Sunday, July 6, 2014

Godzilla 2014 Review and Grade

Right off the bat, let me define my Godzilla fandom for you. I love Godzilla. Of all the movies, there are maybe 5 that I have not seen. But, I will see them soon enough, rest assured. Godzilla rules. He rocks. He's the Undisputed KING OF MONSTERS!!! He even beat King Kong.

I am a purist, meaning that I like nothing more than the Japanese Toho Godzilla films that feature a guy in a costume, destroying the city sets, so using those great films as my measuring stick, I will let you know what I thought of this second attempt of Hollywood trying to make a Godzilla movie. (Third, if you count Cloverfield, which sucked.)

In 1998, the first American remake was released, starring Matthew Broderick as an earthworm scientist that got recruited into researching this overgrown iguana that started out in the Pacific, yet somehow winds up in New York City. It was bad. I saw that movie in the theater, not knowing what to expect. I was already bummed because I had seen the previews, and I knew what it looked like (which was NOTHING like Godzilla.) Well, the movie sucked. However, it was better than Cloverfield, which came a decade later. Actually, that movie wouldn't have been that bad if it had been called something else. But, it was called Godzilla, so I hate it. That movie was such a bust that Toho answered with Godzilla 2000, which turned out to be one of the franchise's best films. In 2004, Toho released Godzilla: Final Wars which pitted the real Godzilla against the 1998 American version, nicknamed Zilla. The fight lasted 11 seconds, and Zilla was extremely easily vanquished.

Zilla vs Godzilla
Godzilla in Final Wars
Godzilla 2014
So, now in 2014, Hollywood tries its hand at a Godzilla movie once again. My first reaction was a groan and a facepalm because I didn't want another clunker like the 1998 clunker. But, as I read up on it, I became cautiously optimistic about it. I heard that Godzilla was going to be fighting other monsters, and that he would look like the classic monster. So, I waited, avoiding spoilers and reviews. The timing seemed right. I had been blown away by Pacific Rim, which was an awesome and fun monster movie. I was hoping that we would see more like that with Godzilla. I then started to get worried because I read a report where someone working on the film said that this movie wouldn't be a Pacific Rim ripoff. I obviously didn't want to see a ripoff, but I wanted a movie that looked as good. Then, I saw a still from the movie showing what this Godzilla looks like. I was kind of let down. It looked more like Godzilla than Zilla, but still looked nothing like the King of Monsters. Still, I had hope.

What do you mean I'm not in the
whole damn movie???
So, I finally watched the movie. I am sure that many other reviewers are pissed about the fact that while we were led to get excited about Bryan Cranston being in the movie, he was only there for a very short time.  That was a disappointment, but that's all I'm going to say about that. You don't really get to see Godzilla in a good shot more than once. And, every time they showed a monster fight, they cut away, and showed you more dialogue from the main cast that did not contain Bryan Cranston. You never really get to see a monster fight at all. You can hear it, but you can't see it. The times that you should be seeing Godzilla, you get the poorly written characters who you care nothing about. Sadly, that makes me feel like they did not have the capability to really show you the monster.

The Mutos, (the monsters that Godzilla fights) look like they are CGI that wasn't even completed, as you can see in the pic below. The whole film is like that. Most of the action takes place at night which seems to lend credibility to my theory of them not being able to really present the monsters. However, in the Toho films, you can see every detail in the night action. You can also see the detail in Pacific Rim's night scenes, and that was some damn good looking CGI.

This dog is tied to the tree as the tsunami approaches
however, we see it 2 seconds later running away.

Other points in the film that were head scratchers were when Godzilla came ashore on Hawaii. He caused a tsunami, where the water got sucked out, followed by a tsunami like the footage we saw in Indonesia. That wouldn't have happened. If anything, he would have pushed water onshore as he arrived, but not enough to cause a huge tsunami. Besides, as he got into shallow water, there would have been less of him underwater to push, and even if it did force lots of water onto land, it would have been isolated to the specific area Godzilla was in, and not the whole coast. But, once again, this footage was at night. 

This is what the monsters look
like for the majority of the movie.
Basically, the storyline is weak, with lots of contradictions. The 2 best actors in the film are majorly under utilized. The monster sequences are so dark you can barely see them, and when you can see them, its very briefly. There is one scene where its broad daylight, and you can clearly see Godzilla and the Muto. As soon as they begin to fight, the scene changes to the people, and never goes back to a good looking and clear battle scene. The Mutos have double the screen time that Godzilla does, and the Golden Gate Bridge scene in Monsters vs Aliens looks much better than the one in this movie. But after saying all that, the one thing that irked me the most was after San Francisco and Oakland had been destroyed, and nothing worked due to the EMP pulses which the Mutos had emitted. Most of the survivors had made their way to the Oakland Coliseum, which was undamaged. But, while nothing else worked, the stadium's jumbotron worked just fine, with crystal clear clarity, reporting the news footage from news crews whose cameras and transmitter towers somehow also worked despite the EMP pulses. They were broadcasting live footage of Godzilla returning to the water. (with no tsunami this time.)

Show me with this clarity in the next movie
or I will go to the Pacific Rim sequel
Despite all the negative things I had to say about it, it was better than the 1998 Zilla movie, and Cloverfield. It was NOT better than Pacific Rim, however it was better than a few of the Toho Godzilla films, like Godzilla's Revenge, and Godzilla vs The Smog Monster. That being said, America is 0-2 on Godzilla movies. I think maybe the US should leave Godzilla films to the Japanese pros at Toho. I hope they answer with another classic that features the real Godzilla vanquishing this version in much the same way he vanquished Zilla.

So, final grade: C-. Could have been much better. But, there is going to be a sequel. Since they aren't going to take my advice and not make anymore Godzilla movies, hopefully, they learn from the mistakes in this one.

                            I have to admit, here is a great American remake of Godzilla. Check it out:

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