McCoy on Movies: Godzilla

McCoy on Movies: Godzilla

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“Hey honey, look at the view; that giant lizard behind us even thinks it’s pretty!” The titular force prepares to strike in a scene from director Gareth Edwards’ take on the legendary monster that is GODZILLA. Credit: © 2014 Warner Bros. Pictures. All Rights Reserved. 


KEY CAST MEMBERS: Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins, David Straithairn, Richard T. Jones and Carson Bolde

WRITER(S): Max Borenstein (screenplay) and Dave Callaham (story); based on the character owned by Toho, Inc.

DIRECTOR(S): Gareth Edwards


60 SECOND PLOT SYNOPSIS (OR AS CLOSE TO IT AS ONE CAN TRY TO MAKE): The latest film to take on Toho, Inc. most famous creation, Godzilla stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson (looking MUCH more confident than his Kick-Ass character Dave Lizewski ever has) as Ford Brody. A bomb specialist in the U.S. military, Ford lives in San Francisco with his nurse wife Elle (Elizabeth Olsen) and their young son Sam (Carson Bolde).

While Ford has moved on from his past, his scientist father Joe (Bryan Cranston) has not. In fact, he’s still obsessed over the incident at the Japanese power plant that he and his wife (Juliette Binoche) once worked. For while the area has been locked down as a quarantine area, Joe knows something just isn’t right about the situation and he is determined to discover the truth. Of course, as Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Wantanabe) and Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins) – and the rest of the world – are about to find out, there IS something terrible waiting to reveal itself …

And once it does, nature takes over with a potentially even more powerful force waiting to take it on … Mankind better just hope it doesn’t decide to take them out in the process, too.

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST?: Long-standing Godzilla fans, people who appreciate Aaron Taylor Johnson fans, anyone who saw and hated the 1998 American Godzilla remake

WHO WON’T – OR SHOULDN’T – LIKE THIS FILM?: Bryan Cranston fans, Elizabeth Olsen haters, anyone who thinks America should leave the Godzilla franchise alone, anyone who turns into Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons over any discussion of monsters in movies, CGI effects, 3D IMAX format films, etc.

BOTTOM LINE – IS IT GOOD, GREAT, BAD OR DOWNRIGHT AWFUL? While not a classic, the latest iteration of Godzilla is a solid monster movie worthy of his trademark scream that provides audience enough thrilling moments to justify their ticket price.

WHAT’S GOOD (OR BAD) ABOUT IT? The 2008 The Incredible Hulk film had a lot of damage control it had to do following the much maligned 2003 version directed by Ang Lee. And while the Louis Leterrier version is either OK or, depending on who you ask, excellent by most accounts, one thing that is definitely not up for debate is how the film treated its title character. By that same notion, the 2014 version of Godzilla learns from the mistakes of the 1998 Roland Emmerich version by using the same three-step plan Leterrier’s film followed to a near ‘T:’

[1] Treat an unnatural situation as not only natural in the world its characters live in, but serious with a cool visuals where light, music and camera angles work in concert to create a slow, steady, dramatic build;
[2] Reveal the monster slowly so that the audience only gets a glimpse of the monster waiting; and
[3] Once the monster is revealed, all hell must break loose in a way where anything short of utter chaos is a failure.

Essentially carrying the picture from a human aspect after the film’s first dramatic act, Taylor-Johnson shows there is more to him than a teenage masked crime fighter to deliver a fine performance. Taylor-Johnson is director Gareth Edwards’ best human muse to draw you into the battleground that is to become Japan, Hawaii and the West Coast. Once Cranston sets the stage very effectively for what is to come effectively, Taylor-Johnson takes control without being brash or falling victim to the in-your-face trappings his character easily could have.

The fact he does not, however, should go to Edwards, who drops in enough elements of cinematic flair to keep you intrigued and stimulated over the course of its 2 hour run time. Effectively playing with every sense (save fortunately for taste), Edwards uses Max Borenstein’s script to much of its potential to craft a world where you spend less time thinking about what’s happening and more what’s coming next.

While the film does many things well enough, its not perfect by any means. Olsen comes off with a bit of a classic wet blanket female character stain and Watanabe unfortunately doesn’t do much but serve as the (thankfully not too stereotypical) wise Asian narrator. Likewise, there a few noticeable logic flaws in the film’s script but none that are too overwhelming but will leave you going ‘Well, what about …” upon further review.

All things considered, however, Godzilla (the 2014 version) stomps and screams its way into being an enjoyable film that really doesn’t make you feel a need for a sequel as much as it makes you go “At least they got this one kinda right.”