A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
For arguably the most universally known series of films surrounding the world’s most recognisable monster, it is assumed, nay, expected, that the 30th instalment would be a success. 2014’s “Godzilla”, a film that has had an incredible level of hype clouding over it, has unfortunately not lived up to the expectations, but has still delivered a solid and entertaining 2 hours.
Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, “Godzilla” is a detailed and intriguing take on the traditional backstory regarding the tyrannical and destructive beast that is ever so rudely awakened by mankind, the true antagonist of the film.
Focusing on conspiracy, secrecy and re-emergence, “Godzilla” is yet another disaster-oriented film that seems to show nothing that we haven’t seen before. Having said that, it is difficult to have unique and different features in a Godzilla film given its vast and substantial filmic history. Yet the destruction of numerous cities, the two enormous beasts in combat causing all the wreckage, the onlooking army generals and computer technicians, the sub plot regarding a young couple, the hopelessness of the human race and the endless CGI is nothing we haven’t seen in films such as “Pacific Rim”, “Transformers” or even something as ridiculous as “Sharknado”.
What works incredibly well in this reboot is the tension and suspense it builds, showing glimpses of a possible threat and teasing the audience over various time periods. It conveys a rich sense of emotion and is surprisingly humorous at times as well. There aren’t many ‘brilliant’ performances to mention, except for Heisenberg of course. Bryan Cranston’s limited screen presence is upsetting, but what he is able to pack into his small contribution is astonishing. Although his contribution to the film is more or less shown in the trailer, he absolutely steals the show as far as the humans are concerned .
The beast itself is sadly overshadowed by others. Godzilla is a ‘third wheel’ in many ways to the incredibly distracting and off-putting M.U.T.O’s (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) who are the primary focus of the film, mid way through at least. Set in various locations including Hawaii, California and Japan, the M.U.TO call is heard by scientists and earthquake specialists who soon learn that the M.U.T.O has an agenda and it must be fulfilled no matter what. These creatures are dissatisfying and frustrating in many ways as they deny Godzilla to reach his full potential in the film. That being said, Godzilla does dominate on several occasions and is by far the highlight of the film overall (luckily).
Given the age that we live in, there is an obvious recipe for any recent blockbuster that graces our screens. It must be disaster based, it must have a similar trailer to the others, it more often than not must be a reboot, it must include foreign foes, the city must perish, it must be darkly themed, it must be set on a colossal scale and it has to pay homage to past instalments. The Godzilla of 2014 is the biggest we’ve ever seen, and what is so pleasing about him is that he looks identical to the original monster of 1954. Unlike the overgrown, bulky jawed Tyrannosaurus-Rex that was 1998’s Godzilla, 2014’s version is a throwback to the past, showing the definitive form the monstrous creature. The modernised Godzilla is animalistic in its actions and characteristics, but at the same time it is slightly humanised in some ways. The enormity of him is definitely exhibited and his presence is made more than known, yet it feels like we needed to see much more of him.
With all the criticism regarding the film’s focus on the chaos and spectacle of it all, it must be said that the messages and statements regarding mankind are incredibly powerful. The arrogance, hubris and naivety of man is explored thoroughly and made known to the audience; this doesn’t paint the human race in a very positive light. With a handful of respectable individuals that can be excused, the film begins to make the audience cheer for Godzilla to destroy and annihilate as much as possible, just to teach the human race a lesson.
Ultimately Godzilla failed to deliver the faultless, gargantuan powerhouse epic that the trailers made it out to be, but there was definitely a lot to take from Gareth Edwards’ contemporary take on a timeless tale. Bold statements, stunningly breathtaking CGI and an incredible grandeur to it all made it an enjoyable experience. There are a few heavy cliche moments throughout, but that is expected, particularly for the type of film that it is. Heisenberg and Kick-Ass pitted against gargantuan, malevolent terrestrials is always a selling point, it just needed a little bit more overall.