Godzilla (Gareth Edwards, 2014)
This 60th anniversary reboot of Godzilla had the potential to be rather terrible. From all reports the last Godzilla (Roland Emmerich, 1998) was just that, and who could really be surprised when the director had a name like Roland? I have seen the original Japanese film, Gojira (Ishirô Honda1954) and though I can’t remember much about it, I recall that it was decent, or at least by 1950s standards (pretty sure Godzilla was a dinosaur figurine). Set in the present day, this Godzilla acknowledges its origins, with Godzilla returning above sea level for the first time since 1954 (I think they just chose to forget the 1998 movie). It’s possible I am too easily satisfied by certain science fiction movies because I never quite get the science and am thus often unaware of bad plot holes – I just assume it’s my own ignorance. That may have been the case here but at least that meant I was entertained.
This film is hardly ground-breaking, but it’s everything you want in a monster movie (possibly with the exception of rational scientific explanations, but then again I really don’t know). There was SUSPENSE. There were SCARES! There were clichéd moments where you know how things are going to roll but you love them anyway because WHO DOESN’T LOVE A KID GETTING SEPARATED FROM HIS PARENTS AND THEN HAVING A TEARY REUNION? It’s so obvious and so predictable but somehow the excitement is still there. The score by Alexandre Desplat was great at maintaining the tension. The scary moments in the film weren’t nightmare-inducing but sufficiently frightening. There’s something about a sack of eggs that is just so damn horrifying. Maybe it’s the psychoanalytic connotations. Or my fear of hatching spider eggs. Or that terrifying kids movie, Stepmonster (Jeremy Stanford, 1993). Or the fact I had nits in my hair NINE TIMES as a child and then developed a paranoia about my toys being infested with them. I’m also not much of a fan of eggs as a food. So yep, the egg sack was most definitely the scariest part of Godzilla for me.
Godzilla doesn’t fully appear until quite far into the film. Director Gareth Evans was reportedly inspired by Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975) in this respect. I can’t tell you whether this was an effective choice because I’m an idiot and I thought the M.U.T.O. was Godzilla until I turned to my boyfriend and asked why it suddenly looked different and he laughed at me. It did explain why it hadn’t looked overly Godzillary though. It dawned on me later on that the film was a bit too overly dark, and I mean literally. In the climax of the film it’s night time and raining and the black/dark grey monsters do not really stand out enough. Nevertheless, the visual effects were impressive for the most part. I also enjoyed the opening credit sequence – that’s one of the few things blockbuster movies consistently do well. I have to wonder what Guillermo Del Toro would have done with this film. The Pan’s Labyrinth director was rumoured to have once been in talks to direct. Not that Gareth Edwards did a bad job. I was concerned when I saw the unknown name come up in the opening credits but it was relatively good, considering. Better than The Not-So-Amazing Spiderman. It would be great if good directors made these types of movies more often. But I guess they have better things to do like, I dunno, work on original ideas.
I was surprised by the early emotional pull of this film, which speaks volumes about Bryan Cranston’s and Juliette Binoche’s acting abilities that they made us care so much about their characters so early on. Unfortunately this doesn’t quite keep up as the film goes on and the film starts to centre on Aaron Taylor-Johnson who was just okay. Some have criticised his performance but it may well just be bad writing. The cast included some well-respected names (Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn), but they seemed wasted in uninspired roles. Rising star, Elizabeth Olsen put in a beautiful performance but she pretty much just cries and waits for her husband to return – it’s very much a boys club movie with a few token women thrown into the mix.
As is becoming the norm these days, a sequel was confirmed just ten days after Godzilla’s opening. WHAT IS WITH THAT? Do we need a sequel for every single successful blockbuster? Just enjoy your one film for a goddamn second and stop coming up with ways to potentially tarnish your whole franchise by making some bullshit sequel. THIS HAS TO STOP! THINK OF THE CHILDREN! And the awful cinema they will be forced to endure, all the while losing any resemblance of creativity because they are growing up in a world where the same old shit is recycled over and over again. To reiterate, I did enjoy this film. But it’s done now. Move on.
Overall, Godzilla wasn’t highly original, but a number of exciting sequences made up for an average script. If you go in with low expectations, you may be pleasantly surprised like I was. If you go in with high expectations, you will probably enjoy it too because you clearly have questionable tastes when it comes to film. I know what I don’t have a taste for. Eggs.