Review: Godzilla (2014)

There is no audience to Godzilla, only survivors — provided, of course, you’re able to stay awake through what’s my favorite to be the most boring summer blockbuster of the year. Yep, the film featuring everyone’s other favorite giant green rage monster is a test of endurance to see if you can handle the frustratingly long tease before we get to Godzilla doing what he does best — kicking monster tail.

Warner Bros. Pictures Godzilla travels by the bridge in "Godzilla."
Warner Bros. Pictures
Godzilla travels by the bridge in “Godzilla.”

I wasn’t a huge fan of Pacific Rim, but that film delivered exactly what it promised — skyscraper sized monsters fighting giant robots.

Godzilla’s filmmakers are under the mistaken Michael Bay-like impression that audiences paying to see a movie entitled Godzilla would be content with a movie focused on generic, underdeveloped humans.

Kimberley French/Warner Bros. Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Ford.
Kimberley French/Warner Bros.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Ford.

Following a tragedy that cost him his family and career, Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) is obsessed with learning what really triggered a cataclysmic accident that devastated a city in its wake. Brody’s son, Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Kick-Ass 2) has moved on from the incident and returns from a tour of duty to enjoy some much needed time with his wife, Elle (Elizabeth Olsen, Liberal Arts) and son, Sam (Carson Bolde). But before Ford gets settled in, Joe needs his help so it’s off to Japan to bail out dad, which ultimately brings Ford into contact with creatures he only dreamed about.

In a nice montage that pays homage to the 1954 original, Director Gareth Edwards shows that Godzilla and a few other random monsters are created as a result of nuclear weapon radiation, which leaves them feening for another sweet, sweet nuclear hit.

Warner Bros. Pictures Elizabeth Olsen as Elle Brody.
Warner Bros. Pictures
Elizabeth Olsen as Elle Brody.

Ken Watanabe (Inception) and Sally Hawkins play researchers who believe Godzilla can help prevent nuclear fallout, but like the rest of the cast, there’s not a big incentive to care about them despite screenwriter Max Borenstein devoting the majority of the film on the humans. And the whole monster film from the helpless human perspective was already done in far more riveting fashion with the exhilarating Cloverfield.

You’ve already seen the film’s signature scene featuring the HALO skydivers streaming their red flares as they descend into a bombed out monster royal rumble war zone. While the rest of the film left me frustrated and bored, this sequence is nothing short of spectacular. It’s the one scene that truly takes your breath away and I doubt you’ll see a better scene than this all year.

Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

Once Edwards finally gets to the monster smackdown, the film snaps to life with some inspired battles and an admittedly fun payoff. The CGI work on Godzilla and company is technically very proficient, but like Pacific Rim the fight scenes are often set in darkened, rainy backdrops and the monsters are lost in a sea of grey. I wonder if the character designers thought making Godzilla a color besides Background Building Color No. 43 would be straining the limits of credibility?

Godzilla was a colossal disappointment for me. This should destroy the box office and make enough money that hopefully a sequel will focus more attention on the title character or some far more interesting humans.

Rating: 4 out of 10

 

 

 

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