Last Level Press

Film Review: Godzilla (2014)

Reviewer: Olen Bjorgo

Godzilla is one of those cultural icons that has the international fame and appeal to multiple ages and generations. For sixty years, the King of the Monsters has graced the screen, from ancient primordial threat to Cold War metaphor, from humanity’s mightiest hero to its greatest enemy. This Godzilla, however, is a different beast that is inspired by a mixture of these various aspects. And while this film portrays an Americanized version of the most well-known Kaiju, it is worlds superior compared to what was attempted in 1998.

“Damn right.  I straight up murdered that poser once I got

back with my Toho crew!”

Though the days of the costumed monster might be nothing more than a distant memory, the Godzilla films in general have always been spectacles that can be enjoyed in a visual sense, and this is no different. While we don’t see much of Godzilla in the beginning, we are introduced to a number of different locations over the course of the film, and a lot of them are destroyed. Perhaps to the chagrin of some fans, or lovers of the stereotypes and tropes associated with giant monster films, Tokyo is not destroyed. Instead, we have a destroyed San Francisco… which was the first city targeted in Pacific Rim. However, what we do see of the monsters is truly awesome. Not in the “this is awesome!” variety but the “I am in awe by what I see,” because not only are they truly behemoth but they just look absolutely phenomenal.

“You’re next, Oakland.”

The audio is big and loud and bombastic, but that’s like saying a musical has singing. While it is a shame that the rights to the original Godzilla theme weren’t purchased for this film, it’s strangely for the best simply because this is its own film. The opening track, aptly named “Godzilla!”, captures the feel of the original films: it prepares you to feel the unspeakable power created by beings so far removed from us that it can be best described as inhuman. The track that plays when Godzilla’s foe, the MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism), hatches from his spore is equally powerful. The soundtrack, composed by Alexandre Desplat (The King’s Speech), is worthy of a nomination to say the least in my book.

While many might decry the lack of Godzilla being seen in the film, it’s honestly going along with a tradition of many Godzilla films, where you will probably say “Well it’s about time you arrived!” when the big lizard does arrive, and was more of a comfort to me that they didn’t have Godzilla show up and start destroying everything right away. There was a slow build up as the MUTO did all the big destruction scenes, and it portrayed Godzilla more as a hero, but that is a big if, since Godzilla is not beneath massive acts of destruction, nor would I even say Godzilla acted as an anti-hero. Rather, I think the real theme of the narrative is how humanity is ultimately not in control of nature, that we are subjects to its overwhelming power, and our strength is ultimately not in overcoming or submitting to nature, but in how we react and survive against the face of such adversity. This is best shown in how the monsters aren’t initially reported as monsters but as natural disasters, specifically earthquakes, typhoons, and tsunamis. Even more specifically, these are natural disasters that those living in and along the Pacific Ocean are all too familiar with.

Come on, Dad.  Change the channel before somebody blames

a politician!

While the cast consists of brilliant actors, I can’t help but feel that some were mostly one-note or just underused. Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Malcolm in the Middle) plays a family man who lost it all and wants to prove that what took away his happiness was not a natural event, and does so loudly and angrily. Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass, Savages) plays Cranston’s son, a military man whose specialty is disarming bombs, and thinks his father is crazy until he discovers his father was right all along, and survives impossible odds. Elizabeth Olsen (Silent House, Captain America: The Winter Soldier) plays the dutiful wife who wants to keep their son safe while she works at the hospital as a nurse and is worried for her husband. Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai, Inception) plays a Japanese scientist who is part of the Monarch organization that has studied and covered up Godzilla’s existence since the 1950s, and mostly does little except stare at walls and tell the military that it’s a bad idea to use nukes. I don’t expect deep character development in a Godzilla film, but if we have to follow them they should at least be a bit more fun to watch, and maybe feel bad when they face tragedy.

But what do I expect from a Godzilla film? I expect to have fun. I expect to see destruction. I expect to see monsters fighting and causing death and mayhem to metropolitan areas. And do you know what I got? I got exactly what I expected, and I’m satisfied. If you’re a bit uncertain, maybe wait for the film, and rent it. However, I feel like even if you are uncertain you should still go see it in theaters since it is the best way to experience it… unless your hobby is making your home entertainment as close to a movie theater as possible. If you’re expecting the sort of film that you would expect from Toho, don’t count on it. If you’re expecting the sort of film that we got when I was nine, prepare to be blown away. But if you’re expecting to have fun, even with its flaws, then I highly encourage you to see this film. If this gets the big box office numbers then maybe we can expect a new line of Godzilla films for a whole new generation of fans. And if that doesn’t happen, we can at least still enjoy the old movies.

Rating: 7.4

Visuals: 8
Audio: 9
Narrative: 8
Acting: 4
Atmosphere & Experience: 8

Final Verdict:


  Director: Gareth Edwards

  Producer: Thomas Tull

                   Jon Jashni

                   Mary Parent

                   Brian Rogers

  Studio: Legendary Pictures, W.B.

  Release Date (U.S.): May 16, 2014

  Release Date (E.U.): May 14, 2014

  Release Date (JP): Jul 25, 2014

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