Movie Review - Godzilla (2014)
Aaron Taylor Johnson is the luckiest son of a bitch ever.
No, it’s not because he gets to make out with one of the Olsen brood (honestly, she’s rather meh, both in appearance and in the film).
It’s because after everything his character goes through: being in an overturning vehicle while handcuffed to a rail within said vehicle, falling off a rather high-up bridge (granted, it’s into water, but still), being blown back by the shockwave of a fairly massive explosion and lastly passing out in front of a nuclear bomb with only 5 minutes on the timer…only to be rescued at the last minute and safely escape the blast…and the only injury he sustains is a goddamn limp?
Motherfucker needs to play the lottery…like, now. I have two theories. Either A) he’s been genetically infused with cockroach DNA, as he’s clearly damn near impossible to kill or B) unseen on screen, he’s carrying the ultimate rabbit’s foot…probably from the Easter Bunny himself for the sheer amount of luck he has in the picture.
But he’s not why you’re reading this review…or at least, he’d better not be! No, this movie is called “Godzilla”, not “Ford Brody – Unkillable Dude”…so…how’s the big G lookin’ these days?
Pretty damn good. Could use some feet though. I’ll get to that in a bit.
You probably want me to talk about the plot…which, I mean, seriously, this is a Godzilla film, and you want plot? Sigh. Okay…you’re in luck, the film has one and it’s serviceable. A pattern of earthquakes starts in the Philippines in the late 90’s and then moves toward Japan, in particular a nuclear power plant in Japan. Well, a Dr. Serizawa (nice nod guys!) finds the standard cave of slime and eggs…one dormant, the other has hatched…you know the sort I’m talking about, the “I’ve seen this movie before and it never ends well for those that step inside here and just start poking around”. So, the shadowy, secretive, but ultimately powerless company that Serizawa works for, Monarch, snags the dormant egg. Sadly, the focus of this section of the story is all family based…with Bryan Cranston’s character running the aforementioned Japanese nuclear power plant when the…ahem…”earthquake” causes a containment breach that ultimately claims the life of his wife (and Aaron Taylor Johnson’s mom). Cranston goes a bit crazy-go-nuts trying to find out what happened while Johnson’s all “leave it in the past”. Blah, blah, family drama, blah. You’re not here for that crap. You’re here for the kaiju fight. You’re here for shit getting tore up and cities getting demolished. Don’t worry, you came to the right place…but the plot has to be anchored in something real…and this is what we get. As I said, it’s serviceable…which is a far cry from the ‘98 attempt as its plot only really served to annoy you. The movie itself is set up for a “slow burn” and the family drama, while nothing spectacular or moving or what-have-you, it keeps your interest and invested as we slowly make our way from the realistic to the “holy fucking shit, it’s giant monsters!”
Let’s get to it then. Here we’ve got not one, but two MUTOs…they said what that stands for in the film, and sure I could look it up on the internet, but the hell with it, they’re kaiju (but apparently since Pacific Rim, can they be called that anymore?). One is land based, the other takes to the skies…so for the sake of clarity in this review, we’ll call the land one MUTO and the air one Rodan 2.0. Both MUTO and Rodan 2.0 get their own moments to shine singularly…Rodan 2.0 in Hawaii, MUTO in Vegas…before the big finale in San Francisco…where the big G takes ‘em both on. The way the kaiju are handled here is great…and yes, the story is crafted in such a way that even though he causes HUGE swaths of destruction, you’re pulling for Godzilla. I mean as in “my entire damn theatre cheered during the fight” pulling for Godzilla. Especially when the atomic breath happened. Yes, there’s atomic breath…and it is awesome. Speaking of awesome, yes, the effects are just as fantastic as last year’s Pacific Rim…as one would expect for modern-day summer blockbusters. Also, yes, I’d highly recommend the 3D experience on this one. Honestly, I’d love to give more detail, but one, I don’t want to get too spoiler-y and two, this is a truly visual feast…it’s not going to do anything any justice at all if I sit here and try and type things out. Just go see it.
There are some nits to pick, though…but nothing that should keep you from seeing this…nothing that ruins the movie. I’ve already talked about the invincibility of the main human character. The other nit I had was the military’s reaction. Opening fire with assault rifles? Are you kidding me? Sure, I’m not military…never have been…but look, if you’re sending me and my unit of guys out there with the prospect of even just ONE giant monster/dinosaur/whatever, I want heavy caliber guns, rocket launchers/bazookas, grenade launchers…you know, heavy fucking ordinance…or me and my men aren’t going anywhere. And, if somehow I am out there with just a pea-shooter and I see Rodan 2.0, MUTO or the Big G? Fuck it…I’m shouldering that pea-shooter and hiding! I’m NOT going to shoot at it…because all I’m doing at that point is calling attention to myself: “Hey, kaiju, you look a little peckish…how’s about some nice human munchies?” If this happened once, I’d be okay with it. I mean, hell, panic makes you do stupid stuff. But this happens EVERY TIME someone in camouflage even glimpses something huge. Maybe it’s a military intelligence thing. Then there’s the final plan with the nuclear bomb…and the minute it’s brought up, you KNOW it’s going to go bad, and you know EXACTLY how it’s going to go bad. That level of predictability was disappointing. My last nit goes to the Big G himself. And don’t get me wrong, they got the design about 90% right…but that last 10 percent? Oy. Godzilla is both a land and sea creature…he needs actual FEET. Not tree stumps. Feet. Sure, you don’t see them much, but the one or two times you do…ugh…it’s not good. Guys, for the sequel, kinda touch that up a bit, eh? If anything, it’ll make the toys look better!
While the new Godzilla doesn’t have the thoughtful allegory that the very original had back in 1954, well, I’m not sure it’d be successful if it did. Instead, this is a popcorn movie that keeps you glued and will make you cheer by the end. If you’re itching for monsters, destruction, slime and so forth…you’ve come to the right place. The king is back. LET’S GET READY TO CRUMBLE!