Posted by: ckckred | May 19, 2014

Godzilla

godzilla-attacks-golden-gate

The original Godzilla, made in 1954, isn’t as much a monster movie as an ominous call to Hiroshima and the H-bomb. The beast, an enormous, radiation powered dinosaur hybrid, was a living representation of nuclear warfare come to wreak havoc on human society. Godzilla’s destruction of Tokyo was a way for Japan to convey their unease with such hazardous weaponry as the only country actually attacked by an atomic bomb.

As years passed by, Godzilla became more or less a blistering anti-hero. He would still tear through Japan now and then but would also protect the nation and the world from other creatures with worse intents. The schlockiness of these movies appealed to me at an early age, back when seeing two giant monsters duking it out was enough for me to get excited about. Even now when I look back at the old Godzilla movies I find them hard to criticize because the camp factor of the films make them so enjoyable.

The main reason why Roland Emmerich’s 1998 version was such a colossal failure was because it had no connection with the Japanese Godzilla, not just because the Americanized mutated iguana in no way resembled the bipedal dinosaur but the monster had no personality or spirit. The previous Godzilla movies may not be very credible pieces of cinema but they gave the eponymous beast a character. We recognize Godzilla not as a man in a bad rubber suit but a creature hell-bent on destruction. Emmerich’s Godzilla, though, was soulless; feeling more like millions of 1s and 0s on the screen instead of rampaging and confused beast.

Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla wipes away the grime Emmerich put upon the Japanese icon and returns the monster back to his roots. For the first time in sixty years since the original, Godzilla has become a symbol for radioactive destruction. Yet this Godzilla is marveled for a post-9/11 age. Through Edwards’ bleak imagery, Hiroshima and Nagasaki aren’t just evoked but the nuclear crisis at Fukushima only a few years ago as well as the collapse of the World Trade Center. This is the Godzilla movie that fans have been waiting for, the one that the radioactive breathing monster has deserved for a long time.

Without giving away much, Godzilla’s arrival is similar to that in his 1954 origin. An ancient beast that feeds on nuclear energy, Godzilla is awakened in the atomic age, along with other monsters whose presence proves to be a threat to humanity’s existence. Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) has suspected that the world’s been hiding this secret for years after his wife (Juliette Binoche) is killed in the meltdown of a Japanese nuclear disaster in 1999. Cut to fifteen years later and Joe is still obsessed with what the Japanese government is covering up. His son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), who has just returned from a tenure working on the bomb squad in the US army, comes to bail his father out of jail after he enter prohibited radioactive areas. But soon Ford finds himself entrapped in the rise of these creatures.

Edwards, whose previous film Monsters was built on a miniscule $500,000 budget, proves a different visual flare than most directors. Godzilla feels darker and grittier than any other blockbuster in years, being grave and serious without the smirk and pretension of the 1998 version. Edwards pays tribute not only to the Godzilla movies to the past but many other notable pictures, most notably the blockbusters of Steven Spielberg (like Jaws, Godzilla isn’t fully seen until a good portion of the picture and like Close Encounters, there’s a childlike wonder of the spectacle the characters are witnessing). In a world dominated by the Marvel movies, most of which are just the same picture over and over, Godzilla is a refreshing breath of air.

Still, Godzilla has its share of faults, particularly with its human characters. While Cranston and Binoche deliver strong performances worthy of their reputations (Cranston in particular evokes the despair and anger of his antihero Walter White in Breaking Bad), Aaron Taylor-Johnson feels like the weak-link in the picture, though that’s mostly because his character is pretty much the stock army hero audiences have become all too familiar with. Not to mention the introduction of the monsters felt a bit too rapidly accepted and some extra time showing the shock of the radioactive beasts would have helped the movie plot-wise. However, Godzilla succeeds in its goal of a modern monster movie, being both entertaining and horrifying.

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Responses

  1. will have to go and see it, think that all reviews has poor Aaron Taylor-Johnson as a weak link but all claims the same that it’s not his fault but the script… but anyhoo, so long as this movie improves from Emmerichs version I’m going to be a happy camper.

    • I think Johnson suffers from the material more than his performance (he’s given pretty little to do), but the movie’s very good overall. It’s far better than Emmerich’s version.

  2. Nice review and glad you enjoyed it. I’m pretty much in agreement, it felt like a welcome return to what blockbusters were like until very recently.

    • Thanks! It did feel more substantial than many blockbusters I’ve seen in recent years, despite some notable flaws.

  3. Nice review mate! Hopefully checking this out this week and I’m looking forward to it. Not expecting a massive amount so hopefully I’ll enjoy it.

    • Thanks! Hope you like it.

  4. Good review. It’s all about the build-up to this here Godzilla and it really works. Even if the characters aren’t all that interesting to begin with.

    • Thanks! The build-up to Godzilla is very well-done that the poor characterization doesn’t hurt the movie too much.

  5. Great insight, regarding the 1954 version. I’m glad this remake is better than 1998. Ugh.

    • The 1998 version was truly terrible. This is better in every way imaginable.

  6. Nice review, glad you liked this one as well! I thought this movie was simply amazing. 🙂

    • Thanks! This was the Godzilla movie fans were waiting for a long time.

  7. Great read. Been looking forward to this so much!

    • Thanks! Hope you enjoyed it.

  8. Godzilla was a blockbuster in the slow-build tradition of classic Spielberg fare like Jaws and Jurassic Park. I loved it.

    • It did have a very Spielbergian feel to it. This was a lot of fun to watch for sure.

  9. Great review. I liked the film and thought the majority of the film was good, which is a nice change from the 98 version which was mostly bad.

    The visuals and tone worked really well but the characters where lifeless, except Cranston.

    Still bring on MechaGodzilla! 😀

    • Thanks! The human characters were the movie’s weak spot, but ultimately the visuals and stunning fights help carry on the movie. I’m looking forward to the sequel if there is one.

      • Oh with the money it is making I am sure we’ll get one. Might not be for a few years but still 😀

  10. […]  I also very much enjoyed the documentary Tim’s Vermeer as well as the monster-romp Godzilla, whose characters never really come alive on screen but has some exciting action to make up for its […]

  11. Great read. Also graet to know you found some fun with it. I definitely did and was also not too bothered by the stock characters. Edwards had to make sure that the humans were dramatic enough, but not to the point that they’d actually distract from the main event, which was obviously the size of these beasts. The CGI in this movie was just top-notch, besides

    • Thanks! It’s a bit generic, but it’s really what a Godzilla film should be like. I had a lot of fun and it was far better than the 1998 remake.


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