johnlink ranks GODZILLA (2014)

GODZILLA only has a limited time left in the theater. It seems like the kind of movie you need to see on the big screen. So, my wife and I ventured out to see it before it goes. I’d heard good things about this one, but went in guarded because the Hollywood GODZILLA was a terrible movie.

Godzilla_Fossil

I watched GODZILLA (2014), in theaters, on 6.24.14. It was my first viewing of the film.

Filmmakers looking to reinvent a franchise like GODZILLA have an uphill battle. There is a love for the big lizard and what he represents, even if the movies which make up his aura are not the greatest of films. The path to making a well liked remake is narrow. The CGI had better be good, the monster design had better be good, the story had better be good, and the characters had better be likable. The 1990s remake of GODZILLA failed on pretty much every one of those levels. But, and this is surprising, the 2014 remake succeeds on all of those levels.

This isn’t landmark movie making, but it is really solid blockbuster entertainment with a bit of genre-friendly thematic musing. The story we focus on has a father , Joe (Bryan Cranston) who suffered a great loss in a Japanese nuclear accident in the late 90s. Present day, and he can’t let it go. His son, a soldier who JUST got home, Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), is forced to return to Japan to bail him out. Of course, being a Godzilla movie, this is not about the family drama only. Monstrous things take place. In the background of this are some Navy guys (led by David Strathairn as an Admiral) and a couple od dedicated scientists (the always great Ken Wantanabe and his sidekick played by Sally Hawkins)

We then follow the trail of destruction from Japan to the US, focusing in on San Francisco by way of Hawaii and Nevada. While the big time destruction occurs, we are drawn into a drama as Ford is trying to get back to his wife Elle (Elizabeth Olsen). The movie counts on this drama working, it is really the most important human element, and it does. Elizabeth Olsen could sell emotion if she was playing a mummified body. She doesn’t need great dialogue. Aaron Taylor-Johnson may not be as great an actor, but the drive of his character serves the film well.

Being true science fiction, GODZILLA asks some big questions. There are certainly condemnations of nuclear proliferation and man’s willingness to use them. The monsters in this film literally feed of nuclear energy. They’d be happy living close to the Earth’s crust, but we are tempting them with our use. The film wonders about man’s ability to fight nature, positioning Godzilla, as a character, at times as a God or an act of nature. As a character, he is very interesting. His actions may be deemed good by some or bad by others, but Godzilla does not care. He kills humans like they were ants, even as they launch bullets and weapons upon him. His quest is bigger and more direct, even if the script is a little too forward and quick to understand this. Ken Wantanabe has the most poster-ready line when he says “The arrogance of men is thinking nature is in their control and not the other way around.” This is a little overwritten, as it pretty much states the film’s theme upfront. But, then, we are not at a movie about a gigantic dinosaur because we are looking for subtly.

As entertainment, the movie plays very well. The human stuff works, and the fights are absolutely top notch. These pages are littered with complaints about movies asking us to care what one CGI monster or robot or demon does to some other CGI monster or robot or demon. But GODZILLA manages to surprise with its ingenuity and character while simultaneously convincing us that this is happening in the same world as everything else. The last battle is certainly the best action sequence on film since the AVENGERS defended New York, and it is probably a top ten action sequence in the last decade.

All of this amounts to a film which tries to be a little smarter than it is, but a movie which is at least as entertaining as it wants to be. If the goal was to revitalize the Godzilla franchise, this is an enormous success. It’s an easy movie to revisit and enjoy.

SCORES

FILM: 6; MOVIE: 9; ACTING: 6; WRITING: 6; BONUS: 2

This is a film which gets two separate bonus points for sort of the same thing. One point goes for the monster creation itself. The stuff we see in this movie is really incredible. The second bonus point is for the CGI which brings that character design to life because, well, the stuff we SEE in this movie is really incredible.

6+9+6+6+2=29

FINAL SCORE: 7.25 out of 10

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~ by johnlink00 on June 25, 2014.

2 Responses to “johnlink ranks GODZILLA (2014)”

  1. Good review John. It was all about the build-up with this here Godzilla, and that really worked for me. However, it didn’t work for others and I can totally understand why. Some people just need more action is all.

    • Yeah. I can understand that. I would rather have a movie with a few
      really quality scenes and less generic actiony bits. But I don’t begrudge someone who feels differently.

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