2014 has been a pretty big year for films so far. We got The Amazing Spider Man 2 and Captain America, which were both pretty great films in their own right. Nontheless, Godzilla was the film that I was excited for. Over the last year or two, I quickly went and watched all of the previous Godzilla films in the franchise so that I could be ready for this one when it hit theaters. Well, I made it and the film was excellent!
I have to say that the atmosphere was perfect for the film. It was cloudy and dark outside and you got the feeling that something terrifying was about to happen. Once you entered the theater, it was easy to see how excited everyone was. For once, the place was packed and the room was completely sold out. Surrounded by many Godzilla fans, I quickly braced myself for the inevitable awesomeness. Be warned that this review may contain spoilers!
I barely even need to describe the plot, but I may as well. After the Government “destroyed” Godzilla in 1954, they decided to hide this from the civilians. Joe is forced to move out of his home amidst devastating circumstances, but he suspects that this was no natural occurrence. After a 15 year time skip, forces are on the move on again and the Muto has awoken. Joe’s son, Ford, steps into the main role as he carries on the fight against the monsters. Hope seems to be lost and humanity may need to rely on the power of Godzilla to save them all!
Pretty vague summary, but most of the plot is in the trailer. It’s hard to know where to start in a film like this one where there is so much to say. I suppose that I should begin with the two negatives that I had with the film since it’s all uphill from there. The first negative was the very unnecessary scene that involved a dog attempting to run away from a large flood that was approaching. That scene came out of nowhere and it was added for no discernible reason. That definitely didn’t help the film and I was hoping that Godzilla would manage to avoid this particular error.
The other part that I didn’t care for was the romance between the main character and Elle. They only get two major scenes that are hard to watch, but that’s enough. It may have been a while since they’ve seen each other, but we don’t really need to see that. The scenes were far too long and this wasn’t a huge negative, but a negative all the same. I wouldn’t have minded if they just shook hands or something. That would have definitely been passable.
Now, let’s get into the good parts! Godzilla’s portrayal was spot on! He’s a hero, but he’s a fighter first and foremost. It was awesome to see him completely crushing the Muto monsters. During the first fight, Godzilla was winning effortlessly and there was nothing that they could do to stop him. I’ll admit that I got a little worried when they started double teaming him, but Godzilla still held his own. Godzilla’s Atomic Breath was an epic moment as well. I’m sure that everyone had been waiting for that moment and he definitely made the most out of it. It may not have ended the fight on his first blast, but the next one did the trick. Noticeably, Godzilla made an effort to avoid hurting any of the humans. He did get upset and put them in danger several times, but they were never his main concern.
Muto was a pretty fun villain. We had both a guy and a girl Muto. The guy version was a lot smaller, but he had wings to make up for this. He is definitely not the strongest monster out there, but he is still very large. His size is nothing compared to Godzilla, but his speed serves him well. The design is really fun and it reminds me of Clover, Kamakuras, and maybe even a little Orga in there. His EMP ability is also pretty fun and very useful against the government. It basically means that the humans are helpless against him.
The girl version of Muto is much larger, but she does not possess wings. Her physical strength is admirable and while she was not as physically strong as Godzilla, she was very powerful. Her limbs were sharp enough to stab into Godzilla when she struck and many hits connected against Godzilla. Her striking power is fierce and she proves that she can stand up to any other American Kaiju. Overall, the film did a great job of making this new Kaiju design. It can definitely hold up to any of the older ones and they look amazing.
Ford Brody is the main character and I can’t say that he was my favorite hero of late. He reminds me of Alex Hopper, but Hopper may have been a little better. It’s definitely debatable, but Ford just wasn’t cool to watch. He didn’t give Joe the benefit of the doubt for a while, which was sad. His army training was a nice twist since it gave him some experience, but it actually wasn’t played up all that much. Still, it helped for the Halo jump. Ford isn’t a bad character, but he can’t hold his own film so I’m definitely glad that it’s called Godzilla!
Joe Brody looked like he would be one of the main characters from the trailer and he does get a decent role, but it’s not as large as you may have expected. That’s not a really bad thing, but I would have preferred it if he had gotten a larger role in place of Ford. Joe was a lot more sympathetic and he knew what he was doing at all times. Getting that data was critical…hopefully.
Dr. Serizawa is around and he seems to be the son of the original Serizawa. Unfortunately, he’s a tough character to root for. He locks up the heroes and he then proceeds to make the exact same mistakes that the originals made. Was it really a good idea to let the Kaiju get near some more radiation? I don’t think so! Serizawa keeps on trying to tell the government to let nature run its course and allow Godzilla to win, which is good in theory…but he doesn’t make a strong case. He could have presented his argument in better ways. That being said, this is the army so I doubt that they would have listened to him. Serizawa was a decent character, but he definitely wasn’t as good as he could have been.
Elle Brody doesn’t get a whole lot of scenes, but she seems to be a reasonable person. I still say that Ford and Elle should have taken things a lot slower when he got back home. Elle makes the tough calls at the end, but it’s still good that she sent the kid away. (Maybe, she was safe the whole time so things may have been easier if they had been together) She was all right and maybe Elle will get more of a role in the sequel.
Godzilla’s design is a crucial part of any Godzilla film and this one did a nice job. The only part that I’m still not a fan of is Godzilla’s face. It looks way too much like a Bear and he just doesn’t have that Godzilla grin. Godzilla’s roar is as powerful as ever and the rest of his design is nice and monstrous. It’s definitely one of his better looks and I wouldn’t mind if they kept that design for the next film, but an alteration to the face would be good.
Godzilla gives us a lot of action as well as a few emotional scenes. Sandy Brody’s scene is pretty tragic and you’ll likely remember it from the trailer. Emotional moments can definitely be good as long as they’re handled the “right” way. Naturally that’s subjective, but I would say that the film handled the scene pretty well. It was sad, but it didn’t drag on for a while to keep on reminding us how sad it was.
Godzilla really shines in the action scenes. We didn’t get any until we were at the very end of the film, but it was the perfect setting. Nighttime in the middle of a big city is where I want just about all fights to take place. It’s the perfect arena and I loved seeing Godzilla throw Muto through a few buildings. His atomic breath scene was pretty epic and while the blast was not as big as you may have expected; it was played off as a compacted blast for maximum damage. That worked just as well for me. The fight was styalized after the showa films so we had a lot of hand to hand combat with minimal long range attacks. Godzilla’s final blow against the creature is pretty intense. Perhaps it was a little over the top, but it’s something that many fans had probably been waiting for and it definitely beats what I thought he was about to do. (I don’t want another Anguirus vs Mecha Godzilla right now…) Godzilla basically reminded everyone that you should not try to fight him.
The Mutos managed to land a lot of hits on Godzilla and they did deal a lot of damage, but the victor was never in doubt. I’ll admit that it got a little close for comfort since it was hard to imagine that they could put up such a fight. I did cut the film a little slack there because they parodied the roar part. Godzilla decided to take time off from the fight to let out a roar of challenge and the two monsters promptly took him down. Stopping to roar is not recommended in a fight, but Godzilla used to do that all the time. It was a nice homage.
One area of the film that never made sense was the cutaways. Several times Godzilla would be getting ready to fight Muto and then it would cut away. Once, we even jumped ahead to the next day and we’ll find out that Muto escaped with Godzilla in pursuit. I don’t get how their fights would keep ending so abruptly and it can be a little irritating. It feels like classic plot hax and that’s why they made sure that the scenes weren’t on screen. Perhaps it was the only way to make things believable. Still, I didn’t appreciate missing out on all of those fights so that was definitely a bit of a negative.
On the other hand, I did like the 3D roller coaster effect. Several times, it felt as if you were in a ride where you had to escape from the monsters. The camera would feel as if we were now in first person view as the monsters approached. It meant that we couldn’t really see the action, but it was very epic. One of the scenes that definitely stood out was when the burning train headed towards the two main characters. It felt like a horror scene and it was very well done.
We’ve also got to give the Bus Driver an honorable mention. He went above and beyond the call of duty as he put the peddle to the meddle. I have to give him credit for going full speed twice in the span of a few minutes as he had to get past the Kaiju. The kids were lucky that they were with this trained professional!
The soundtrack was pretty good for the film. We had some very serious themes and even a hero theme or two when Godzilla was fighting against Muto. Live Action films aren’t known for their great soundtracks so it’s always a pleasant surprise to see a film that actually does have some good tunes.
This was definitely a big improvement from the 98 film and I also prefer it to the new Pacific Rim adventure. Compared to other Godzilla films this one definitely won’t be very high in the ranks, but it did manage to defeat a few of them. The original Godzilla, Return of Godzilla, Raids Again, Vs Biollante, etc. This one definitely beat those films, but it naturally pales in comparison to Final Wars, GMK, Vs Mecha Godzilla, and the original Ghidorah The 3 Headed Monster. Hopefully this film does very well at the box office so that they can afford to have some more great fights for the sequel in 2016.
I have to admit that a post credits scene would have been perfect for the film. We got a chinese dragon symbol which may allude to Manda or Ghidorah, but I wanted something a little more bold. A Kaiju in space that is flying towards Earth, a tablet with the words, “Mothra Awakens” or even a final scene with the government and “Project Mecha Godzilla” Adding in any of those scenes would have been very epic and added another boost to the film.
Finally, there was one part in the ending that I did not care for. That part was Godzilla crumpling to the ground after defeating the other two Kaiju. Was it really that much of a fight? The two Muto monsters definitely did some significant damage to him during the double team, but I figured that Godzilla would be able to bounce back from it. I’m glad that he waited for the Mutos to be out of the picture before fainting, but I didn’t expect that from Godzilla. I just thought that he’d head back to the ocean and call it a day. I expect him to end his next fight with a little less damage to show off Godzilla’s unlimited stamina and determination!
Overall, Godzilla is everything that I could have hoped for! Godzilla looked incredible and the monster fights were a lot of fun. The Dog scene may have helped to knock down the score along with the romance, but the film definitely succeeded in the long run. I highly recommend checking this film out as soon as possible and you won’t be disappointed. It’s not every day that you get to watch the King of the Monsters in theaters after all!