Godzilla (2014) Review:

Unlike the title suggests, this is not a Godzilla film.

The best thing about the film is the promotional materials.
The best thing about the film is the promotional materials.

Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, et al…

Director: Gareth Edwards

Runtime: 123 minutes

Plot (taken from IMDb): The world’s most famous monster is pitted against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence.

Godzilla is the worst film I have seen in the cinema since Epic Movie, and unlike that film Godzilla does not know what it is doing. Now, before you say “but it got good reviews?” I would like to add that I don’t think anyone actually enjoyed the movie.

First things first, everything about Godzilla is false advertising, we are lead to believe that what we will watch is a Godzilla film, you know, a film about Godzilla. What’s worse is that we are also told that the film is a good Godzilla film – this, my friends, is arse. What we have is a film about two “Mutos” that nobody could give a crap about, a film where Godzilla himself turns up begrudgingly to fill out a pre-existing contract.

I couldn't find an image of the Muto, so here's a drawing of the thing you will not care about.
I couldn’t find an image of the Muto, so here’s a drawing of the thing you will not care about.

I’ve heard the arguments for “less is more”, and for the large part, I can agree with them. This film is different; there isn’t less Godzilla than I thought there would be, Godzilla only exists as a marketing gimmick and I felt this throughout, convincing myself to enjoy what I was watching – and I never did.

There are a couple of moments where Godzilla shows some potential: one scene where Godzilla smashes a bridge, which is less boring than the rest of the film and one shot of him breathing fire, but it still does not feel like a Godzilla film.

Godzilla is full of issues beyond the fact that it is not a Godzilla film. First off, it tries to be like the original 1950s film, choosing to lay its focus on the human side of things; good intentions, but like Flanders so greatly put it: “You can’t build a house with good intentions”. The human side of the film (the majority) is bad, we are given characters that simply could not care less about what’s going on around them (beyond Bryan Cranston’s Joe Brody in the first 20 minutes of the piece); seriously, no one looks scared or seems to care that the city they live in is being smashed to pieces.

It's everyone's favourite actor! oh, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson...
It’s everyone’s favourite actor! oh, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson…

Following on from the lack of care are the reveals. I know it is cinematic practice to show the audience something big and awe-inspiring or scary at the same time as the characters (as expertly crafted in Jurassic Park), but all too often in Godzilla the things people are looking for on film are huge and it just does not make sense that they cannot see something until we do – seriously, who wouldn’t notice that a huge chunk of a government building disappears? Ugh. To make matters worse, every single time a shot like this happens a helicopter happens to be just getting to the thing they are looking for or it’s already there. It is bad filmmaking, took me right out of the film every time (more than twice).

Beyond these more technical issues comes a stinking whopper in storytelling. Everyone in the film is an idiot, particularly those in the military – the film is literally, boring-ass military commander tries something; it doesn’t work, then tries something equally as stupid until the end of the film when they finally seem to understand what the audience has understood throughout the whole film. All the while Ken Watanabe walks around looking miserable – he knows he is in a bad movie.

More on the acting, beyond Bryan Cranston at the start of the movie no one can act, sure it’s simple enough to look scared, shocked and worried? Apparently not. Aaron Taylor-Johnson goes through the film without any emotion, seemingly reading an autocue in monotone, Elizabeth Olsen is dull, Watanabe clearly does not want to be there and Sally Hawkins is kind of just there.

The real issue with the film is Gareth Edwards. He cannot direct tension, action or anything really. And here is the issue with Hollywood filmmaking, because he made the film under budget, and it performed well at the box office and critically, he will keep making films, and no one will tell him that he’s doing it wrong. Maybe I’m being too harsh on the young director, but in a film that is meant to be exciting and tense, you do not want to be sat there bored – it fails. You don’t even care about any of the characters, and one or two more find themselves in it towards the end. In fact, it would’ve been a better film if they were all killed – at least it would’ve ended earlier.

Godzilla is too long, but I don’t think it would have been any better if it were shorter, I don’t like that this film exists, and I really don’t like that I was swept up in the hype. At least the special effects were decent. Indeed, Godzilla is a good-looking film with great effects and sets that are ruined by the rest of the film.

Summary:

It is not a Godzilla film, it is not a film about Godzilla despite the two scenes of potential, it’s too long, boring, and dull, none of the characters care, the plot is stupid and so is everyone in the film. I really do not understand how Gareth Edwards got it so wrong – when I watch a film with Godzilla in the name (let alone the name) I expect Godzilla.

My new benchmark for bad films, the only redeeming factors are the effects and Cranston.

20/100

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