I’m a huge Godzilla fanatic. Even when I was a kid, I marveled at the old Toho films depicting the King of Monsters stomping through Tokyo, demolishing buildings and annihilating other Kaiju. There was just something extremely attractive about seeing a person in a lizard costume trampling around a miniature city fighting another guy in a monster suit. Even as I grew up, it was like Godzilla grew up with me. The films shed their kid-friendly stories of the Showa era and matured into the more serious Heisei series, returning the titular monster to his destructive, “villainous” roots.
Of course, I wanted to see a big-budget version (most of the Toho films were relatively cheap to produce) and I thought I got it when they promised an American version way back in 1998. Needless to say, I was very, very disappointed with that film. I figured that American producers just don’t understand why Godzilla and other giant monster movies were such a joy to watch. But, this year, they promised a “reboot” to the franchise, and, judging from the trailer, it looked like America finally got it.
So, after seeing the 2014 Godzilla release, I would have to say it’s overall a good movie that’s fun but, for the fanboy in me, it was lacking.
I wanted more Godzilla. The movie does try to capture the spirit of the Toho films wherein you only actually see the titular character after teasing the viewers after a considerable amount of time. But they didn’t let it drag it on for the length of time they did here!
Oh, you think you’re going to see a massive throwdown between Godzilla and one of the MUTOs early on but, before they do, they cut out from the fight! You do see glimpses of what would’ve been a massive and colossal battle between the two gigantic monsters during a news broadcast but it just makes you want to see it more! They do this a lot of times in the film and, the first one or two times, it’s great. But, by the third time, I started to get annoyed!
The design of the new monsters, the MUTOs are nothing spectacular, especially if you’ve been watching Godzilla movies since you were a kid. There’s just something so… generic with the look of the MUTOs. They’re okay and all but I’ve seen a lot more creative designs from the Toho Studios. I mean, take a look at monsters like King Ghidorah, Destoroyah, Megagurias and the like. They looked awesome and unique! The MUTOs are just uninspired and looks like something that could easily be mass manufactured as a toy.
Also, regarding the big guy, I didn’t like the revamped origin they gave him. The original Godzilla’s origin was he was created because of nuclear weapons, making him an allegory against nuclear weapons (nature has a way of getting back at the human race for unleashing atomic bombs). In this version, he’s all natural! He’s just a giant creature who survived the radiation-laden creation of Earth. Kinda lame but that not the thing that upset me most about this version.
Here, Godzilla is nature’s agent against other giant monsters! While this is along the lines of the light-hearted “friend to all kids” Showa version, I much rather prefer to have seen the more anti-hero role Godzilla took during the Heisei period. In fact, at the end of the film, the people in the film cheered when Godzilla got up and went back to see! The news broadcast even proclaimed him to be the “protector of Earth!” The goody-two-shoes Godzilla always left a bad taste in my mouth since it just seems so preposterous that a giant nuclear lizard who can breathe atomic fire would instinctively befriend all of mankind!
They also focused too much on the human characters, more so than the Japanese films! I didn’t really care than much for the hero and his overarching story about how he has to go home to his family. I didn’t really care for the family for the most part. And, just like most American films, the young kids are just too innocent! They look at giant tsunamis and blankly stare at the massive wave that’s going to kill them! Even the soldier’s son, who watches the news and says “Look, mom! Dinosaurs!” No kid is that dumb and naive!
Thankfully, not all of the human characters are awful. Ken Watanabe as Dr. Serizawa (a callback to the scientist that created the Oxygen Destroyer that killed Godzilla way back during his first appearance in 1954) is great and gives a lot of gravitas to the role. It’s never explained why he knows every little facet of Godzilla (seems a bit convenient, in my opinion) but at least he explains things clearly and believably.
Also, having Bryan Cranston as the engineer obsessed with finding out what happened in 1999 was great! I bet everyone was shocked to see him die just 30 minutes into the film. But I liked the direction it took since it just made the rest of the cast expendable! I mean, if award-winning actor Bryan Cranston can die, anyone can die! Still, in what little screen time he has, he pulls off an extremely powerful performance.
While I did complain that we don’t get to see much of Godzilla for most of the film, they try to make up for it at the end because the final battle is great! For the most part they do succeed as we get to see Godzilla doing what he does best! While it’s all CGI, Godzilla looks like he’s really there, destroying all other monsters! I was looking forward to see how they’d do his atomic breath and they nailed it! They made the spines on his back glow before he expels the blue flame from his mouth and it looked great!
The final fight was great but it was a little bit underwhelming. I really wanted to see a longer battle between Godzilla and the two MUTOs (especially after they teased a lot of their previous battles) and, if they just had an extra 10 more minutes of monster on monster action, it would have been perfect. I also wish they paid some homage to the original Godzilla theme song when he appeared on screen.
Overall, the new Godzilla film managed to appease my wrath Hollywood instilled in me when they released that lousy GINO (Godzilla In Name Only) film way back in 1998. While I wanted to see more of Godzilla in this movie, I still think all hardcore fans of the King of Monsters will find this version pretty entertaining. I just wished they removed 10 minutes of the human scenes (especially the solider’s story arc) and replaced it with more time showing Godzilla on the screen.
Are you a Godzilla fanatic? What did you think of the new American Godzilla film? Leave whatever you think of the film in the comments below!