Do you get the feeling this Godzilla movie is a big fat apology for the last Godzilla movie that was released back in 1998? That’s why this Godzilla looks like Godzilla and sounds like Godzilla and destroys stuff like Godzilla this time around. However, while the movie has that going for it, Godzilla needs some help with the human characters.
Bryan Cranston stars Joe Brody – an engineer working at a Japanese nuclear power plant in 1999, when a massive calamity occurs (and we are talking about something much worse than Y2K or your movie bombing at the box office). Years later, Joe’s son, Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), has grown up to be a soldier in the US Army, while Dad has remained in Japan desperately trying to get the truth about that horrible day 15 years ago.
Of course, Joe has started to recognize many of the same patterns that emerged before the disaster in 1999, and the people who know the truth are a little curious what this allegedly heartbroken mad man might be able to provide to help them counter the unthinkable, unimaginable, incomprehensible horror they are about to face (and you paid at least 12 bucks or so to see).
Godzilla is a big action movie with some solid special effects, lots of stuff blowing up and plenty of cool creatures that make this a classic monster movie, but it needs more Bryan Cranston and more humanity.
While the character of Joe is in the picture, writer Max Borenstein and director Gareth Edwards attempt to give Godzilla some depth. Joe is a skilled engineer and they use this to create mystery and anticipation about what we all know is coming next from the depths of the ocean when the tremors and shaking starts. It’s a little more cerebral and hints at a grand conspiracy that might not be all that surprising, but it makes the movie more complex.
However, once Godzilla and his fellow nasty monsters are on the scene, the movie shifts focus into pure action mode, without any valid attempt to build upon the emotion that should be here and Borenstein and Edwards turn the lead over to Taylor-Johnson, who lacks all of the dynamism and command the hero in a big action movie needs. He doesn’t have to be the second coming of John Wayne, but his character, Ford, is a soldier who disarms explosives. He should be a little more impressive and less whiny. Otherwise, why not let Cranston be our lead, since he is fantastic as the man who is on edge and haunted by the disaster of that fateful day?
Then, let’s get more focus on the big fights Godzilla engages in. We get glimpses of these massive battles that are destroying major cities across the globe, but only focus on a few key moments or highlights. It’s like baking a cake and only letting me smell it.
We could have used bigger roles for co-stars Sally Hawkins and Ken Watanabe, who play a pair of people tracking Godzilla, and how about we give Elizabeth Olsen a little more to do as Ford’s wife, who is relegated to a few scenes of looking scared or crying over the lack of hope in their situation. All three are much more talented than this, and could have done so much more.
Godzilla starts strong, but fades as the movie plods towards the end.
Godzilla is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence.