Let me preface my saying I am not too familiar with the original Godzilla series of films. I have seen clips here and there. The first thing I think of regarding Godzilla is the hilariously, awful dubbing within the movies. However, I will agree with most that the 1998 Godzilla film is one to forget or to watch for a good laugh. After 98’s failure, it was a risky move to attempt bringing Godzilla to life again—and successfully. I had high hopes and was not disappointed in the least. The CGI was incredible, and Godzilla looks amazing! The Kaiju Era is back and with a vengeance.
I had such high expectations for Godzilla, especially with a less than exciting summer film calendar. There were a lot of solid reasons to doubt Godzilla would be good. Gareth Edwards has very few credits as a director and no history with a big budget studio movie. Also, the last Godzilla attempt was a disaster yet came from a highly capable director (sorry to mention it again). It can also be a hindrance to have such high expectations and build for a movie.
On the other hand, the marketing proved so strong and successful that one could only HOPE that the movie was going to be worth it!
The promotional posters for Godzilla were plentiful, beautiful, and perfect. Each poster captured the importance of Godzilla and its history while bringing glimpses of what to expect this time around. What made me the most confident for Godzilla was the appearance of Godzilla within the trailers; by revealing the monster—and more than a split second—showed the film was proud of how Godzilla looked, acted, and was portrayed on camera. The pros and cons were tightly matched going into this film, but, thankfully, Godzilla overcame the worries to be awesome.
The movie is almost two films in one. The first hour is an emotional family’s journey; the second hour is an epic Godzilla/military/monster war. I was actually surprised at how serious and heartfelt the beginning part was. I was touched and surprised by characters’ actions and deaths, without spoilers. I feel the setup for Godzilla and the two MUTOs (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) were well explained and fit perfectly/reasonably within curnt history. Godzilla is the ultimate protector of the world and balancer of nature. There is a powerful quote by scientist Ichiro Serizawa that sums up Godzilla and even reflects on today’s society: “The arrogance of men is thinking nature is in their control and not the other way around.” As in previous films, this story and Godzilla are commentary for war and nuclear weapons. The film even incorporates nuclear elements within the story, which takes place mostly in Japan, Hawaii, and San Francisco.
The acting in the movie is okay with the highlight being the great Bryan Cranston. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is solid as an action male lead but could have done more; I have more faith in his upcoming performance as Quicksilver in The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Elizabeth Olsen is barely in the movie compared to billing. However, the chemistry between Olsen and Taylor-Johnson is established and believable so I am confident in their turn as brother-sister team, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. Ken Wantanabe plays a scientist in a role that could be seen as racist or homage to the original series. By having a Japanese actor, it makes it twice as exciting and gratifying to hear Godzilla’s first name spoke in the quick, original accent. Unfortunately, there are quite a few actors greatly underused: Sally Hawkins, Juliette Binoche, and David Strathairn. But this movie isn’t really about the acting is it?
The CGI is quite spectacular and sells this Godzilla story. Godzilla looks prehistoric, weathered, and massive. When the daikaiju is revealed and I heard Godzilla roar, I got chills. It reminded me of that moment when you see and hear the T-Rex for the first time in Jurassic Park. The film also includes two other monsters or a male and female MUTO. The creatures are gigantic and pretty original designs. They look scary enough to prove to be a match for Godzilla but flawed enough for Godzilla not humans to take them down. There is an unexpected moment when Godzilla breathes fire, which looks amazing and genius. Godzilla is a gigantic yet sympathetic monster; Godzilla is both a hero and villain. The final battle between Godzilla and the MUTOs is a masterpiece of effects and entertainment. Some have complained of the little amount of screen time Godzilla has, but I thought there was just enough Godzilla. There were more of the alien-insect like MUTOs shown. However, the story revolves around the fact that Godzilla is the secret predator of the world; it would defeat the purpose if Godzilla was just walking around, roaming the Earth. Also, by having little glimpses and less outright coverage, Godzilla and his stunning appearance become more impactful.
Overall, I was a mix of emotions—all positive—after the movie. I was relieved, excited, and blown away by the effects. The positives far outweigh any negatives. The CGI and cinematography are the standouts of this film; it looks beautiful and completely captures the emotional essence within the movie. I was slightly disappointed there was no post credits scene; especially, when I read some Asian countries has an end credits scene that teased Mothra. Due to trade marking, Godzilla was the only kaiju Legendary Pictures secured for this installment. The rumor is some Asian markets saw Mothra commanding an army of MUTOs; Mothra then flies up and generates a hurricane. With success, a sequel is inevitable, and Mothra is probably Godzilla’s most famous and favorite foe. It would have been cool to see this scene, though. It will probably pop up online soon too. I recommend Godzilla for old and new fans alike in what is likely to be a dry, uneventful summer.
By Kasey Michael--a lover of all things entertainment. Born and bred in North Carolina, she has a degree in Film Studies and can usually be found in front of a screen.