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Godzilla (Flack’s Review)

Posted on | May 28, 2014 | Add Comments

Godzilla isn't happy in this 2014 rebootGodzilla 2 1/2 Stars

The biggest surprise in Godzilla isn’t a twist or unpredictable character death. Instead, it’s a lack of fun. And isn’t fun all you could ask for from a summer blockbuster?

After flashbacks to 1954 and 1999, the film jumps to the present day. Following a visit to his wife and son, bomb disposal Navy officer Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) travels to Japan to bail out his father, Joe (Bryan Cranston), recently jailed for trespassing. Cue the “there’s something out there” monologue from Joe, who feels the government’s earthquake tests are really trying to stop something greater. Of course, Ford ignores his father’s warnings and Godzilla and two new beasts are soon stomping all over the world. While Ford regroups with the Navy to save everyone, a pair of scientists try to stop a no-nonsense admiral (David Strathrain) from dropping a city-destroying bomb on Godzilla. The scientists predict Godzilla will save us all, but can the government risk the fate of mankind using a unprecedented scientific theory?

Joe (Bryan Cranston) and Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) are worried...very, very worried in Godzilla (2014)

From Max Borenstein’s formulaic script to the emotionless performances, Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla is as conventional as you might expect. The film’s fatal flaw, however, is the ultra serious tone. With a wit-less plot and constant dread, Edwards makes everything feel as serious as if this was really happening (not all action movies have to be so dark and brooding). Amidst all the docudrama-levels of horror, it would’ve been nice to have at least one joke about scaly reptiles taking over the world.

Edwards manages to waste an all-star cast (also including Sally Hawkins, Ken Watanabe, and Elizabeth Olsen) on cliched roles. And it shows; none of the actors seem to be having fun, even though they’re starring in Godzilla.

Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) leads a bomb disposal team in Godzilla (2014)Cheesy dialogue, a disappointing ending, overlong build-up…the problems are many. Yet, occasionally this is a fascinating beast. Early on, there’s some plot twists that truly catch you by surprise. Meanwhile, Edwards and Borenstein’s messages about nature manage to pose some interesting, important questions about mankind’s ignorance towards the environment. In the technical departments, Seamus McGarvey’s cinematography is often brilliant, like the gorgeous tracking shots during the film’s climax. And there’s a truly exhilarating action scene near the beginning that’s one of the most nail-biting in recent memory.

Godzilla wreaks havoc on the Golden gate ridge in Godzilla (2014)

And then there’s the monster fights, which are actually fun. Every so often, the film indulges in the kind of head-to-head kaju (Japanese for monster) fights Guilermo del Toro dreams about. When Godzilla finally breathes blueish lightning down a predator’s throat, you’re reminded of why you came to this movie, and of the kind of uproarious summer adventure Godzilla could’ve been.

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