilla. How’s that for a ringing endorsement? (It isn’t.)
In case you find the concept of reboots confusing, consider Godzilla’s long past as a remake, a reboot and a reimagining, all at once. The overgrown lizard suffered many iterations since his first appearance in 1954: including a 1970s Saturday morning cartoon, stop-motion photography figures, men in heavy suits, comic book images, rock star subjects, and was even the subject of video games. Sometimes he’s a hero, and sometimes a menace…although with anyone that massive, collateral damage just happens.
At this point the makers of Godzilla are knee-deep in what they call a Monsterverse. 2014’s Godzilla was the first in this shared universe, and the story blows past Kong: Skull Island, and on to a multi-mega-monster-lineup in 2020.
But what about the 2014 Godzilla in the Monsterverse series?
I enjoyed this in a nice-to-have-on-in-the-background sort of way. Having just seen Avengers Endgame after many viewings, I was super-sensitive to each time a character said, “Whatever it takes,” (which I think was 4 times in Godzilla). And it didn’t take long to notice poor Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olson) once again didn’t have anything important to do. Instead of looking mad while running, here she looked scared while running. What happened to those scarlet Infinity Stone blasts, girl? Would have been ‘handy’ – no pun intended.
Unfortunately, her role here, like every human but Ken Watanabe’s, was filler. Even the main soldier, who’s name I can’t be bothered to look up, was only there to show off some giant blue trembling Elijah Wood Hobbit eyes. Why are there even people in this Godzilla? Oh, right, to add human stakes (steaks?) to the story. This isn’t a Pokemon Smackdown after all.
Bryan Cranston lent some welcome personality at first, but after spouting off meta-jokes like, “That was NOT a Transformer…” (heh), the torch was inexplicably passed to the aforementioned cute young actor. Once the egg cracked, no one did anything you haven’t seen at the cineplex dozens of times over. For international world-spanning human tension you can slice your hands on, re-watch Arrival again. Then come back here to see really big bugs eat subway trains like churros. Make your own movie!
I’m sorry I’m not treating this review with more dignity. It really does have worthwhile bits in between shots of pesky humans staring like deer in the headlights (or running full tilt too late to make a difference).
The Monsters looked pretty good, though.
But the monsters were creatively designed, which are presumably the reason you bought your ticket. Like all good monster flicks — Jaws, Jurassic Park, Aliens et al. — the producers withhold the glamour shots until a good part of the film is underway. Part of the fun lies in imagining the huge beasties.
What’s nice here are the pay-offs, when they arrive. Godzilla and his nasty parasites are on full display. It’s not like in 1998, where blinding rain purposefully obscures 3 hours of film.
I liked the heroic Godzilla as a creature a whole lot, tubby profile and all. I feel like he had to be a rolly polly oil barrel to stoke that kind of fire. He also felt right with his triple spined back, beady (yet caring) little eyes, and a tail made for whipping. He seems almost intelligent.
And he looked great underwater. I loved the scenes where he swam between the two aircraft carriers. Humans and man-made radioactive lizard — working together on one goal. This Godzilla is a lover, not a fighter.
So, how to grade 2014s Godzilla?
Looking good isn’t a reason for a high grade, unless you’re watching Avatar. Non-stop action is just exhausting — and for today’s more discerning audiences, boring. Running and screaming as buses fly around & tension high-wires go down went the way of the dinosaur (ha, sorry) in the disaster-porn film era of the 70s.
This could have been a better film, and I’m sad we can’t find a proper starring vehicle for Godzilla yet. We have the tech now (even the esteemed Andy Serkis consulted with WETA on the motion-capture work). So we can make it look good. Why can’t we find the right director — and a proper cast ensemble — to make us CARE?
Movie Grade: C
Co-Creator of RunPee, Chief of Operations, Content Director, and Managing Editor. RunPee Jilly likes galaxy-spanning sci fi, superhero sagas, fantasy films, YA dystopians, action thrillers, chick flicks, and zany comedies, in that order…and possesses an inspiringly small bladder. In fact, that little bladder sparked the creation of RunPee. (Good thing she’s learned to hold it.)