Monday, August 24, 2015

Godzilla (2014) Re-Review

Ever since I was a young boy, I have been a huge fan of the Godzilla film series.  The first Godzilla movie I saw was Godzilla: King of the Monsters, released in 1956.  This movie left a huge impression on me as a young child, and since then the series has become one of the key things that defines me as a person.  Though this isn’t going to be one big retrospective of the series, instead I’ll be focusing on the new American Godzilla movie that was released last year.  The reason that this is called a re-review is because I did review the movie last year on my old blog, but what I wrote was pretty basic and short, and honestly I wanted to watch the movie again so I could offer my full opinion.
The previous time North America tried their hand at making a Godzilla movie, we got a movie featuring an oversized T-Rex running around New York City instead of Godzilla himself.  That movie was the key reason why some fans were skeptical about this movie when it was first announced a few years ago.  Fortunately, when the movie was released the reaction both critically and from the fans was mostly positive, though there were some that weren’t satisfied with the movie.  With all of that said, what do I think of the movie?
The plot involves a man named Joe Brody, played by Brian Cranston, who has been obsessed with finding out the truth in regards to a mysterious accident at a power plant in Janjira, Japan, which killed some scientists, in addition to his wife back in 1999.  Since that incident, him and his son Ford, played by Aaron Taylor Johnson, have had a tenuous relationship, given that Ford’s father has been too focused with finding the truth instead of just moving on.  Ford travels to Japan to free his father from jail after he was caught trespassing in the abandoned city of Janjira.  Joe tells Ford that he thinks he’s found the answer to the accident and he convinces his son to join him on another attempt to sneak into Janjira.  They manage to sneak into the city and it turns out the air in the city never became radioactive after the collapse of the power plant, but while Joe is collecting old data from his family’s now abandoned home, him and his son are arrested and brought to the site of the destroyed power plant.  It turns out that at the epicenter of the place there is a massive object containing an unknown lifeform.  The research is being conducted by a group named Monarch, however, it isn’t long before the creature wakes up and it starts to go on a rampage before flying off. 
During the chaos, Ford’s father is killed and now Ford has to help Monarch find and stop the creature.  Fortunately, the leader of Monarch, Dr. Serizawa, played by Ken Watanabe, knows of a creature that was studied back in the 1950’s called Gojira, or Godzilla.  The unknown creature, now called a MUTO, makes its way from Japan to Hawaii, and there it also runs into Godzilla, who shows up to confront the creature.  However, the MUTO escapes and Serizawa thinks it’s trying to find and meet up with its mate, who has been held in captivity at a warehouse in Nevada.  The captive creature eventually escapes its container and the two creatures meet up in San Francisco to create more offspring.  Now Monarch and the military have to find a way to stop the MUTOs from creating more spawn, but the answer may just involve Godzilla.
For what it’s worth, the plot and characters are both good.  Much like the first Godzilla movie, which was serious in tone and portrayed Godzilla as a metaphor for an unstoppable force, this movie portrays the monsters and their actions on the cities they show up in as the equivalent of a natural disaster.  Certain scenes in the movie do a good job at showing the aftermath of the carnage caused by both Godzilla and the MUTOs, and the toll it takes on society.  As I mentioned before, the 1998 Godzilla movie didn’t feature the Godzilla we know as that monster greatly differed from the actual Godzilla in terms of design and abilities.  Fortunately, this movie does feature the Godzilla, even though the design has been slightly altered to give him some animalistic traits.  For example, his face bears a slight resemblance to a grizzly bear, yet the overall shape and design still carries the Godzilla design we know and love.  Also, when Godzilla uses his atomic breath in the movie, it is truly awesome.  It should also be noted that the movie never makes it clear as to whether Godzilla is a good guy, bad guy, or an antihero.  While Godzilla’s role in this movie is referred to as the “alpha predator” and the “great equalizer” since he is the only one capable of defeating the MUTOs.  It does raise a question: if the MUTOs weren’t around, would Godzilla still reappear, only instead to cause chaos?
The new monsters introduced in this movie, the MUTOs, are a mixed bag.  While their ablities are fairly unique, design-wise, however, they look pretty generic.  Simply put, these creatures look like what would happen if the Cloverfield monster visited Tron.  Though this is made up by their abilities.  The MUTOs are capable of unleashing EMP pulses from their arms, plus, their primary food source is radiation.  So when the military plans on luring the MUTOs out into the sea and then use a nuke to kill them, guess how well that works? 
One of the key complaints from people who didn’t like the movie is that Godzilla doesn’t have a lot of screentime in this movie, which I don’t have a problem with.  What is a problem, however, is the uneven pacing of scenes involving the monsters.  While not prevalent throughout the movie, there are a few times in which certain scenes with either Godzilla or the MUTOs will abruptly end right as something interesting is about to happen.  For example, when the MUTO from Japan appears in Hawaii, along with Godzilla, the two creatures both let out their roars as we know that a fight is about to go down, but then the movie cuts away and instead we only brief glimpses of said fight via news broadcasts on the TV.
The other big complaint that people have is that Brian Cranston’s character gets killed off early on, even though the trailers for this movie made it seem like he would be in the entire movie.  This, I agree with, Cranston’s character is the best character in the movie as the emotional conflict at hand with him just wanting to find the truth as to what killed his wife makes him the most interesting character in the movie.  His son, Ford, is the character the movie mainly focuses on, and while Ford isn’t a bland or forgettable character, the problem is that when compared to his father, Joe Brody is the more interesting of the two.
Without a doubt, the special effects in this movie look great.  The Godzilla films are known for their strong use of miniature sets and for having stuntmen portray the monsters in costume.  Obviously, this movie uses CGI to portray the monsters instead of this technique, but the effects in this movie look great.  Similar to the movie Pacific Rim, this movie does a great job at showing off the scale and size of these creatures and the impact of their clashes.   The music is also great, even though this movie doesn’t feature the iconic Godzilla theme, the movie’s soundtrack wouldn’t sound out of place in another Godzilla movie.
Despite some pacing issues in the movie as well as the lack of more screentime for an important character, Godzilla (2014) is still an enjoyable movie and it finally does justice to the King of the Monsters after the last attempt of making a Godzilla movie by North America messed things up.
Final Score: 8/10

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