Godzilla (2014)


Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) and his son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) discover a monumental secret in Japan – a monster that feeds on nuclear energy and is bent on reuniting with its mate to spawn more of its kind. As the creatures lay waste to civilization, Godzilla arises from the depths to restore order.

The Highs
The monsters look fantastic in Godzilla. The CGI is phenomenal and the animations are crisp and have a serious weight to them. Godzilla’s breath attack looks especially cool, his spines charging with crackling blue energy before the beam is released from his maw. The explosions and general destruction are also rendered incredibly, and really enhance the feeling of absolute chaos that Gareth Edwards was clearly aiming for.

I actually enjoyed the fact that Godzilla focused on the human aspect of the story. I know that a lot of viewers disliked this, and I can understand why. I think that this choice elevated the film above a simple destruction-fest, and allowed a more interesting story that the audience could become invested in.

Bryan Cranston’s performance is, as usual, amazing. I have loved him as an actor ever since his days in Malcolm in the Middle and, of course, Breaking Bad. This was my first time seeing him in a film setting, and he did not disappoint. I am always amazed by Cranston’s emotional range, and the scene in the bunker is a perfect example.

The sound design for the monsters is astounding. The soundtrack is great, and I really appreciated the use of Japanese music elements as an homage to Godzilla’s origins.

The Lows
While focusing on the human characters was a good idea, unfortunately those characters aren’t remotely interesting. Outside of Joe, who dies in the first half hour, each individual exists as a cardboard cutout. It certainly doesn’t help that our protagonist Ford is never developed beyond badass soldier, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s lifeless performance only exacerbates the issue. Elizabeth Olsen and Ken Watanabe are wasted in favor of a focus on bland, nameless military figures throughout.

There are a few scenes where a battle between Godzilla and the MUTOs is imminent, and the camera cuts away at the penultimate moment. This carries on until the last 20 minutes of the film. I understand wanting to focus on the human side of the story, but this almost felt like an intentional choice to frustrate the audience. Edwards could have easily focused on more of the actual fighting without taking away from his vision, but these specific scenes almost feel like a proverbial middle finger to Godzilla fans.

The cinematography, while capturing some nice shots, is overall bland.

Final Thoughts
Godzilla is exciting and action packed but, while it does feature some excellent monster violence, its focus on the human aspect of the story may cause some to be disappointed overall.

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