Written by: Max Borenstein
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins
Throughout the years, the Godzilla creature has been brought to screen in different forms but its origins remain clear. An allegory for the nuclear bomb that struck Japan at the hands of the United States of America. Coming as a threat specifically to the Japanese people, it has proven as a strong way to process the events of World War II but bringing this story over to the United States not only cheapens the original intention of the story as proven time and time again. Additionally, this film also fails to provide any captivating humans to entertain the audience before the long-awaited arrival of the monster.
Grieving from the loss of his wife and blaming the governing bodies for covering up what led to her death, Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) reunites with his son, Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) to get to the bottom of what’s being hidden. They learn about an organization tracking monsters and the danger they pose to humanity as some begin to awake.
Whenever heading to a movie about Godzilla, the main attraction will always be the monster and the epic brawls it will engage in. Humans stand absolutely no chance in battle even though the futile attempts do serve their purpose in showing the vastness of the monster compared to us lowly people. The main event always comes in the form of what other monster Godzilla takes on. Everything before this eventuality only serves as filler and the quality of said filler truly dictates the overall success of the feature, which this film truly struggles with. It commonly occurs with these American versions of the monster where the human element is such a dud and when the monster appears, we just wish it would fixate more on what everyone came to see. The reason this film struggles and receives much derision comes from how much it delays the introduction of the monster and the lack of quality leading up to it.
Perspectives shift in this film between the Brody family and through this scope, the emotional connectedness should exist, but the bland nature of the writing lets down the actors involved. Everything happening with Joe, in the beginning, demonstrates emotionally effective work in establishing the man’s character and the pain he has needed to endure in order to protect humanity. However, after the opening scene, the rest of the film really falters in further engaging with this man’s journey, and especially his son. It caused such a drag to finally get to the appearance of the much-talked about character and when we’re meant to follow Ford for much of the story, I almost felt the need to fast forward.
However, when the monster arrives everything this film promises to deliver through its marketing comes forward in the most glorious of ways. Something this film ensures to capture is putting us at the perspective of the people on the ground when looking at Godzilla. When doing aerial shots the monster looks big but relative to the screen, not too large. When looking up at it from a human perspective this film shines in showing the sheer vastness of this monster in the most terrifying of ways. A monster where one step could cause a tsunami and a swing of its arm could collapse skyscrapers. Visually capturing this monster becomes integral and everything else around it further added in building the mystique of this monster’s presence with the cinematography providing a strong background for this digitally created monster to look as real as possible. The monster’s appearance strikes the fear of everything culminating for and vastly serves as a major threat at the end of some true unnecessary human dreck.
Even with the greatness brought forward by the monster’s presence, Godzilla fails to overcome the sheer mediocrity of the first two-thirds of the film. I understand the purpose of having humans to follow as it grounds the story but when it takes up so much of the narrative runtime and brings nothing very engaging in the process, it makes the wait for the appearance of the monster that much longer. It would be rude to say one can just skip forward to the appearance of the monster and skip everything else so I will not advise people to do that out of respect for the filmmakers involved, but it also would probably make for a better viewing experience. At least you’ll end up caring for the human characters as much as I did, which was nothing.