Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Review - Godzilla (2014)

Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston and Elizabeth Olsen.
Directed by Gareth Edwards.
Run-time: 2hrs 3mins

I was a bit skeptical about a Godzilla remake (and yes I did like the Matthew Broderick version growing up) but after watching Monsters a few weeks back, I thought director Gareth Edwards might be right guy for this job, seeing how had tackled his movie 'Monsters' with such lovely buildup. I'm happy to report that Gareth's style rubbed off on Godzilla and it turned out to be a pretty decent effort from him.

The Good?

The cinematography is breathtaking. Grade A visuals and I loved the design of this Godzilla and its roar (if only the movie had actual 3D effects in it). Bryan Cranston gives us an impressive performance in his limited screentime. He gets the ball rolling and is attributed to the lovely first half buildup of this film with his nervy, emotional and determined performance to find out the truth.

I respect Gareth Edwards vision of this remake; We are accustomed to seeing Godzilla as a sort of antagonist in the previous versions but in this movie, he is portrayed more highly as a hero and a protector - which I thought was pretty cool and different. What is commendable is the buildup of the film leading to the first reveal of our iconic monster.  The director sets the pieces just right, gives us ample character time while also teasing the likes of Godzilla as we wait for shit to pop off. When shit finally popped off, it was a glorious sight for most parts. There were a few really amazing moments of action that made me go "Holy Crap". The backstory of Godzilla and the tie-ins with the MUTOs worked really well. While the original Godzilla worked as a metaphor for nuclear war, Gareth Edwards version established its own identity as it tackles the theme of heroism. Despite that there were a few references to the original film in regards to the whole nuclear war aspect - which was commendable.

The Bad?

I think Godzilla biggest weakness lies in its characters. As I stated, Bryan Cranston is presented with limited role so the movie is then handed over to his son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) -- who gives us one of the most boring and uninspiring leading performances of 2014. He didn't seem to be all that interested in the role, especially coming from a quite emotional Bryan Cranston start. His wife played by Elizabeth Olsen is very underused and is pretty much just downsized to just a concerned wife for much of the film.

I notice that a lot of the negative criticisms of Godzilla also lies in the amount of screentime the monster is given. While it doesn't matter to me whether Godzilla appears for only 10, 15 or 20 minutes, I just wanted to see him appear in all his glory and scale and fuck shit up. However when Godzilla finally does appear and we get a full on view, they kept cutting the damn scenes, especially as you realize that shit was just about to go down. I noticed they did this for a few other monster fight sequences and quite frankly it got a bit annoying. As a result of this constant cutting of the scenes, I couldn't help but feel as if Godzilla was just merely making a cameo in his own movie -- the MUTOs got a little more attention than him. There's nothing wrong with teasing the monster at the beginning but it should have not continued into the climatic scenes as well.

All in all, I liked this movie but I didn't love it. Some really cool moments in action and I'm already looking forward to the sequel.

Grade: B 

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