People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different. In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing lead us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all. Read on!
I’m a little split going into this. I love Godzilla and I think the trailers and marketing in general have sold me on a respectable, if not amazing take on the franchise. On the other hand director Gareth Edwards made Monsters, the emo-monster flick that featured almost no monsters, just hand holding and a sadness.
I really hate saying this, as I wanted nothing more than to leave Godzilla bubbling with kid-like excitement, but, alas Godzilla just didn’t do it for me. Gareth Edwards has made a very conflicted, very derivative monster movie. One part 50s Toho monster-flick, and one part 90s-Jurassic Park rip-off, Godzilla is a mish-mash of a few too many things, and that isn’t even it’s biggest misstep. I would spend a line or two here talking about plot and characters, but it doesn’t really matter, neither of them are remotely consequential, instead Edwards uses a slew of talking archetypes (the soldier, the scientist, the nervous wife, the crazy guy, etc.) to explain and prompt the advancement of the plot. No one says or does anything in this movie that doesn’t directly advance the plot forward. And though a lot of people might call this pragmatic, I call it bad writing across the board. I expect in an action movie that one character will be the voice box, the Ian Malcolms, the characters who address the themes and issues that need to be addressed, but Godzilla has only these characters. Conversations in the film break down to bare bone exposition of what Godzilla is doing, where he is, how the country is reacting. We barely even know how these characters react to the events, they just plod along, ensuring that the movie is aimed like a unexploded nuclear warhead at the and only reason to see this film: Godzilla. If Gareth Edwards gets one thing right, and he does (just one), it’s Godzilla. Big, bad, a hulking beast with no motivation except to remain at the top of the evolutionary pile, this is the Godzilla we’ve come to know and love. Edwards spends an immense amount of time alluding to what Godzilla is going to be (a shoulder blade here, a lot of stomping feet there) so that when he finally reveals this enormous dinosaur lizard in all its glory, it is fantastic. A breath-taking moment that will scrub the final lingering memories of Roland Emmerich’s lizard beast from the collective brain-pan. And he doesn’t stop there. The final battle across the skyline of San Francisco, is classic Toho Godzilla writ-modern and it is spectacular. This is man-in-suit made beautiful and the much anticipated moment of Godzilla turning on the old atomic breath is everything you want it to be. If only Godzilla was on screen for an hour and a half and Edwards didn’t feel the need to populate the other remaining moments with a bunch of cardboard characters I could fully endorse this flick. Instead, this is a step in the right direction for this historic franchise. It’s just a very, very small step.
Regardless of my not-glowing review, you should go and see this film, you’ll probably like it.