I freaking love Kaiju (Japanese Giant Monster) movies, and by proxy, I love Godzilla. There is something cathartic, awesome, and nostalgic about watching Godzilla tear up Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, etc., while at the same time beating the snot out of a bunch of badass monsters either by himself or with a few friends. If I had to pick favorites, personally I’d choose the original 1954 Gojira (and to a lesser extent the 1956 American re-cut), 1962’s King Kong vs Godzilla, and 2004’s Godzilla: Final Wars. As for worst? 1971’s Godzilla vs. Hedorah, 1973’s Godzilla vs. Megalon, and by far the worst of them all and a possible contender for worst Kaiju movie of all time, 1969’s All Monsters Attack, A.K.A Godzilla’s Revenge. I don’t count Tri-Star’s 1998 Zilla because it is a Godzilla movie in name only. But yeah, being the big fan of the King of the Monsters I am, I was actually pretty hyped when I saw the trailers to the 2014 American reboot Godzilla. And after watching it, I can safely say that if this is the beginning of a new series (and reports are saying sequels are on the way), then this is a series I can get behind because I came out of Godzilla 2014 one happy camper.
Giving a plot synopsis is a little useless because if you have seen any Kaiju movie, honestly, you have a pretty good idea how the movie goes; establishing human characters, disturbances, guy finds the answer, is too late or no one believes him, enemy monster awakens, stuff is destroyed, Godzilla appears, kills it, goes back into the water, roll credits. Despite simplicity and predictability, this formula has been done well many times in the past, and really, any simplistic and predictable story can still make for a tense and epic story. Such is the case here. While parts drag at times and you do spend more time with the human characters, you really don’t notice while watching nor care because the writing is good enough to make you see past those shortcomings.
Easily the strength of the movie is it’s casting, with a fantastic and tragic performances by Bryan Cranston and Ken Watanabe and surprisingly good performances like Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen. This cast and direction really breath life and emotion into characters that, in lesser hands, would be cliched at best or insulting at the worst. Props to director Gareth Edwards that. However, it should be stated that all of the child actors in this movie are terrible, even by child actors standards. Either they are too wooden or too boring, but their scenes don’t last too long, so it’s not that worth griping about.
And, of course, it wouldn’t be an awesome Kaiju movie without Kaiju action, and I’ll say that I was satisfied by the action scenes. The cinematography was great in following the action, no shaky cam, and gave us a good idea of scale. The fights themselves were awesome and made me return to that little kid inside all of us where we just gleefully squeal as Godzilla goes mano-y-mano (or in this movie mano-y-manos) with a crazy creature. I’m not ashamed to say that I yelled “YEAH!” when Godzilla used his trademark blue radiation fire.
Is Godzilla perfect? No. While I thought the movie was paced well, for some, it may drag on and feel like a chore to get through to see the monsters. There is also a few fake-out scenes, that to me were hilarious, to others where really annoying and was nothing more than cop-outs. Also, this is not a movie where science is the most accurate. It may just be nit-picking, but when the MUTO (the monster whom Godzilla faces) is flying through San Francisco, how is it that the building’s windows do not shatter under the gust? Or is that just me?
I enjoyed Godzilla, plain and simple, and give it 3 and a half stars out of 4 possible stars. It’s great action with great pacing with great characters with a GREAT monster battle. I would readily recommend it to any monster movie fan, or anyone who loves “popcorn” movies. Don’t be put off by the fact that Godzilla looks like he put on the Madea fat suit, because when he steps onto the screen and roars his trademark roar, all you will care about will be how bad his opponent is screwed.