Is It Cool?: Excellence in Filmmaking
Tedious, uninspired, and emotionally detached, Godzilla makes for passable entertainment only for the most die-hard fans of large-scale disaster flicks. It’s a step up from its 1998 predecessor staring Matthew Broderick, but that bar was set so low that any director with five dollars and an iPhone could make a better film (admittedly that’s an untested hypothesis).
Two films that are much better than Godzilla are Cloverfield and the recent Pacific Rim. These two titles come to mind because they are both “disaster” films with massive “creatures”—the first being an example of an emotionally engaging story, and the second an example of pure VFX spectacle at it’s most visceral and impressive.
Here’s where one might expect a plot summary of Godzilla. Such a thing is unnecessary. Godzilla destroys stuff, and people freak out. That’s why people see these movies.
The performances from Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Elizabeth Olsen deserve a better film. They are all capable actors who give a second rate screenplay their best shot. Taylor-Johnson, however, doesn’t quite have the charisma to carry the film as expected of him.
The action doesn’t really become impressive until the final third (and neither do the special effects). Even then, director Gareth Edwards doesn’t so much dazzle as avoid any obvious mistakes given the expectations following an exorbitant budget. The creature design and rendering for Godzilla is good, but he’s rarely ever frightening.
The cinematography also had a consistently odd look. It was processed at a much lower contrast than one would expect from this genre and the overall gray dullness seemed like the exact wrong choice for terror and suspense.
What’s it Saying?: Message of the Movie
Nature cannot be contained or controlled. The serenity prayer popped into my mind at some point — either inspired by the theme of the film, or as a reminder to myself that I have no power over how sub-par this film is.
At least some of the characters exhibited heroism.
The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Morality in the Movie
As expected, there is a lot of violence. But there’s no gratuitous gore or anything to cause insomnia. The language was surprisingly clean. There is a passionate kiss between husband and wife that is interrupted — within a relationship that is portrayed as stable and wholesome.
Acceptable for teens.
That's Right. I Said It: Reviewer Comments
Some of the early CG shots look low-budget.
Ken Watanabe in this role seems like the butt of a joke I’m not in on.
I feel like all the most spectacular moments were shown in the trailer.
The scene on the rain bridge is pretty solid and seemingly inspired by the classic T-Rex scene from Jurassic Park.
Why is none of this scary?
Bryan Cranston should have had a bigger role.
The emotional hook of the story was very badly botched.
This movie has almost no sense of humor. Where’s a good Will Smith one-liner when you need one?