I'm doing a re-review of Godzilla 2014 as I said in my Godzilla: Resurgence review. I'm going in this time without the biased fanboy point of view, or at least I'll try. Just like the previous review, I'm going to split it into two parts: good and bad and just like before, we'll start with the film's negatives. If you haven't seen my review of Godzilla: Resurgence then look here.
Godzilla: Resurgence ReviewI was able to find it here for free since I missed it in theaters. If you haven't been able to see it then don't miss it.
So I'm going to do something a little different today. I saw the new Godzilla film about 10 minutes ago and I feel as though I've had ample time to reflect on it. Plus, I'm going to do another review on the 2014 Godzilla film but this time putting the fanboy in me aside (or at least try); I loved the film when it came out two years ago, I was ecstatic about it, and I was happy that they did Godzilla justice but I've cooled down over the years and I think the fan in me is quenched enough to think straight. Anyhow, I'll get straight to the point.
In general, it wasn't bad but it wasn't great either. To make this easier, I'll split the review starting with the negatives and then talk about the positives. I'll also do the same for the 2014 review but this right now is for Shin
In a nutshell, I had a great time in theaters when I saw this film and even now, while the film may not be as exciting as it once was, it's still a fun ride. That being said, I can't help but address certain things about the film that bugged me.
The characters are a mixed bag but since we're talking about the film's negatives, I'll jump straight to the point. While the characters aren't utter unbearable shit (unlike a certain 1998 counterpart), they're kind of boring. I understand exactly what Gareth Edwards was going for and I get it: he wanted a realistic setting with realistic, relatable characters... but I think that while that is part of the film's strength, it is also part of its downfall. The director made the characters so down to Earth that there is nothing special about their personalities. While no one does a terrible job at acting per say, the characters lack emotion aside from Joe Brody (aka Bryan Cranston) and his character's early exit in the film didn't help this case either; I had no problem with Cranston's death but what I did have a problem with was how early he died because he carried all the emotion. With his character gone, we're stuck with Ford Brody (aka Kickass) and while he isn't terrible, his character just doesn't emote..... ever. Like I said: I get it, I understand what Gareth was going for. He wanted Ford Brody to essentially be the everyman's action hero similar to John McClane or Indiana Jones but the problem lies in Ford's 'tired' character. John McClane and Indiana Jones are fun, adventurous characters that look like they're invested in getting the job done whereas Ford is... I don't know, he just looks tired as shit all the time which I guess is understandable (I mean, his dad went crazy, his mom died, and he did just get back after a fourteen month deployment) but from an entertainment standpoint, it falls apart and if we're talking about realism, people in the military tend to have an absurd sense of humor (trust me, after being stuck out at sea for more than half a year, you'd be surprised at what you find funny), seeing Ford Brody lack a sense of humor was like finding a necessary missing ingredient in an awesome foreign dish. Anyhow, the only other characters you have are Dr. Serizawa (and his assitant), Elle Brody, and Admiral Stenz. Dr. Serizawa is actually an interesting character but he isn't given much to do other than spout exposition and stare at Godzilla in awe (can't really blame him though... I'd do the same thing
). Elle Brody isn't too interesting but she possessed the most emotion out of the cast (second to Joe Brody) and while that was a good thing, she isn't given much screen time. Admiral Stenz was a very understandable character but again... just like Elle, he wasn't given enough screen time to leave a greater impression. I guess that all in all, Ford Brody just isn't too interesting as a protagonist and more of his screen time should have been cut in favor of the other three characters... and kill off Joe Brody LATER ON in the film instead of at the beginning.
You guys knew that I was going to get to this: cock teasing Godzilla's appearance. The screen time for me wasn't the biggest issue, it was the fucking abrupt cutaways that always left me feeling... a little cheated if I'm being completely honest here. I get it, Godzilla doesn't get much screen time in his franchise, I UNDERSTAND THAT (I mean, it's basically common knowledge at this point) but abruptly cutting away from that fight scene in Hawaii (while hilarious) was such a cop-out. It was irritating enough there but it also continued throughout the film until the very end. Not much to say other than that, pretty straightforward.
A minor gripe... but I do feel as though Godzilla could have been in the film at least ten more minutes... or at least shown fighting a little longer.
I don't have an ill will against the M.U.T.O., I thought they were pretty cool and all but it's very easy to see that their body structure was based on the Cloverfield Monster. I remember seeing old concept art of the creatures that actually looked better than the film's final design. This is more like a nitpick, I know, but I think that even a few more features could have made the M.U.T.O.s look more memorable. That being said, Toho has made worse monsters before so I'm not entirely ungrateful. All in all: M.U.T.O.s were cool but they need to be more refined.
Okay, another minor gripe... Godzilla's head could be one size bigger. I know, I LOVE Legendary's Godzilla design as much as the next hardcore Godzilla lover but it's something that I can't pass up. On top of that, I think his feet could of had slightly longer toes. I give props to S.H. MonsterArts images-na.ssl-images-amazon.co…
for fixing the minor gripes in the design.
I'm not even sure if this should be on the list but there are some night time scenes that are too dark for the film's own good. I say "I'm not even sure if this should be on the list" because I didn't have this problem in the theater. In the theater, the film looked fantastic and even on my T.V. monitor, it STILL looks fantastic. However, I've seen the movie played on certain T.V. sets along with my own laptop and the darkness is magnified for some odd reason. Again, not sure if it's a DVD thing or a T.V. thing... just felt like it was worth mentioning.
It takes a while for the film to pick up... and I mean like thirty minutes. Look, I'm a patient man but I can't lie when I say that Godzilla's presence is lost for a while. He's in the very beginning of the film and after he takes a nuke to the face, the film then focuses on the M.U.T.O. attacking the power plant soon after which is cool and all... then cut to fifteen years later. It's at this point where the film drops for a while. While I wasn't really angered by this, I felt as though this part of the film could have picked up the pace more. It's like when you're trying to get to an important destination... then you hit a pothole and your car get's stuck. I mean, you get free regardless but when you're done, you feel as though you missed out on a good chunk of time.
Godzilla isn't very aggressive. Now this is kind of complicated because I know why he isn't: Godzilla is treated as an Alpha Predator, a creature that claims territory and destroys anything that threatens it (in this case: Earth=territory and M.U.T.O.=threat). I understand what they were going for and there is NOTHING WRONG with that, it makes perfect sense given the realistic take and it's overall a much better idea in general. I'm not asking to change Godzilla entirely, just modify his behavior a little. Instead of just shrugging off tank fire, why not have Godzilla get irritated and crush the said tanks? Y'know? Just make Godzilla a little more aggressive. The only scene where he does fight back against the military is during the Golden Gate scene but even then, it takes a while before Godzilla actually get's irritated enough to smash through the bridge. I know, another minor gripe. Not really a huge problem, it's just that Godzilla is at his best when he's angry.
This isn't necessarily a huge issue and it's more out of preference than anything else but... I wish that there was a little more absurdity in this film. Yes, I know that this film is a realistic take, Gareth Edwards mentioned that already. That being said, it would have been nice to see a little more absurdity in the film such as Godzilla's nuclear pulse, red spiral ray, or even the bloody oxygen destroyer (or even new M.U.T.O. powers). Yeah, I know it's not really a criticism but I just think the film could have been more fun that way.
This isn't really an issue but more like a really really small, small plot hole. Remember when Dr. Serizawa said that Monarch kept the existance of kaiju a secret from the public because they didn't want to cause panic? Well, where was all the panic? The movie cuts to Ford talking to his wife over the phone and she's just having a normal working day at the hospital... uh, shouldn't the amount of patients they have be overflowing now considering all the damage and casualties being caused by the M.U.T.O.s? At least? Just saying. I thought the world was supposed to panic after learning about the existence of these creatures
. I know this doesn't really affect how the film turned out but regardless, I just thought it was worth pointing out.
Without a doubt: GODZILLA HIMSELF. Aside from some minor gripes in the head and feet, he looks amazing. Not only does the modern high tech computer animation capture him perfectly in design, but also in size and weight. He looks HUGE and they did a fine job at animating his slow, sluggish movements which only added to his tank-like design. As a bonus too, they also modeled his movements and bulk after Grizzly Bears which gave him a very animal-like feel which is something that's been sorely missing from the man in rubber suit technique. A multitude of other animals were also incorporated into his design such as the Bald Eagle, Komodo Dragon, Crocodile, Elephant, and even dogs while STILL retaining the basic necessities that make Godzilla iconic (aka the spikes, scales, dinosaur-like body, and human-like stance). If there was one thing that was done right in this film, it was Godzilla himself.
Godzilla's foes were also really well done for the most part. While they weren't entirely unique, I was happy to see Legendary actually take the time to create something new for Godzilla's franchise. The Predator/prey relationship that was also established between the two species was also very unique because in the end, both Godzilla and the M.U.T.O. were both prey to one another which is something that hasn't really been done before in the franchise (or at least been brought to mind). While their design leaves a little more to be desired, at least some creativity went into these creatures, which is more than I can say for Kamacuras, Kumonga, Ebirah................ or Gabarah
Before this film, I never once heard of Alexandre Desplat and I feel like an ass for being so ignorant... his soundtrack is just fucking beautiful. Even now as I type this review up, I am still listening to the beauty of the soundtrack he composed. Grant it, while none of the music is from the original Godzilla series, I don't think I'd trade this soundtrack for the classics at all... I literally have nothing to complain about in the soundtrack. The music is eerie, spooky, and suspenseful and the inclusion of the Japanese style bongos and other instruments was a beautiful touch. I'm not going to lie, I usually forget most of the Godzilla soundtracks from each film (I know shame on me
) with the exceptions being GMK: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, Godzilla: Final Wars, and Gojira (the original) but now it looks like Godzilla 2014 joins the ranks. I'm glad that Alexandre Desplat won the WSA award for the film, he definitely deserves it.
There is nothing to complain about with the special effects. The animation for the kaiju looks fluid, heavy, and majestic and the few action scenes that there are are flashy, explosive, and fun to watch. While I think a few props could have been used for some of the monster scenes, I can't really complain because the CG looks topnotch. Half the time, I forget that the monsters aren't real
This is hard to nail down because most don't seem to agree but I personally loved the suspense. As I said before: my favorite genre in movies is suspense but most filmmakers refuse to touch it. That being said, the suspense isn't perfect because it does take about thirty minutes or so for the film to pick up the pace but when it does, I always feel tingly. The buildup to the monster fights and Godzilla's finishing moves (especially during the last thirty minutes when San Francisco get's trashed) coupled with the military intervention and Alexandre Desplat's awesome soundtrack makes the film very riveting.
This should probably be up there with the special effects but I'm just putting it here for extra measure: the action is intense. Rather than just show Godzilla walk over miniature model cities, you get ground zero views from the characters in the movie as all the death and destruction commences in front of them which is great because you feel more involved and in the process, the film feels much more real. The action between the kaiju while short, is very raw. There is nothing fancy: no jump kicks, karate chops, just pure savagery between really big animals. On top of that, the intelligence of the creatures was utilized very well. Seeing the M.U.T.O.s work together as a team against Godzilla was very appreciated and seeing Godzilla learn from his enemies' strengths and weaknesses was very refreshing as he had to rely on more than just his brute strength this time around. Of course, seeing Godzilla use his atomic ray was welcome site too.
Like I said: the characters are a mixed bag. Here, I'll talk about what's good about them. They're all likable, relatable, and bearable and you see the action happening on the ground with them. While they may be boring, they're a step in the right direction......... a REALLY small step I may add. Bryan Cranston killed it (no pun intended) as Joe Brody, Ken Watanabe did the best he could as Dr. Serizawa (and wound up getting the best lines), and Aaron Taylor Johnson did... eh, okay as the everyman action hero. Yes, Joe Brody died way too early but if it means anything, I'd rather have 10 minutes of Bryan Cranston over an hour of Matthew Broderick. Like I said, the characters are step in the right direction...... just really, really small.
I feel like this HAS to be a separate bullet because the sound effects are also amazing. Godzilla's refined roar in this film is POWERFUL. Whether you're in a theater or at home on your T.V. monitor, turn on the surround sound and when Godzilla's roars, the room shakes, it's just awesome. The M.U.T.O.s also have really cool screech sounds that are made from a combination of things that I honestly can't name off the bat because there's too much to type up. Even the small sound effects like the gunfire and explosions are completely fitting and unlike Godzilla: Resurgence, none of the sounds feel out of place. Only one classic sound effect is used in the film and it lasts for a couple of seconds: Mothra's roar, which is incorporated into Hokmuto's roar. Anyhow, the sound effects are awesome, loud, and powerful. You like power? Godzilla gives it to you, literally.
Again, much like Godzilla: Resurgence, the camera work is awesome. You get a lot of shots from the ground which makes the monsters look larger than life and when the creatures fight, the shaky cam is completely abandoned for still shots which capture every bit of detail in the fights.
Also just like Godzilla: Resurgence, the tone is very well done. I'm glad that they went for a serious tone but decided to tone down the grittiness that everyone was asking for (for some bloody reason), I would have hated to see Godzilla become The Dark Knight with a giant lizard. The tone was serious, but nothing that felt emotionally draining.
As much as a lot of people didn't like the military intervention, it's actually something I've always wanted in a Godzilla film, even as a kid. In nearly every Godzilla film, the military is idiotic, they get shit on, and they just focus on constantly bombing the creatures even though there is literally no effect. In this film, there is actually a strategy and while it doesn't work (like always because kaiju are indestructible), it was nice to see the military use its firepower to try and stray the monsters away from civilians and their current path of destruction. Plus, the idea of using the nukes to lure the M.U.T.O. and having the M.U.T.O. lure Godzilla was actually pretty ingenious, too bad no one counted on the Hokmuto moving the nuke to another location
. This is probably just me being purely biased but I honestly thought that the heavier military involvement made perfect sense and it felt different for a Godzilla movie and I like that.
There, I'm done. Hopefully, I never have to write another review like this again. I don't love it as much as I used to but I overall still enjoy Godzilla 2014. For America's kaiju franchise, it was a step in the right direction and I hope that Legendary's future films improve with each sequel.
All in all, I give Godzilla 2014 a 7 out of 10. It's good, just good. I don't think I could give this film a higher score if I wanted too.