Godzilla has stomped his way back into American cinema. The Japanese are angry that he’s fat, but the American’s are excited and hopeful. Mainly because we want to erase the memory of Roland Emerich’s 1998 Godzilla. This go around Gareth Edwards takes the director’s chair. Edwards will probably be best known for this film since he doesn’t have too many credits to his name. Now the question is, does Godzilla stand up to our hopes and dreams? To me, I have to say, no.
Godzilla tells the story of Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) a Lieutenant in the US Navy, who lost his parents when he was young. His mother to an unnatural force of nature, and his father (Bryan Cranston) to the search for what killed his wife. When his father is arrested in Japan for stumbling across the cover up of his wife’s death they are both thrust into world threatening disaster. Two monstrous creatures are awakened and begin to wreak havoc on the world. However by awaken these monsters, the earth’s natural force comes to light to be our savior. And that force is not just another monster, but a God, Godzilla.
The film itself is actually written and directed well. Should they have named this film something different, without the connection to an iconic on screen monster, I might have liked it more. However, there is really very little of screen time for title character. Godzilla has, at max, 30 minutes of on screen in the 2 hour film. You don’t get your first monster until half an hour in, and Godzilla doesn’t show up until hour in. Not to mention when he finally does, he is nothing but background sporadically for seconds at a time. When the action starts, the film cuts to a new scene, normally with Godzilla on a television screen.
This isn’t to say it’s a bad film. Sitting back and just watching it for what it is, it is not bad at all. The acting is spot on, and the direction isn’t bad. The films graphics are phenomenal, and Godzilla has never looked so incredible. The story itself is well written. You feel the gravity of the situation these characters are put in. Taylor-Johnson plays the soldier to a T. You feel his dilemmas, but see that he is going to do his job regardless of what happens around him. Elizabeth Olsen is such a good actress, and truly has a bright future. She plays Taylor-Johnson’s wife, and shows such strength in the film. She’s not the damsel in distress, or the eye candy like she easily could have been. And Cranston as well gives an amazing performance. I have not watched Breaking Bad so this was really my first introduction to him. Ken Watanabe is another shining star. But then again, he is a shining star in every film he appears in. He plays the scientist who has been studying the myth of Godzilla his whole life.
All in all, Godzilla, is not Pacific Rim. It’s not the mindless monster film we, or at least I, was hoping for. So if you are going to this film to see Godzilla, you are going to be disappointed like myself. But if you could look past that, go to see a character film, on what people would do if this disaster were happen, then you might enjoy it. I give Godzilla a Jeebus score of 3.5, Check out the Matinee!