Warning! This post contains a handful of minor spoilers. If you have yet to see Godzilla and would not like to have anything spoiled, please see it first before reading this post. If you have seen it, then feel free to jump right in.
When I first started this blog post I was intending for it to tie into the new Godzilla film more as a retrospective piece. As it turns out, the more I wrote the more it begun to change and adapt into something else altogether (as is usual with my blog writing). Now I have seen the latest Americanised Godzilla I thought I’d try to succinctly give my viewpoints on this latest release. So is the new Godzilla a roaring success or just another cinematic turd like the 98’ version? To be honest its something completely different and sometimes different is good. Let me explain.
Now I will say I’ve read a few reviews over the past week or so for the Gareth Edwards directed Godzilla. Some have been hyperbolic, while others verge more on the side of curmudgeons, either way when has any film lived up to the hyper of its trailers or advertising material? In my opinion I feel that Godzilla was unfairly marketed to appeal to a mass market (it is a summer blockbuster after all) and less to the fans of the original Japanese Kaiju features.
Let me get this out of the way, the script to Godzilla ’14 is nothing more than a paint-by-numbers. The human element is painfully dull at times (I’m looking at you Aaron-Taylor Johnson), saved only by a brief role for Bryan Cranston and then Ken Watanabe who provides a wink to Godzilla’s original Japanese name (Gojira). The rest of the film is used as build up to the climatic battle between Godzilla and the MUTO’s.
This build-up is where Edwards whole-heartedly succeeds in creating a sense of awe and suspense that feels like a throwback to creature films of the 70s. Some reviews have mentioned his almost Spielbergian ability to tease and I would have to agree with these observations. While he might lack the confidence of Spielberg during these moments, its still refreshing to see a big-budget B-Movie at least try to keep a few things as a surprise for the audience.
For too long modern cinema audiences have been bombarded with fetishistic spectacle that they have a visual fatigue to it. Here Edwards pulls his punches and the airport scene (first full reveal of Godzilla and MUTO 1) is a great example of this. Just at the moment where both creatures are about to face-off against each other, Edwards cuts away to a set of human characters thousands of miles away. The beauty of this is we get to see News footage of the monsters briefly duking it out, which only whets the appetite for more mayhem.
Visually Godzilla (both the creature and the film) looks fantastic. Seeing Godzilla stealthily pass under a naval ship with a top-down shot showing the hulking beast beneath the depths, manages to be equal parts amazing and terrifying. While the already teased HALO jump is a moment of pure tension, jumping between wide angles and more intimate first-person perspectives. For that moment alone Edwards should be commended.
Then there is the first time Godzilla lets rip with the iconic sound of his roar – I can honestly say that it gave me goose bumps for all the right reasons. When the final battle does take place I feel it’ll make even the most hardened Godzilla fan smile. The moment when you see his tail-fin glow a luminescent blue, it’ll possibly become the moment a lot of Godzilla fans are waiting for as he unleashes his Atomic Breath blast on the MUTO’s.
In all honesty it’s really down to what you want from a Godzilla film. Yes this is better than the 98’ version, but it lacks some of the humour or more light-hearted moments you might expect from a B-Movie. Personally I loved what was done with the character and the fact the CGI has a certain man-in-a-suit quality to it, only adds to my enjoyment of the film. It’s far from perfect but I’m still happy with how the character was treated.
Have you seen Godzilla and if so how did you find it? Air your views below in the comments section.