Ever since I had seen the teaser trailer for Godzilla a few months ago, I couldn't wait to see what the studios had come up with this time around. The last 'Murrican attempt at a Godzilla flick was, let's face it, incredibly embarrassing.
Studio execs couldn't figure out why making it look like a giant
iguana on roids and turning it into a girl was a bad move???
This round, they moved more carefully and the film is a VAST improvement over the last one, but I'm sorry to say I think that they still missed the mark.
But first! Let's discuss el plot:
The movie kicks off with Walter Whi--I mean Joe Brody (Brian Cranston) and his wife (played by the ever-fabulous Juliette Binoche) getting mysterious readings of seismic activity. They both work at a nuclear plant and are therefore concerned that the activity might affect the facility. Before you know what's going on, the factory has blown up and Sandra Brody is dead, along with a ton of other people. Flash forward 15 years and their son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), who is now a military lieutenant or something, has just come home to the US to his wife and little boy, but receives a call from Japan asking him to come get his father, who has just trespassed onto the site of the old power plant.* While over there, one thing leads to another, and they discover that scientists are monitoring a creature that they discovered there. (Obviously the one that is going to eventually fight Godzilla.) Mayhem ensues as the creature hatches, and then hops from Japan to Hawaii to California searching for more radioactive material to eat (a.k.a. nukes) as the U.S. tries to think of ways to kill it.
I should also mention that the plot is woven with details about Godzilla. The scientists have been tracking him for decades and trying to kill him but--get this--nothing works. That's why they call him Godzilla or something.
SO. LOTS HAPPENING.
Which may be part of the problem that I have with this newbie...
Unfortunately the plot trips along, adding more and more gratuitous layers to a story that could've been pretty simple if it were not for the stupid Hollywood formula getting in its way. For example, if Ford Brody didn't have a wife and son tuggin' on the audience's heartstrings, making them think of his own tragic past, it would be a much more straightforward action movie. These elements, which are supposed to add heartfelt drama, really just end up weighing the movie down with gratuitous feels, and throw character development to the side.
Look, a woman with a child! Now you're personally invested right!?!
Additionally, I find it really cool that they were acknowledging the creature's country of origin, but the transition of the plot moving from Japan to Hawaii to California becomes clumsy. It would be one thing if these monsters were just moving themselves and our main character guy was tracking them, but the fact that he's just trying to get home to his family (but is he really trying though?) and keeps on bumping into them seems a little...forced.
SPOILERS BELOW--YE BE WARNED.
I guess the main problem that I had with it is that it seemed to feel like every ten seconds there was another "BUT WAIT--LOOK OVER HERE--THERE'S MORE!" to take into account.
Oh, we found some crazy alien radioactivity-eating monster.
Also, look at all these people that are dead now.
Parenthetically, we've been tracking this other monster, Godzilla, for years.
Also, we're going to get you home, Lt. Ford Brody.
But also, the monster might be there when you get to Hawaii.
Also there's another monster.
Now here's the military working on something.
Also, here's your wife, freaking out about finding you.
And here's you not freaking out about your family at all.
Also, here's that Japanese scientist looking like he's realized something horirble for the 1,634,646,376th time.
Omg, I just realized a horrible thing. Again.
The one COOL THING that you've been WAITING FOR FOR THE ENTIRE MOVIE is for these creatures to have a craaaAAAAaaaazzy faceoff, and the only time it happens is...AT THE FREAKIN' END. They also give way less screentime to Godzilla in favor of explaining his new nemeses: the Mutos, which I found to be a bit of a bummer. We revamp this guy's image and turn back him into a boy and he only gets about a third of the screen time that the Mutos do. No respect.
OK, KIDS, IT'S SAFE NOW.
So. In conclusion. Is Godzilla a good movie? Yes. The effects and the monsters alone make this worth watching. But if the movie hadn't gotten so caught up in trumping the previous failure of a flick, it could've been SO MUCH BETTER. Movies like this are for entertainment value, so I would've loved to have seen more creature fights and less half-assed drama.
6.5 outa 10. Probably could've been more, but I was so hyped up for this one and I feel seriously disappointed.
*Side note: I kid you not, he is home for a day before he gets a call from JAPAN being like "Hey we found your dad trespassing in the quarantine zone so uh...you're gonna need to come pick him up." So he's all "Crap. Okay, lemme hop a flight to Japan real quick," and then takes off for the land of Asia. I probably could've left that part out but I couldn't get over that he had been home from his 14 month deployment for like 8 hours before having to ship back out again to Japan because his dad couldn't be bailed out by ANYONE ELSE? Dafuq.