Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Godzilla Resurgence Review


Godzilla is a series that I had always wanted to check out, but it took me quite a while to do so. Finally, about 2-3 years ago I went back and checked out every movie in chronological order. To this date, it is probably one of my biggest achievements. This film would be my first Japanese Godzilla film in theaters so I was ready for a blast and a half. It’s definitely a very solid film and Godzilla certainly does appear more than he did in the American film, at least it felt that way to me. While it definitely loses to a lot of the classic Godzilla films as I enjoy the Mega Monster brawls, this will certainly be remembered as a classic.

The plot is fairly standard for a G film. Godzilla has arisen and now the Government must try to find a way to suppress him before the whole planet is put at risk. Japan will have to do this while also keeping the foreign governments happy. America is willing to use their nuclear options and wipe Tokyo off the map if necessary. The old guard is at the end of their ropes so it is time for the next generation-led by Yaguchi, to save the day. The real question is..can they defeat the King of the Monsters?

Controversially, this film was confirmed to not have any antagonist for Godzilla from early on. That was a shame in my opinion because the monster fights are the main reason why I love the Godzilla films so much. There are many films that only have a single monster like the Beast from 20,000 Fathoms or King Kong, but the battles are what separates Godzilla from the pack. Not to mention that in my very controversial opinion, the films where Godzilla has no antagonist are typically the weaker ones. One day I want to come up with my personal list of where I would rank each Godzilla film. It’ll be difficult though since there are so many and you can make a great case for most of them. Sometimes I can barely put Final Wars as my favorite because GMK and the classic Ghidorah The Three Headed Monster are so good.

Lets launch into the positives. I was expecting this Godzilla film to be really serious and over the top dark based on the title. “Shin” usually means that something is going to be dark and dreary. The film is serious, but Resurgence has a lot of light hearted moments. I got to see this in a fairly packed theater with an energetic crowd and people were laughing constantly. The film feels just as comedic as the original Showa films at some point. It may not always be intentional, but I think it definitely was for at least 80-90% of the scenes. It’s good to be able to mix these tone shifts and the film does it quite well.

The humans never come across as annoying. Yaguchi is a good lead. He may panic from time to time, but he also comes up with a lot of good ideas and never gives up. The American representative Kayoko is also pretty likable. I always like having an American character step into the fray and she feels American right from the start. She is very direct and quippy as opposed to the other serious characters. I also appreciated the film’s restraint with not pushing for a very unrealistic and sudden romance and keeping things professional instead. Friendship isn’t dead quite yet and people can get along without having to take the next step. The Prime Minister was also fun as he was clearly out of his depths, but tried to keep on a tough face. Watching him and the group switch from room to room was definitely entertaining.

The film showed how having a lot of bureaucracy can be a very bad thing. It’s hard to act on a situation when you have to jump through so many hoops. The film portrays America in a very good light as a result as the country does whatever it wants whenever it wants too. America promotes young people who have fresh ideas and it has led to them becoming a global power. America was also portrayed with the might that is appropriate for them as their missiles are the first thing to actually injure Godzilla. They dealt quite a lot of damage and while I don’t think a nuclear missile would have finished Godzilla off, they are one of the only placed to have such an arsenal up their sleeve. I was definitely very satisfied.

Naturally, seeing Godzilla was also a blast. Shooting Atomic Breath out of his spikes and out of his tail was awesome and the whole crowd cheered quite a bit during this moment. It’s a little morbid since he basically took out an entire city, but who wasn’t rooting for Godzilla? I was definitely on Team Kaiju from the start. Godzilla keeps the army at bay for quite a while and he looks fairly tough as you would expect. However, I wasn’t completely thrilled with his portrayal as I had some negatives.

My first gripe is that they went with CGI for Godzilla instead of a suit. CGI can work decently well at times I suppose, but this wasn’t one of them. This is easily the worst Godzilla design of all time aside from the 1998 film which barely counts. People chuckled when Godzilla first appeared in his Rooster form and I was fairly shocked. Luckily, it was just something to throw us off, but I don’t think that Godzilla’s first stage should look like that. Even once he turned into his final form, Godzilla felt fairly off. I’m not crazy about the fact that it always looks like he is bleeding when he walks and that he has to shoot out blood in his first form.

While I don’t mind the narrow stream of Atomic Breath, it certainly looks more impressive when it is a wide blast. Also, I don’t like the way his face has to completely open up in order to shoot the blast. It looks a little gross and disturbing like the Predator’s true face in the classic horror series. It almost makes it seem like a weakness as he will be very vulnerable during that time. The back rays are still cool as they can react in time to stop high speed missiles, but Godzilla shouldn’t run out of energy so quickly. I always have to mention moments that I deem as “plot hax” in these films and Resurgence is no exception. The humans obviously have to come up with some kind of plan at the end, but I would have been more content with Godzilla just walking away like in the 2014 movie. Without going into detail, the plan should not have worked. Godzilla seemed to lose all of his smarts as he walked into every trap and expended energy when he did not need too. It should have been game over for the humans right from the get go and even knocking him down was a bit of a stretch. Either this Godzilla is less durable than some of the others or he just underestimated them. If the film was trying to portray the latter, I didn’t quite buy into it.

The soundtrack for the film is definitely pretty good. There were one or two themes that were memorable like the opera esque tune. Seeing the original Godzilla theme return with a new remix was definitely a lot of fun as well. I was actually expecting more homages to the original films, but I suppose you don’t really need them since the film holds up so well on its own. I really would have liked a good cliffhanger to end the film though. I suppose you could count a certain scene as a possible cliffhanger, but I wanted another monster to roar or something. This film seems like it isn’t really leading up to a sequel so maybe we’ll the next live action film will be another take on the classic franchise.

While listing all of the films in order is tough, in order to celebrate Godzilla’s latest film I thought I’d give it my best shot in this review. Tentatively here’s how I rank them and each row is in order. Keep in mind that these ranks are comparatively so just because a Godzilla film is in D rank doesn’t mean that I consider it to be remotely as bad as films like Pixels and I Know What You Did Last Summer. I’m doing this list off of my head so I’m not looking at my older reviews or blog posts for reference. As a result, the list may look a little different than it would if we went purely by the scores that I gave. It’s been a while since I saw these films so I may remember them differently, but I also didn’t have time to look at all of my posts so this was a little simpler.

S Rank Godzilla Final Wars, GMK, Ghidorah The Three Headed Monster, Godzilla vs Hedorah, Godzilla vs Mecha Godzilla II, Godzilla (2000), Terror of Mecha Godzilla

A Rank Godzilla vs King Kong, Godzilla vs Mecha Godzilla, Godzilla Against Mecha Godzilla, Godzilla Tokyo SOS, Invasion of the Astro Monster, Godzilla vs Destoroyah, Mothra vs Godzilla

B Rank Godzilla vs Space Godzilla, Godzilla vs King Ghidorah, Godzilla vs Ebirah, Godzilla’s Revenge, Godzilla vs Gigan, Godzilla vs Mothra, Godzilla vs Megalon

C Rank Destroy All Monsters, Godzilla (2014) Son of Godzilla, Godzilla Resurgence

D Rank Godzilla Raids Again, Gojira (1954), Godzilla vs Biollante, Godzilla (1998), The Return of Godzilla, Godzilla vs Megaguirus

It’s definitely tough to list them all and my feelings on the films can be really contradictory. Take Godzilla (2014) and Godzilla Resurgence as they are the two latest films. On one hand, I feel like Godzilla was easily the more intense film. The action scenes were great and the Muto made for a really good villain. The mythos around the film are more interesting and the ending was much better. On the other hand, the human characters in Resurgence were far superior as well as the writing and the pacing. Resurgence never drags on or has any real filler scenes. It captures the impact of Godzilla’s first appearance a lot better and the comedic tones work really well. So…should Godzilla really beat Resurgence? Both films are just so close that it is really hard to stick with one over the other for long, but alas decisions must be made at some point.

Overall, Godzilla Resurgence is definitely a fun film. The humans are easily some of the most interesting and least annoying ones that I have seen in a very long time. I also haven’t seen a Japanese live action film in a very long time so it is interesting to see how they film the movie as opposed to the ones that I’m used too. There are a lot more close ups on the characters, which worked well for comedic effect, but I don’t think I would want that to happen too often. The only real weak point of the movie is the fact that there are no other monsters and that Godzilla’s design isn’t all that good. Still, I definitely recommend it to all Godzilla fans and to anyone that likes a good creature feature. The pacing is very quick so the film never drags on. I look forward to seeing the new Godzilla animated film or the American one coming up. Either way, I will be awaiting them at the theater.

Overall 7/10

Advertisements
Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Godzilla (2014) Review

2014_godzilla-wide
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!

Overall 8/10