Thursday, 22 May 2014

Film Review: Godzilla (2014)


So I saw Godzilla last night and I really, really liked it! It was suspenseful, intense, exciting and thrilling.

Here's a bit of background for those who don't already know about this new film.. Obviously a reboot from the Godzilla film franchise, it is directed by Gareth Edwards and stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen and Bryan Cranston. One of the most famous monsters in the world battles against malevolent creatures that thrive on humanity's scientific mistakes (without giving too much away!) while as usual, threatening the very existence of the human race.

Straight away the movie opens with an amazing yet complicated prologue which sets up what is going to be at the centre of the movie with the underlying story of an emotional father and son relationship. A nuclear physicist Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) tragically loses his wife in the events of 1999 where a mysterious disaster struck at the nuclear plant he worked at in Japan. The film quickly shifts 15 years on where Joe is now alienated by his grown up son, Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) who is a father, husband and an Explosive Ordnance Disposal expert living in San Francisco.

It's a predictable storyline that his father is obsessed and haunted with what happened in Japan, demanding that the tragedy was not a natural disaster but something much more. Ford flies to Japan to help him and is confronted with his past while dealing with his obsessive, disturbed father. Eventually, Cranston's character convinces his son to enter the irradiated forbidden zone to find out the truth and a discovery shows that Joe Brody was right all along with some fantastic visual effects for the first monster of the film. Cranston's acting is superb, touching and poignant all the way through the beginning of the film but when tragedy strikes again, the POV is shifted to Aaron Taylor-Johnson's character. 

The film holds back the revealing of Godzilla until nearly an hour in after almost half of the film being full of teases of the fight with his new monstrous enemy, a giant insect parasite called MUTO (which I thought looked rather silly and not very monster-like.. it actually reminded me of the Cloverfield monster). But when it does actually come to seeing Godzilla in full length for the first time, it is indeed terrifying yet exciting when he releases that trademark roar directly to the camera almost making the audience's seats tremble.. a brilliant move by Gareth Edwards.

The music was incredible and helped bring the ominous, tense atmosphere and Godzilla's entrance to life. Film composer, Alexandre Desplat, having worked previously on The King's Speech, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and the final two Harry Potter films, had never worked on a monster film before. Impressed by a previous film by Edwards, Desplat stepped up to the mark and really brought Godzilla to life. He describes the soundtrack as "non-stop fortissimo, with lots of brass, Japanese drums, and electric violin." and I will just say, it works very well!

The few criticisms I do have are things that can be brushed aside as the film is really about the well known monster himself but if you were really paying attention to the storyline as I was, you may well possibly feel like I do. When Bryan Cranston's POV is shifted to Aaron Taylor-Johnson's, this where I felt the plot started to sag a little. I didn't believe in the character Ford Brody at all.. Aaron's acting was quite wooden, boring and didn't quite capture your attention. His tale was the usual, cliched storyline.. fighting his own personal battle to get back to his family while apparently being the only person who can save the world from destruction from three monsters. It just didn't work for me this time in such a massive film. After all, it was the same generic type of story that I've seen 30 films before. It was overshadowed very easily and just seemed to help move the film along until Godzilla entered.
Not only that, I would've liked to have seen Godzilla alot earlier in the movie as there was alot of talking and focus on the MUTO rather than its titular monster. Also there was not really a clear explanation, I felt, how Godzilla originated and although there are some attempts in the film as to how he came about to save civilization from these two monsters I still left the theatre confused as to why they would keep him such a secret all these years and how he never damaged anything in the all years before the MUTO came along. However the special effects and creature design were fantastic and brought it back to its original appearance (although the Japanese think he's too fat to be Godzilla in this film!). When it came down to some good old monster fighting, Edwards didn't fail to deliver. You are sitting, holding breath as you see Godzilla try to fight his enemies while buildings crash down around them.. perfect for those action film lovers like myself.

Also, I don't know if this is me being a feminist or just bored with the usual main character being a guy.. there was such a lack of girl power! I mean, come on, as usual they put the main character as the typical white, 20-30 something year old man with his wife as being a screaming, hysterical mother who runs round doing nothing really. But I have to give some credit to Elizabeth Olsen though because in some of her scenes, she displayed some great acting and played a realistic part of a woman, a mother, a wife trying to keep it together for the sake of her family as well as for herself.

There has already been rumours of a sequel as Godzilla fans will know that there are a number of monsters that Godzilla fights but no confirmation of this has been found yet. Aaron Taylor-Johnson has already said he would love to be in another Godzilla film.. however I don't think I will be as excited to see him in another unless they give him a more dramatic, different storyline. Also I demand more women in the next one!

The film has already been a huge success, passing $100 million and is currently the number 1 film in the world. Will X-Men: Days of Future Past overthrow it? I will review that soon also! 

Thankyou for reading.


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