Newest film version of Godzilla crashes into theaters

by Jim DiFrancesco
The king of all monsters is back in another major attempt to bring the Japanese classic to American theaters. Godzilla, directed by Gareth Edwards, is the 30th version of the film.
Godzilla shares the screen with Ken Watanabe, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, and Sally Hawkins. Although Cranston is featured in many of the trailers for the film, his role is actually quite minor. Instead, Taylor-Johnson, who plays Cranston’s son, has the main role. However, Taylor-Johnson’s acting is nothing special, and he is outshined by the monsters on screen.
This is the biggest problem with Godzilla: the monsters are far more interesting and more impressive than the humans, yet the humans receive much more screen time.
The key to this movie is escalation, starting out with a painfully slow exposition, and then ending with an exciting climax. There are monsters featured in the opening third of the movie, but they do nothing of real interest.
Instead, any action is driven by humans in harm’s way in an attempt to make the audience care about what’s happening.
The action picks up in the last 45 minutes of the film when all three monsters descend on the city of San Francisco.
The worst sin of Godzilla, however, is that the film tries to tease the audience too often and instead of building suspense, it fails miserably.
There are two separate scenes that feature   Godzilla geared up and ready to fight other monsters, creating noticeable tension and excitement in the audience at a recent showing.
However, the movie decides to cut away, and after the second scene in which this happens, several audience members actually began laughing, killing all of the strenuously developed tension and suspense.
“I definitely felt the movie could have benefited from another fight; it felt kind of boring without it,” said junior John Sheehy.
Despite the immediate disappointment, this tactic ultimately works to the movie’s advantage, teasing the audience with small conflicts before delivering a huge, final battle royale. The audience eventually gets an excellent final battle, but it is the only one.
Godzilla is not the only monster in the film. He is accompanied by two other giant, nameless creatures that are well animated and have incredibly dramatic reveals.
There are fantastic shots of a giant winged monster diving into water, and others of Godzilla marching through the street illuminated only by flares. The lighting in general is excellent, with flares, flashlights and night-vision goggles making the monsters look more intimidating.
“The monsters look really well done,” said sophomore Dominic Gannon. “Godzilla looks more like a Godzilla monster instead of a boring dinosaur like in the last movie.”
The other main selling point of Godzilla, besides the monsters, is the cutting-edge military action, highlighted by an epic trailer involving soldiers jumping out of an airplane with flares attached to their ankles. This scene’s action is executed to near perfection in the movie, though the rest of the military scenes are hit or miss.
The human characters in the film are believably portrayed, with Taylor-Johnson having some bad scenes, while Watanabe delivers one of the better performances in this movie.
This Godzilla trumps the 1998 version of the same name by Roland Emmerich.
The most recent adaptation certainly shows how far the series has come, from originally being a man thrashing in a rubber suit, to eventually becoming a huge CGI animation.
“Modern filmmakers have resources that filmmakers did not have access to back then,” said sophomore Tinnapat Triamarit.
Even with the technology for special effects available today, this version does not differ significantly in its depiction of the monsters from earlier versions.
According to A. O. Scott of The New York Times, “…this Godzilla, though it surpasses Roland Emmerich’s 1998 Hollywood version, remains safely within the bounds of the modern action movie spectacular.”
Overall, Godzilla is a decent movie. Though the storyline is not very deep, there are strong effects and lighting, and enjoyable action.
However, the failure to deliver more than one entertaining monster fight keeps Godzilla from being a thoroughly enjoyable, action-packed experience. There also are some critical flaws, including plot holes and cliches that hurt the movie from a story perspective.
Fortunately, odds are that anyone who plans to see this movie isn’t all too interested in the plot and instead wants to see giant monsters wreaking havoc. After a slow first third, the movie delivers the desired action.