Godzilla had a rocky outing in 1998 with the Matthew Broderick starring film, so Hollywood decided to try its hand with the infamous movie monster again with a more true to origin take on the fabled beast. The result is Godzilla 2014, which opened May 16th to record breaking ticket sales. Unlike the 1998 version, this take on Godzilla tried to remain true to the classic Japanese films that made him so popular in the first place, but that may have been its undoing. While Godzilla features some radical cinematography, and too few and far between badass monster battles, its weak plot and terrible characters derail the narrative from being captivating. In fact, one could argue that the original Godzilla in dubbed form offers more story and heart than the technological advanced and english speaking Godzilla 2014.
The film’s premise is simple and murky at the same time. Bryan Cranston stars as Joe Brody, who is an American scientist working in Japan at a nuclear reactor. One day he senses that something isn’t right about the plant, and urges his fellow workers to shut it down to avoid any sort of fallout. He claims that the disturbance has nothing to do with an earthquake, but no one will listen to him. Things quickly go south, and Joe loses his wife in the accident. The story then moves 15 years into the future and zeroes in on Joe’s son Ford Brody, who is returning home from a tour with the Army. Soon after he gets back he finds out that he must bail his dad out of a Japanese prison for snooping around the nuclear reactor that he used to work at.
To make a long story short Ford goes to bail out his dad and they soon find out what caused the earthquake and electrical spikes 15 years prior. The government and the Monarch Corporation have been secretly incubating a massive cocoon like pod, which is beginning to emulate the disaster from many years past. Before the team can kill it the monster hatches into a massive flying menace that can shoot EMP blasts from its arm claw, and then all hell breaks loose. Joe Brody’s theories have been confirmed, but they’re too late. The MUTO (name for the flying monster) is out in the wild and needs more radiation to eat, yes this thing eats nukes people, and it looks as ridiculous as it sounds.
It’s later revealed that another MUTO has escaped from Nevada, and that Godzilla has surfaced in a response to these monsters hatching. Dr. Ishiro Serizawa, who is played by Ken Watanabe, theorizes that Godzilla has returned to bring balance to nature because humans have mucked things up. He proposes that Godzilla will save the day, but no one listens to him, so a trap is set in place to kill all three monsters. A few awesome monster battles ensue, and then the credits roll.
This is Godzilla 2014, and the synopsis above is why it’s not a great movie. The plot is paper thin and completely forgettable, making every character in it secondary to the monsters, which would have been fine if the film only focused on the hulking beasts tearing up the world’s cities. Rather than doing that Godzilla 2014 zeroes in on the human characters, which wouldn’t have been so bad if they offered up a reason to care about them. The only great and emotional character gets ripped from the film too early on leaving a weak cast to fill the void, and they just flat out dropped the ball. That’s not to say the likes of Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, and Elizabeth Olsen are acting hacks, but the script delivered to them is completely devoid of dialogue and human-centric scenes worth experiencing. Not once did I ever care about the human factor in Godzilla, so a large part of the film is complete throw away, because the titular character and the two MUTOs don’t nearly get the amount of screen time and focus that they should have.
Godzilla is without a doubt the star of this movie, but for some odd reason he’s hardly in it until the final act, and by that time you’ll more than likely be looking at your watch to figure out when this mess of a monster movie will end. Although, when he does get his turn in the spotlight it’s hard not to appreciate what the VFX team accomplished with his design and movements, because the fabled movie monster looks better than ever. His battles with the two MUTOs are easily the highlights of Godzilla, and if the movie only focused on its true star, his origins, motivations, and his battle prowess, then this reboot would’ve been fantastic.
This go around with Godzilla will surely polarize theater goers, because it does have its moments, but overall it’s just a poorly scripted movie with too many plot holes to look past. The human factor is entirely forgettable and ridiculous at times, and for some odd reason Godzilla really doesn’t make a solid long lasting appearance until the last act of the film. The rest of the narrative is bogged down by forgettable scenes and feigned emotions, with almost no focus on why these monsters exist in the first place. The final battle between Godzilla and the MUTOs is the only highlight, but by the time you get to that part you’ll probably already be bored to death, so the intensity of the battle may still fall short for you. Don’t let the opening weekend ticket sales fool you, Godzilla 2014 is most definitely not worth the price of admission. Save the King of Monsters’ latest silver screen outing for a rainy day rental.
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Review Statement: The author of this review paid for a ticket to the 3D version of this film for review purposes.