Godzilla – USA, 2014

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Godzilla is 2014 American science fiction monster film based on the Japanese movie monster of the same name and is a reboot of the Godzilla film franchise. It is to be the second Godzilla film to be fully filmed by an American studio, after the poorly-received 1998 Godzilla. The film is directed by Gareth Edwards and stars Aaron Taylor-JohnsonElizabeth OlsenBryan CranstonJuliette BinocheDavid StrathairnRichard T. Jones and Ken Watanabe.

Reviews:

Despite this being a mega-hyped summer blockbuster, Muswell Hill Odeon was virtually empty for this afternoon’s showing. No matter because the two curiously-shaped villain beasties and the real star of the show filled the auditorium with their arduous and very audible battles. Sure, it takes a while to build the back story and lead actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson is somewhat vapid (where’s Broderick Crawford when you need a character actor?) but the overall portentous spectacle is certainly something to behold. Edwards really makes the viewer feel part of the action by often placed the actors amidst monsters in shots that feel documentary in style, whilst the use of loudness and sudden quietness for dramatic effect works really well. Kudos too for the sheer scale of the apocalyptic nature of the destruction that unfolds.

On the downside, Godzilla still looks somewhat stumpy, Ken Watanabe seems too worried throughout and the military are seemingly given greater decision-making roles than unseen politicians (there’s just a phone call from the President). Plus, my nine year-old son came away saying he preferred the Japanese Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. and Godzilla: Final Wars, which we watched just recently. That’s perhaps the most damning verdict as surely he and his pals are the target audience?

Adrian J Smith, Horrorpedia

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” … the director and screenwriter Max Borenstein make Godzilla relevant in a way that hasn’t been seen since the original 1954 Gojira, while stopping short of loading the film down with political subtext. Edward isn’t out to make a statement, but to use this iconography to engage and enthrall the audience in ways that probably wouldn’t even occur to some of the other modern makers of big special-FX vehicles, who seem content to simply bludgeon the viewer into submission.” Michael Gingold, Fangoria

“Superbly made but burdened by some dull human characters enacted by an interesting international cast who can’t do much with them, this new ‘Godzilla’ is smart, self-aware, eye-popping and arguably in need of a double shot of cheeky wit.” Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

“Warner Bros. and Legendary accepted a daunting task, in that they needed to please not only fans of the cinematic character of Godzilla, but also a demographic perhaps unaware of his iconic place in cinema and, for a summer tent-pole, youthful audiences as well. This was a lot to juggle, and while without question there will always be those that would have wanted it ‘darker’ or ‘man in a suit’ or (insert whatever here), Edwards’ realization of filmdom’s most iconic monster is as spot-on as we’ve ever seen.” Sean Decker, Dread Central

“It’s him, all right, and the cosmetic facelift on Godzilla — done via CGI that nods to the old foam-rubber “suitmation” — is honorable. The reptilian wrecker’s screech-roar still resonates, too, but as in the 1960s, he has no beef with humanity. He should: He ends up a supporting player in his own, underwhelming movie.” Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News

“The action, while tense and vivid, lacks the casual malice of the Transformers series, and there are moments to make fans of the Fifties and Sixties-vintage films chirp for joy. As for the film’s star, the future now seems hopeful enough: emboldened by the success of this one-off comeback gig, might Godzilla now ring up Gamera and Mothra, reminisce about the good times, maybe suggest meeting up for a jamming session – knock over a skyscraper or two, see if the magic’s still there? After two exhilarating hours of this, you hope so. Godzilla: the Credible Franchise restarts here.” Robbie Collin, The Telegraph

“It’s doubtful many set pieces this summer will top Godzilla‘s third act. When we finally hear Godzilla roar and feel his awesome presence, it’s a billboard for seeing movies in theaters. What Edwards and all involved have accomplished on a technical level is, at times, truly remarkable and makes the movie worth seeing. It’s just a shame the rest of the film isn’t as impressive. C+ Jack Giroux, Film School Rejects

“Edwards seems to have miscalculated our investment in his cast […] simultaneously underestimating how satisfying some good old-fashioned monster-on-MUTO action can be.” Variety

“As well as draining the film of any true suspense, the dramatic premise of Godzilla is delivered entirely po-faced. There’s some kind of subtext about the abuse of nuclear power, perhaps an environmentalist thread too. It’s all a bit muddled. But whatever the message is, it’s delivered at the expense of humour … Predictable and two-dimensional, Godzilla is still not without moments of beauty. Alexandre Desplat’s score is restrained and evocative with hints of kaiji movies past.” Paul MacIinnes, The Guardian

” … a triumph of style over substance. It has wonderful visuals and some terrific beats, yet has little-to-no story with woefully thin and passive characters. When the film is showing off its monster mayhem and destruction, it’s a corker. But it really doesn’t tell a story and abandons pretty much all human interaction once the monsters shows up.” Scott Mendelson, Forbes

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“We have an iconic monster, but what’s he to do? And: How can we get audiences to care about the humans fleeing from him? The final film doesn’t answer those questions, doesn’t fill the two-hour running time. It’s a concept lacking a magnetic story, a package without a product.” Time

“Their movie may be highly calculated, but at least it doesn’t feel soulless; as in Spielberg’s blockbusters, the sets (decorated by Elizabeth Wilcox) are filled with quirky bric-a-brac, bringing a lived-in dimension to the big-budget spectacle, and Edwards displays a welcome playfulness in some of his flamboyant camera movements. Alexandre Desplat’s score is an enjoyable pastiche in itself, drawing from John Williams, Bernard Herrmann, and Akira Ifukube’s theme from the Japanese original.” Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader

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3 Comments on “Godzilla – USA, 2014”

  1. I will only say this when it comes to the some of the controversy surrounding this film in terms of how it measures up to the old classics. Having grown up on this stuff as a kid this film actually has become my alltime favorites (still waiting on the 2 sequels to follow this) because finally someone was able to put a well thought out story to go with the monsters. Campiness is great but at age 45 i need a bit more substance with my movie going and the story here works for me. An intelligent Godzilla film? Say it aint so Joe!

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