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Godzilla (2014) What went wrong? – A Movie Review

Godzilla is one of my favorite childhood monsters. He is not only the metaphorical representation of our worst nuclear nightmares, but he also helped to shape the Kaiju industry in Japan that every year sells millions of dollars in merchandise, and movie tickets.

After the mega flop of Godzilla (1998), I thought reasonably that Hollywood would never try to make another Godzilla movie again. I was wrong. However, I did believe honestly that the film studios had learned their lesson the hard way, and now I was preparing for a much better installment. Boy, I was so wrong again.

Godzilla 2014 logo. Picture by Sierratangoxray CC BY-SA 3.0 1)

Fatzilla: King of Monsters

Godzilla (2014) has lots of great stuff, but it was poorly developed as a story. This is until now the best special effects I have seen in a Godzilla movie. The prevalent details in every shot, the scenery, and how Godzilla and his enemies looked on screen, sometimes makes you forget that you are watching CGI animated puppets on green screens. The scenes when you look Godzilla swimming below an aircraft carrier, or walking around the buildings look so real that it makes you drop your jaw in awe. Unfortunately, the acting, and above all the writing, don't possess that kind of technological miracles that can turn a bad movie into a good one.

Although, the effects are cool and worth noting, the design of the monsters, including Godzilla, wasn't that good. Godzilla looked as he had eaten a Stay Puft monster from Ghostbusters (1984) every day for the last 16 years. At first, I reasoned that maybe it was designed to be very buffed, but after a while, watching him barely walking around, I had to concede that he was just fatty. The enemies were somewhat cool, but the design wasn't what I was expecting. I thought they have learned about the Japanese monsters design, and I was expecting Kaiju more similar to those we have already watched in Pacific Rim (2013), but they ended up doing something more similar to Cloverfield (2008).

And the story was indeed something that we can relate more to Cloverfield than any Godzilla movie we have seen before. In this new Godzilla reboot they focus much more in the drama around people finding out Godzilla's existence for the first time than in the clash of the monsters. I normally wouldn't mind that kind of focus on the storyline, if it weren't for the really bad acting, and the disparity between the different performances on screen. That said, the movie wound up being just as subpar as Cloverfield was. The fighting monster scenes were maybe the most disappointing ones. When I watched the movie, I went with a friend who told me after a while: “Have you noticed that every time the monsters are gonna fight, they [the editing] just cut it away?” I was in shock. I wasn't aware about it until the moment that he said it. He was right. They just interrupted every fight on purpose, to focus on every different character in the movie, except for the last brawl, of course . I was just devastated once I realized that.

Badzilla, worse acting

In this movie I have seen five good actors doing what they could to save the movie to no avail. What could they possibly do with such bad directing? Gareth Edwards (Factory Farmed, Monsters) before directing Godzilla, he had directed only two movies and one TV episode. So, multi-awarded actors like Bryan Cranston (Argo,Breaking Bad), Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai, Inception), Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky, Blue Jasmine), and Juliette Binoche (The English Patient, Chocolat) can't make miracles with his lack of experience as a director, and even Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene, OldBoy) with her charismatic smile and brilliant future in this business was not able to save the day. To add insult to injury, the movie can be easily divided in four parts: An introduction that could have been shorter, the annoying crazy father and his quest for the truth, the son who escapes from Hawaii, and finally the monsters smashing San Francisco. All these pieces make a “scene-salad” movie seasoned with lots of CGI dressing.

Definitely Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass, Kick-Ass 2) was the worst actor, interpreting Lt. Ford Brody, a more-than-lucky soldier that keeps breaking his promises throughout the movie. He appears in nonsensical situations trying to rescue everyone around him as he faces Godzilla, or any of the monsters, one time after another. Additionally, he does this without showing any real emotion on his face and with a rigid body, as if he were making fun of us as an audience. As I am sitting in front of the screen, I keep wondering, why this guy had a whole movie, while the other much better actors just stayed a portion of it? Why Mr. Edwards, why? But the most disappointing thing about Taylor-Johnson is, that he is going to play Quicksilver in the next Avengers movie. A fun fact is that Taylor-Johnson and Evan Peters (Kick-Ass, X-Men: Days of Future Past) both interpret the same character Quicksilver in two different Marvel franchises (Avengers and X-Men respectively), and they performed together in Kick-Ass (2010) as friends. I have hope, though, that the savvy Joss Whedon will handle him much better than Edwards did in this movie.

upload.wikimedia.org_wikipedia_commons_0_0f_elizabeth_olsen_2c_aaron_taylor-johnson_26_bryan_cranston.jpg
Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Bryan Cranston at Comic Con 2013 in San Diego. Picture by Gage Skidmore CC BY-SA 2.0 2)

In Conclusion

The best Godzilla CGI version I have seen so far was in the opening scene of Always Zoku Sanchoume no Yuuhi (2007) (Always: Sunset on Third Street 2), and it lasts only two minutes. This movie lasted two hours and three minutes, and it never got it right. It was unnecessary long and could have been done in 90 minutes. The special effects were incredibly cool, but there is a lack of personality in the character's design. The music sounded like an imitation of the original theme, and in my opinion, they should have stuck to the latter. The acting was so terrible that the movie seemed like a spaghetti made with raw characters, served over a very weak story.

Of course, this is an improvement of the shameful 1998 version, however, this could have been much better with a more experienced director and a shorter version, unless they would have a more interesting script, which they hadn't. The human centric view of this movie made it a really boring version of what we already had, several times and already done by the Japanese. Besides a couple of brilliant scenes, this movie has nothing to offer. Next time you want to see a Godzilla movie, I recommend you to get Godzilla (1954), not this mediocre re imagination.

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References:
1) Sierratangoxray (May 14th 2014). Logo von Godzilla. (Uploaded by Sierratangoxray) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en)], undefined. Picture Available On-line in http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bd/Godzilla_%282014%29_-_Logo_-_2.png
2) Skidmore, Gage (July 20th 2013). Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Bryan Cranston promoting the film Godzilla at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con International. (Uploaded by Flickr.com bot) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en)], undefined. Picture Available On-line in http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0f/Elizabeth_Olsen%2C_Aaron_Taylor-Johnson_%26_Bryan_Cranston.jpg

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