Sunday, June 1, 2014

Godzilla - Movie Review

Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elisabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Sally Hawkins, Juliette Binoche, David Straithairn, Richard T. Jones and Victor Rasuk.
Directed by Gareth Edwards.


Tone is an important element in a movie that introduces fantastical elements. This film wisely eschews the campy dumb fun the 1998 movie tried to have and plays it straight and serious. I liked that, and if anything it would have helped this movie to have a moment or two of levity.

Normally I wouldn't mind that it takes a while for Godzilla to show up. It gives us a chance to get to know the human characters and raise the stakes when people start dying and cities start getting destroyed. Unfortunately I didn't care about most of the characters.

The marketing campaign makes it look like Bryan Cranston is going to be one of the central characters, so I don't think I'm giving away too much by saying the movies should have focussed more on him and less on his soldier son played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Anna Karenina, Kick-Ass).  Johnson's a blank slate, and it just felt like another big-budget action movie putting Generic Young Guy as the hero. Was Taylor Kitsch too busy?

I know. You don't go to a Godzilla movie for good acting. But you do hope it'll be there.

You also go to a Godzilla movie for thrilling visuals, and on that front, the movie delivers. I felt that little-kid surge of excitement when halfway through the movie, we see that first sign of a giant monster on the loose. ("Mayhem's about to start!")  Godzilla isn't in the movie as much as you'd think, but I liked his design, I liked the effects, I just liked the character. If a sequel is greenlit, I'll be excited for him to return, even if (or especially if) a whole different cast is assembled to watch stuff get smashed.

Don't get me wrong. All of these actors have been excellent in something else, but Watanabe spends the whole movie slack-jawed, Straithairn carries the air of authority while the script makes him a woefully inept leader, and Olsen is there to be the wife that Taylor-Johnson calls from time to time.

It's much better than the 1998 film. The ride of the second half is quite fun.

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