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Godzilla (2014)

tn_godzilla14Godzilla is one of those great icons who’s been around for fuckin ever because he re-invented himself many times over the years. Like the Madonna of Japan. He started all depressing and black and white in the ’50s, then he got crazy in the ’60s, kinda psychedelic in the ’70s, a little bit preachy about the environment in the ’80s, kinda garish again in the ’90s. There was that one movie in 1998, Godzilla’s iguana period, a laughable mistake like when MC Hammer tried to go gangsta rap. In my opinion that movie doesn’t even exist anymore since they used the exact same title for this one. Technically there can only be one American movie called GODZILLA, so they had to delete the other one to get this one.

Director Gareth Edwards, who did that found footage movie called MONSTERS that I still haven’t watched but heard was pretty good, is responsible for the one and only American GODZILLA. I think he has the right idea: treat it serious, no wackiness, but let the situations be humorous sometimes. The gloomy, often ashen-gray cinematography and Spielbergian sense of awe (lots of dollying in on kids that notice something dangerous approaching before the adults do) makes me suspect he was going for a little less silly than what he came up with, but I dig what he ended up with anyway. It’s a straight-faced movie where survivors of massive devastation aren’t scared that the giant radioactive dinosaur they’re standing next to is still alive and about to stand back up, because they know he’s the good guy. And I respect that they weren’t ashamed to use Godzilla’s trademark energy breath (though I’m not sure why they didn’t want to build up to it, like he gets some source of radiation that powers him up to be able to use it at a crucial moment).

mp_godzilla14The character types are pretty standard both for giant monster movies and for American blockbusters. You got scientists (Brian Cranston, Juliette Binoche, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins) figuring out what’s going on and a soldier (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) getting involved while trying to reunite with his family (this generation’s greatest cinematic crier Elizabeth Olsen). Early on there’s some pretty effective tear-jerkery, but at the end I felt like they were fooling themselves by ending on the emotional reunion. That would be cool if that was what we ended up caring about, but no dice, in my opinion.

By the way, hats off to Taylor-Johnson’s character for pulling a pistol on Godzilla. That might be an homage to the greatest human moment I’ve seen in a Godzilla picture, the part in FINAL WARS where UFC legend Don “The Predator” Frye sees the monster approaching and reaches for his sword. Like he’s gonna stab him in the toe or something. I like a Godzilla human character who’s willing to give that a shot.

These guys have only a little more depth than Frye’s character and not even half the mustache. They’re all acceptable characters but not great ones, and I feel Watanabe especially gets short-changed. I couldn’t help but think this great actor was just there so they could have a Japanese guy say what the monster is called.

(One scene missing: Watanabe hearing David Strathairn say “Godzilla” and trying to explain that no, he called it “Gojira.”)

It’s hard not to compare this to PACIFIC RIM, the only other giant monster movie to come out in a long time. Story-wise GODZILLA is much more basic and generic. PACIFIC RIM is packed with colorful gimmicks and not restrained by quasi-realism. But in the crucial area of giant monster fights, Edwards delivers where in my opinion del Toro didn’t. Del Toro shot his monsters mostly in closeup, mostly at night, mostly in the rain, and never stopped cutting from them to the interiors of the robots, constantly interrupting the flow of the action. Though del Toro had way more monsters, way more fights, and the bonus of giant robots, Edwards is much better at staging his big guys for maximum awe. He pulls a PREDATOR with Godzilla, keeping him unseen, or parceling out glimpses of a tail here, a scaly fin there, before you start seeing the full monty later on. But even when he pulls the trick of cutting away before the first big monster fight he gives us a quick look at news footage that for me was more satisfying than most of what you get in a PACIFIC RIM or, of course, a TRANSFORMERS.

You see monsters approaching from far away, rising up from beneath water, flying down from above, appearing from behind. You get to see them in pieces and as a whole, in the distance and closeup, a fat sac of glowing eggs dangling above us as the mother crawls overheard. Gulp. When they fight you get to see the participants in full, the way a human action scene should also be shot.

There’s some pretty good destruction and peril and what not. For those keeping track, this is indeed one of the disaster movies where a dog escapes. In one scene Johnson falls off a bridge into water, chased by both a burning, wrecking train and a flying monster. While some of the command center discussion scenes seem almost as stilted and stiff as the ’90s Godzilla movies, the set pieces are mostly pretty inspired and well directed.

Famously, Ishiro Honda’s GOJIRA: KING OF THE MONSTERS (1954) used the monster as a symbol for the devastation of the bombing of Hiroshima, and at least a few critics have argued that doing a(nother) Hollywood blockbuster version disrespects that serious subject matter, or something. Yeah, well, that’s nice, but I don’t know if they’ve actually seen GOJIRA. I saw it in a theatrical re-release years ago, and it’s good, and it bummed everybody the fuck out. I was actually worried when that first teaser for this one came out that it was gonna be some kind of depressing 9-11 parable or something. Nobody wants to see that shit. With all due respect, none of you motherfuckers writing that shit would even know there was such a thing as a Gojira if he’d only ever been used in a parable about Hiroshima in the ’50s. You’re gonna pretend you never heard of the 60 years worth of sequels? No, Godzilla still exists because he fought a gold three headed dragon, shot death rays out of his mouth, did a flying dropkick, had a son he taught to blow smoke rings, fought against a robot duplicate of himself piloted by martians, dated a giant moth, etc.

(And if it’s really such a big deal to you please note that the same point about Hiroshima is made in this one but actually spoken out loud so Americans can understand it without having to interpret metaphors.)

A more silly complaint I’ve seen from some of my militant purist friends is that it’s an outrage to make a movie that has a computer animated Godzilla when before he was done as a guy in a rubber suit. Now, I am strongly in favor of a guy in a rubber suit (for a movie, not a fetish thing, come on now) but this is just such a superficial view of movies that it makes me sad. Do you like Godzilla for the character and the concept, or for the specific materials that he’s built out of? If it’s the second one then I gotta say buddy, it sounds like you actually don’t like Godzilla.

I mean, I wonder where you draw the line anyway. Does it have to be the exact same technique from before, or does it just have to be outmoded? If they did it with a rubber puppet that looked like the old movies, but was not a guy inside, would that be a violation of the sacred trust or would it be acceptable? What if it was a guy in a suit but with animatronics so advanced it almost looked like computers? Would that be okay if you read how it was done, or bad because it looked too convincing? What if it was a guy in a rubber suit but CG augmented, and if so would they have to do a bad job with the augmenting or would it be okay to knock it out of the park?

And also, don’t you think this probly was a guy in a mocap suit? What if the mocap suit was rubber? How do you know this wasn’t a man in suit?

Personally, I think it is a good computer animated rendition of the character and destruction of Godzilla. If I need to see a guy in a suit smashing models I am secure in the knowledge that there are about 30 of those movies already in the Godzilla series alone. It’s okay to try something new once or twice every six decades in my opinion.

Godzilla’s enemies in this one are not any of the old classics. Just like an EXPENDABLES movie they feel they have to make the dinosaurs share the screen with some young pretty faces. They’re called Male Muto and Female Muto, and they’re pretty cool, they look like what would happen if Cloverfield fucked Gamera’s enemy Gaos.

cloverfield-gaos

They’re good opponents for Godzilla because they’re physically opposite. They have long skinny limbs with extra joints, he has short stubby arms and fat ass thighs. They’re slim and angular, he looks like he’s been eating more than his share of cupcakes. One of them has wings and can fly, he does not have wings and cannot fly because he does not have wings. They’re trying to settle down and start a family, they fight as a couple, he’s still single and wild.

Edwards also does a little bit of my favorite thing in a monster movie: giving them some moments where they’re just animals. The movie seems to think they’re bad guys, but they’re just following their instincts, they just think they’re a male and a female looking to have some pups. A giant monster fuck scene where they smash a bunch of buildings that catch on fire and it looks like they have a bunch of candles around and then they go at it from like four different positions. Would be a good scene to have, but instead we just have to put two and two together that they were fuckin. But anyway they are lovers and we see them nuzzle each other, there is a real funny joke in this scene but it still humanizes the monsters, or monsterizes them. And when the female returns to the nest and finds that (SPOILER) the guy from KICK ASS aborted her entire brood she starts to cry, both because of this terrible thing that has happened to her family and because she remembers how everybody hyped up KICK ASS so much but she really only liked Nicolas Cage’s performance and a few other aspects.

It took me a minute to figure out where Godzilla is coming from in this one. What does he have against the Mutos that he wakes up out of his slumber to kill them before they can have babies? Is he the King of the Monsters or is he just a huge fucking asshole? Did he have a thing for Female Muto back in the day and if he can’t have her nobody can? That’s fucked up, Godzilla. You need help bud.

Those monsters aren’t doing anything wrong. They’re just protecting their kids like all the human characters are trying to do. They don’t know humans have feelings, they’re just walking around, trying to have a family, trying to live the American Dream. Why the fuck does Godzilla want to protect the humans anyway? Is he the giant monster equivalent of an animal rights activist? And doesn’t he remember that the humans tried to kill him, they dropped a bunch of nuclear bombs on him?

Then I realized that was the answer. They dropped bombs on him but he only absorbed their energy and became more powerful. He thought the humans were feeding him! That’s why he loves us so much. That’s how part 2 is gonna happen is he’ll eventually get pissed off that nobody’s bombing him and have to start smashing people to get results. Then they’ll have to build Mechagodzilla because weapons make him more powerful, he can only be defeated by punching.

I don’t think this is one of the Summer Popcorn Movie Classics, but it’s a pretty impressive big budget debut and a solid Godzilla do-over. Welcome back big fella.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Monday, May 19th, 2014 at 12:15 pm and is filed under Monster, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

71 Responses to “Godzilla (2014)”

  1. Vern, Monsters is NOT a found footage film.

  2. “I don’t think this is one of the Summer Popcorn Movie Classics, but it’s a pretty impressive big budget debut and a solid Godzilla do-over. Welcome back big fella.”

    Yeah I’d say that’s pretty right on.

    It’s not flawless but there is more good than bad and when it’s on point it’s a pretty competent entry in the series. One of the better Godzilla movies and I’ve seen about 22 of them if you count this one and the last American attempt. If the Sony movie is a 2/10 then this one is a 7/10. It’s a good way to not only introduce Godzilla to a new generation or to people who don’t give a flying fuck or know anything about Godzilla. It’s also a decent revival for us older fans who haven’t seen Godzilla in 10 years.

    The biggest problem for me was the human cast. They were just pretty much wasted on ever level. See the thing is sure a lot of the actors in other movies in the series were also irrelevant. But in those cases they also didn’t take up most of the screen time or hijack the narrative like the humans in this movie did. The monsters did. I think that’s what’s getting to so many people. The fact that this is a hollywood movie with a budget in the 100’s of millions I guess people expected competent characters to play a role.

    (SPOILER)Instead we have one character actually have purpose and a solid enough motivation to be our surrogate eyes in this world then he’s gone before we can even blink.(SPOILER)

    Everybody else is irrelevant, underwritten and the performances were very mediocre (Elizabeth Olsen and Ken Watanabe were especially useless and Kick Ass gave such a tired and bland performance) so it feels slower than it should especially since a lot of these characters serve no real purpose except taking up screen time for sake of taking up screen time.

    That was disappointing. Especially considering that one of the highlights of the movie MONSTERS by this director & likely what landed him the Godzilla gig was the great performances by the 2 leads and how 3 dimensional the characters came across in that lower budget movie. So it stands out even more because you know Gareth Edwards could do better. That was the only real weakness.

    I usually have no problem with slow burn and enjoy a good build up as much as the next patient movie goer as long as the characters are actually engaging throughout their journey. The problem with these characters is they commit the cardinal sin of being super boring. Not worse than the humans in the Sony Godzilla who were beyond obnoxious though. So I guess I’d at least give it that much credit. Considering that in the last Godzilla movie when they cut to the humans they were pretty colorful and still involved in crazy action scenes which always kept my attention though, still pretty bad.

    With that said despite little screen time the monsters were handled perfectly and their execution makes it easy to overlook the flaws. The monsters are the real stars of these movies after all. Their presence is really felt throughout the entire thing which is most important even when they weren’t around to be seen. Then every time they were on screen it just felt right and I dug the little homages to other movies in the series during the fights like when Godzilla

    (SPOILER) pried that MUTO’s jaws open like Mecha Godzilla did to Anguirus back in the day and then puked atomic breath down it’s gullet. (SPOILER)

    I damn near jumped out of my seat when I saw that. Very well done and thoroughly engaging monster carnage. I agree with Vern that making them come across as more instinctive gave them a layer of empathy. If there “let’s start mating” tactics weren’t so detrimental to humanity I’d even say they would almost seem Mothra like at points in terms of being a more sympathetic type of monster.

    A sequel has been confirmed apparently so I’m just glad this won’t be the last Godzilla. Despite the shortcomings of this one like I said before it’s strengths are pretty strong. There is potential to grow bigger and better with this new series of movies as it goes along. Hopefully in the next one they not only find a way to include more interesting and competently written human characters; but they also manage to balance the screen time between the monsters and the humans much better.

    There’s a lot of promise in this flick and I hope that potential could be reached down the line. Can’t wait to see more of the classic TOHO monsters in future entries. Godzilla’s best buddy Anguirus is a must same with nature’s heroine Mothra, Rodan and Godzilla’s arch nemesis King Ghidorah.

  3. I suppose I liked this one, and there was some pretty good monster action, but I didn’t love it. Like others have noted, the human characters weren’t very interesting, and they had more screen time than the giant fucking monsters. Especially the argument between David Straithairn and Ken Watanabe; that was so half-assed and undercooked that I’m surprised they didn’t cut it out entirely. It was just Straithairn saying, “hey we should do something about these giant monsters destroying America” and Watanabe replying, “Nah, Godzilla’s got this, let’s just chill.” I mean, what?

    And like Vern mentions; what’s Godzilla’s motivation here? He’s fighting the MUTO people, and the only reason we’re given is because nature must be “in balance.” Uh, I don’t know about that. Nature is never in balance. That’s why dinosaurs ruled the earth for 300 million years, it was because they were the biggest baddest motherfuckers around, and they totally railroaded the mammals, who had to cower in the mud lest they get eaten. Then the meteor struck and the “balance” got destroyed again. It’s like Godzilla was some God-like avatar coming to save humanity just because humanity is oh-so special. I wish they either wrestled with that question more or gave Godzilla a better motivation.

  4. Good call Vern on Edwards letting his monsters be monsters, doing what monsters do, fucking, and sundry stuff. This was a theme in his first monster film, ironically also called MONSTERS. I like that movie a lot, a low budget indie drama with a high concept, emphasis on the drama. Don’t go in expecting ALIENS. Or even ALIEN. And yeah, it aint a found footage joint. Rejoice.

    Agree that the awesome Ken Watanabe didn’t have enough to do. I love that guy. He was good in BATMAN BEGINS and INCEPTION, and so damn great in THE LAST SAMURAI(itself a great under-appreciated film), that I would hate to see him relegated to the token Asian guy role in Hollywood films for the rest of his life. I think Luc Besson should grab a hold of him and give him a Liam Neeson middle-age badass makeover. Dress him in a grey suit, put a fuckin sword in his hand and set him loose.

    On humour in the film – HardlyWalken(on a different thread) noted some stealth humour. Yeah, it was there. Not overkill like a Stephen Sommers or Emmerich ejaculation, thank god. I appreciated the restraint of it because I prefer this material to be dark and dramatic. One scene that actually made me laugh out loud was when *SPOILER* Ford’s kid was watching tv and the news report showed the Muto’s tearing up Las Vegas, and the look on the kids face was hard to read. I thought, why isn’t he scared? And then his mum walks in the room and he says “look mummy, dinosaurs!”, like he was watching an awesome creature feature. Then the look on the mums face when she realises shit is going down. Awesome.

  5. I liked the movie. That said, I honestly can’t believe anyone would praise the monster fight scenes in this over those in Pacific Rim. At least Pacific Rim HAD fight scenes, and didn’t cut away to the boring humans every time something was about to happen. I’m fine with the “slow burn” idea of monster movies(I just watched Daimajin recently, the monster does not appear until the last 10-15 minutes), if it builds to a great final 10 minutes of monster action, with say, an occasional cut to the humans dealing with whatever. But instead, we got a final 10 minutes of Aaron Johnson’s seemingly invincible soldier dealing with the nuke, with an occasional cut to Godzilla fighting the Muto. And the even in that big epic final fight(which encompassed about 3 minutes of film, total), it wasn’t any clearer or easier to follow than say, the Hong Kong battle in Pacific Rim.

  6. Yeah I do have to agree that the structure of the fight scenes in PACIFIC RIM at least gave it better pacing in that regard. I wish this movie would’ve had a good 3 really identifiable setpieces like the old school Godzilla sequels but it is what it is. We still haven’t gotten the American GODZILLA we deserve but it’s still the one that we needed right now.

  7. I think Godzilla’s motivation in this was that the Muto were waking him up with their mating calls and destruction. Once there’s peace and quiet in his eyes he’s quick to head back to his bed. The Muto were just a nuisance to him. Like mosquitoes and flies that can’t let you sleep at night.

  8. I liked this film, I liked Cloverfield, and I liked Pacific Rim. I guess the weirdest thing to me is that people are going bonkers for the big fight at the end. I actually thought the choreography stunk. The visuals were great, the shot composition was great, yeah I was really genuinely awestruck at these titans going at it but the actual stuff they did was pretty fuckin’ dull. The little guy jumped on Godzilla’s back, and the big one stomped on him. Godzilla ended the fight with a couple of pretty sick fuckin’ finishers, almost anti-climatic in a way, that bothered me a little. I still think that the best multi-monster fight in the last 10 years, in terms of choreography, is King Kong vs. 3 T-Rexes, and I stand by that. Second place is Pacific Rim’s Battle of Hong Kong, and third place is I Left A Crater In San Fransisco from this movie.

    I will say that I didn’t find the human characters flat at all. Dr. Seriwaza waves off his colleague and seems positively manic to get a glimpse of Godzilla. Ford Brody (that’s two bro first names in one character, nice job) spent the movie getting ground up and spit out by the events related to these fuckin’ monsters and I’m not sure what a person’s reaction to that should be. He seemed to be a pretty low key level headed guy and honestly stunned amazement is probably the appropriate response to what’s going down. It amused me that this film takes great pains to show the human characters as completely incompetent and unable to keep their promises or do anything substantial at all. “Promise me you’ll protect your family” *gets stuck in Hawaii watching Godzilla hug a MUTO* “Sam, I won’t leave you.” *sends son away, runs screaming from Godzilla* “I can defuse this bomb!” *bomb is damaged by the MUTOs, can’t be defused* I mean this movie is a litany of human foibles and failures; literally nothing goes right and nobody does what they say they will do. The only thing that performs exactly as it should is the big fuckin’ fire-breathin’ “alpha predator” who doesn’t give a fuck about anything but killing and can’t be understood by the human mind. It’s almost religious. Flawed man is nothing next to the scaly perfection of God(zilla)!

  9. This movie is pretty decent in my opinion. It sometimes reminded me of jurassic park.
    But I know jack shit about godzilla and after he revealed himself I kind of lost interest in him a little bit.
    Maybe it is because we barely learn anything about him. He just brings balance to the force and absorbs nukes. And even though the movie is called ‘godzilla’ I felt like he kinda just tagged along more so than being really neccesary for the plot.
    The movie is basicly the US army vs. MUTOS but instead of the usual plot twist that turns the ties into the army’s favor and provides a happy ending it’s godzilla showing up and wrecking shit up real good.

    But other than that, I thought it was very nice to see a competent blockbuster film again that doesn’t blow all his wad in the first five minutes.

  10. Oh hey one more thing guys: they’re perfectly clear why Godzilla goes after those MUTOs. Hold on, lemme make some spoiler space here: HISTORY SHOWS AGAIN AND AGAIN HOW NATURE POINTS OUT THE FOLLY OF MAN. Ok, still here? The reason Godzilla crushes those fuckin’ MUTO bastards is because they use Godzilla’s kind as incubators, because as you might have gathered Godzilla has a lot of radiation in that scaly old body of his. Remember the beginning? Where they find the big Godzilla skeleton with the eggs in it? Well guess who those MUTOs fucks are going to go after once they, and their progeny, have eaten all the nukes? That’s right – they’re gonna go straight to the ocean and kill Godzilla. And we can’t have that. Godzilla know. Somewhere in that lizard brain of his, he knows that if those MUTO bastards start a family that not only are we doomed, but he’s doomed as well. So…time to scrape the algae off the old back-spines, fire up the nuclear soul, and get swimmin’. Go go Godzilla!

  11. I was pretty fuckin’ pleased with this one. Yeah, the human drama is a little underbaked, but it’s not exactly dire. I was never bored, even during the long wait to get to Godzilla while we wade through a little rote human drama. I though Kick-Ass was surprisingly likable, especially considering how much I fucking loathed KICK-ASS and how utterly forgettable he is in SAVAGES. Even though I don’t really care about his wife that much (boy, gotta love Olson for trying that hard with that little character) I was rooting for him to save a little kid, not get hit by a fire train, etc.

    I appreciate that even though PACIFIC RIM probably has a higher action volume per second, GODZILLA absolutely makes the most of every single action beat in a way RIM doesn’t. Every action sequence –the even short ones– sports at least one cool gimmick or idea, they’re all different from each each other, and they all slowly build to the final confrontation. It never even remotely suffers from special-effects burnout because each sequence is distinct and has its own unique pleasures and character.

    They should have cut Watanabe and Straithairn, though. Those character go absolutely nowhere and don’t even contribute to the plot or action. They’re not even deuce ex machina characters, they’re the equivalent of Raymond Burr in the American version: just a bunch of guys sitting in a room describing exactly what we’re seeing. They’re not in it enough to really sink it, but they definitely add unneeded bloat to something that’s already running a little long.

  12. Pretty good reading of the movie HardlyWalken. And I just want to say you’re right about the King Kong vs. 3 T-Rexes fight in King Kong. That’s a monster fight that hasn’t been topped. It’s a great fight because of all the little story beats involved in it. First it’s Naomi Watts hiding from the first one before–oh shit–another one’s head is right by her hiding spot! The sound design of the chomping jaws trying to get her is amazing in itself. Then she’s about to get nailed before–cue dramatic music–Kong busts in in all his glory to take on the two T-Rexes. And of course a third appears out of nowhere to get that rumble started.

    The vine segment is top notch, you can see every single one of the Monsters’ moves, you can tell what kind of damage Kong is taking, etc. That’s just quality filmmaking. And then of course the fight packs an emotional punch at the end when you see Naomi Watts choose Kong and lets him fight for her. Whenever that movie is on TV I have to watch that fight, even if it’s an hour away.

  13. Mr S – I felt the same about Taylor-Johnson. Likable, yeah, but also a bit bland. I kept thinking he was Nicolas Hoult, and had to keep telling myself he was Kick-Ass(also-I love KICK-ASS.)

  14. I liked this movie alright. I actually agree with HardlyWalken’s take almost wholeheartedly. And HardlyWalken, if didn’t bring up King Kong (2005), I would have. While they weren’t doing quite the same things, they have a lot of similarities. And while I thought this one was okay, I think it suffers pretty bad in that comparison.

  15. “With all due respect, none of you motherfuckers writing that shit would even know there was such a thing as a Gojira if he’d only ever been used in a parable about Hiroshima in the ’50s. You’re gonna pretend you never heard of the 60 years worth of sequels? No, Godzilla still exists because he fought a gold three headed dragon, shot death rays out of his mouth, did a flying dropkick, had a son he taught to blow smoke rings, fought against a robot duplicate of himself piloted by martians, dated a giant moth, etc.”
    A-fucking-men, Vern. Gonna see this in IMAX on saturday.

  16. I thought this movie tried to somehow capture the spirit of those Godzilla movies, albeit less campy and with better FX, acting, technicals, etc. We have the monster mayhem that those movies have the reputation for, as well as Edwards clearly was inspired by GOJIRA in terms of the opening and slow burn with the monster before we finally see him and you know have the pacing try to be driven by ideas and not just TRANSFORMERS-ish setpieces. Its compelling science fiction.

    There are legitimate complaints against the movie. The human characters, I personally wanted more monster fighting, etc. But you know what pisses the holy fuck out of me?

    “Fuck this shit, this is a Godzilla movie. Not a love story with a Godzilla cameo at the end. Look at the title, I feel ripped off. Boo!”

    What’s worse? I keep reading nerds make that same complaint. You know the same assholes who in the same paragraph jerk off to those old Godzilla films. You know the ones where for the most part you follow around irrelevant humans waiting for the monster fighting/smashing shit (which is why you’re watching this) and Godzilla isn’t really in the film that much?

    I actually have to agree with Faraci when he said that for better or worse, this is a pretty earnest faithful in spirit adaptation of those movies.

  17. Also this will sound crazy and pretentious, but for whatever reason the ending is really sticking positively with me and is threatening to become profound.

    I think it was somebody online (I’ll try to find the link) who made the argument that no matter what the humans did with all their great technology and weapons, they don’t do dick what so ever against the monsters. In fact the 3rd act is them trying to stop that ticking nuke planted by the humans that the monsters carried away into downtown San Francisco. Opps!

    No who saves humanity from these monsters? Godzilla, who kills many people himself and probably regards us as nothing more than ants. He’s a predator who gaves after these silly kid monsters in love simply because dammit this is his planet and you can’t barge onto my turf! Man vs Nature, Nature puts us back in our place.

    I mean jesus, Godzilla gets to have his swim-off-into-the-sunset heroic ending that alot of his older movies had.

    Also as much as people bitch about Godzilla being fat….I like the idea that he’s been swimming and eating tuna for a long time. Its been thousands or millions of years since he actually been in a real fight. He is clearly out of breath in one scene. Dude needs to hit the gym at Monster Island, pronto!

  18. Not having seen the other films, or being really an expert on monster movies at all I enjoyed it. It was serviceable enough as a blockbuster, but I also didn’t feel like I was losing brain cells watching it either. I do think Cranston*, who give easily the best human performance of it, was killed off way way too early. I would have loved to seen him and Watanabe** share the screen, and was actually hoping for that with the previews. Other than that I dug it. Not really invested enough to be excited in a sequel, but it’s no big surprise that they’re doing one.

    *Minor nit-pick, but I feel somehow compelled his name is spelled with a y. One thing I’ve learned in my lifetime is how often my name is mispelled (mine is one with an i, and I have seen way more “Brains” than anyone here would ever believe).

    **Have you seen the Japanese UNFORGIVEN yet? I’m still hoping this gets released in the U.S. somehow.

  19. Did anyone else get a strong grumpy old badass vibe from the way Godzilla carried himself? Like it was all just a pain in the ass to eben have to deal with this bullshit? Back in the day he probably liked all the fighting but that was a long time ago and he’s enjoyed retirement for a few million years. Then one day he wakes up and some assholes are making a racket and oh shit it’s the Mutos. Only one way to deal with them so now this tired old timer has to swim halfway around the world and that just pisses him off even more. So then he has to kill these guys because that’s his job, and he’s still got some moves even if the fire breath isn’t what it used to be. Then when it’s all wrapped up the big guy just trudges back home grumbling the whole way about how he’s too old for this shit and that he’s probably going to have to come back when these idiots wake up Ghidorah and oh won’t that be a
    mess.

    And on a personal note my favorite character was the bus driver because he had the only correct response to Godzilla: Follow the birds to somewhere far away.

  20. I personally was completely blown away by this movie right from the start with those awesome opening credits and main theme, how often do you see that in movies these days? cool opening credits that set the tone and a main theme you actually want to listen to on it’s own, then you have an obvious homage to JURASSIC PARK with that helicopter flying over jungle mountains, so I knew early on this would be a great movie and it never let me down

    I’m gonna be lazy and just list the things I love about this movie

    1. while I have not seen MONSTERS either but judging by this http://www.imdb.com/media/rm2424275200/tt1470827?ref_=ttmi_mi_all_sf_4 and GODZILLA I think Gareth Edwards has a gas mask fetish, lots of gas masks in this movie, which is fine by me, gas masks are cool

    2. while we never get to see Godzilla stomping around Tokyo (maybe next time?) the movie still started off in Japan, so unlike the ’98 Godzilla it did not seem to be embarrassed of it’s Japanese origins at all, major props to that and the presence of Ken Watanabe

    3. if you have to have a Godzilla movie in America and not Japan this movie picked literally the 3 best places you could set it, San Francisco, Hawaii and Las Vegas, all of which make a lot more sense than New York since they’re all in or near the Pacific Ocean, which should always be Godzilla’s home turf, not the east coast

    4. finally, what really makes this a great movie is it’s the rare modern blockbuster to show restraint, it’s not overstuffed with action and destruction the way a TRANSFORMERS or MAN OF STEEL is to the point where you just become numb to it and are ready for it to be over, like JURASSIC PARK is has just enough in it to leave you wanting more, which is how it should be, leave the audience wanting more, not less

    I’m overjoyed to hear it was a hit and a sequel is on the way, hopefully Gareth Edwards will return as director

    also, I’ll be frank, as a weeaboo it gave me a smug sense of satisfaction to see friggin’ Godzilla handled better in an American movie than Superman, suck it comic book nerds!

  21. One thing I forgot to mention, I think they should’ve reworked some of the old Godzilla theme music. The score is fine but not great in my opinion. It could use some of that BOMP BUH BUH BOMP.

    onthewall – I really want to see that UNFORGIVEN remake. There’s an import of it for sale on Yesasia but it’s really expensive.

  22. Joshua Hamilton

    May 20th, 2014 at 2:22 am

    Best part was toward the end, when Kick-Ass pulled out the pistol and aimed it at Godzilla. I was all, like, whoa, that’s just like in Saving Private Ryan, when Hanks pulls out the gun against the tank. And then they cut to Godzilla, who was grabbing the other monster by the jaw. Oh shit! Are they gonna do that one thing? Like in King Kong? Is he gonna break open his jaw like King Kong did to that T-Rex? But then he was all, like, dodge this!

    Well fucking done, Godzilla. That was a boss move.

  23. Jareth Cutestory

    May 20th, 2014 at 7:00 am

    How’s Godzilla’s singing voice in this one? That screech of his in the old movies is one of my favorite things ever.

  24. This is a really good movie taken on its own terms. Almost all of my problems with it come from my baggage, not the movie itself. It’s just not my preferred take on Godzilla. I think they jumped to the “Godzilla is a good guy who fights for us” thing a little too quickly. I like Godzilla to follow the UNDISPUTED model: He starts out a straight-up villain, and then in the next one he becomes the reluctant hero. This one never gave Godzilla a chance to be a threat in his own right. As soon as he shows up, he’s saving humanity from other monsters. He barely even got a chance to fight the military at all, which is a staple of the series. The one time he mixes it up with the humans, he’s STILL protecting innocent bystanders by blocking the idiot navy’s missiles.

    I just prefer my Godzilla to be a badass punisher of mankind’s hubris. You get too big for your britches, Godzilla shows up and cuts you down to size. Then, later, when other, even worse monsters show up, he becomes the lesser of two evils. Other monsters want to take over the earth, but Godzilla just wants to stomp around for a bit every few years before going back to bed. It’s a monster we can live with. It’s not that he LIKES humanity; he just HATES other monsters. He’s not trying to protect us, he’s trying to protect his turf. This whole “restoring the balance” thing feels more like Gamera’s territory. I don’t like how everybody is so buddy-buddy with the big guy at the end. We spend so little time with him that it feels unearned.

    But taken as its own vision of the character and not mine (shockingly, no one involved in the production asked for my input) it was very successful. I didn’t mind the human characters at all. They’re no blander than the people you get in the average disaster film. They did their job and didn’t outstay their welcome. And the set-pieces looked great. Artful carnage, shot from a proper distance, varied terrain, clear staging, all-time-classic finishing move. It definitely beats the pants off of the numbing monotony of those PACIFIC RIM slugfests. Although it did commit the same sin: If the laser blast works so well, why not lead with that?

    And I agree with Vern: Why does everyone decide to say “Godzilla” when the guy who explains it to us says it “Gojira?” It’s not that hard to say, people. I get that we’re stuck with this vaguely racist bastardization as the brand name because Americans in the fifties were afraid of foreign-sounding words, but there should be an in-story reason for the two pronunciations. Right now it seems like Watanabe is the one who doesn’t know how to say it, not everyone else.This would have actually been a good place for a single instance of Emmerich-style self-referential humor where Watanabe complains about all the stupid Americans who can’t say a simple Japanese word without screwing it up. At least there would be a reason for the two names. Right now it’s like if Obi Wan called it The Force but everyone else says The Fork and there’s no explanation why.

    Anyway, MOTHRA WITH SPECIAL APPEARANCE BY GODZILLA is a good one. I’ll happily see more of these.

    Thirded on the Kong vs. T-Rex fight. Still the best monster battle of the modern age. Possibly ever. The way it keeps building and evolving and the choreography just keeps getting crazier without ever getting confusing for one single second shows what an underrated action director Jackson can be when he sets his mind to it.

  25. It’s really crazy how many parallels this movie has with JURASSIC PARK. Mr. Edwards must have had a copy on hand all the way through filming.

    My first thought after leaving the theater was “Wow. Thank god those monsters showed up and saved that boring ass movie.” But as days go by I keep thinking of the staggering images created during ANY of the set pieces and I find myself wanting to go back and see it again.

    I mean, that wide shot of Godzilla standing next to the destroyed Golden Gate Bridge was just jaw-dropping.

    Vern-boy I wholeheartedly agree about the theme/score (which was, come on, the best part of McG’s Charlie’s Angels). Also, your book is pretty damn good. Kindle says I’m about 70% through it. Keen to see just how you stick the landing. Really liked the whole hotdog bit and the stuff with the billboards. Good visual stuff.

  26. P.S. I know it doesn’t seem to be canon that that was Mothra, but come on. You’re telling me there’s another giant monster with moth wings out there? You’re not fooling me.

    P.S.S. If you do, as I do, consider Muto to be Mothra, this film represents an interesting inversion of the original mythology. Mothra was the benevolent protector of the earth and Godzilla was a physical manifestation of the horrors of the nuclear age in general and the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs in particular. So what we’ve got here is a movie where the planet’s natural processes become the villain and the representation of American military dominance becomes the hero. I think there might be a thesis project in here somewhere.

  27. Godzilla doesn’t save anyone. He does what he’s meant to do: kill threats to Godzilla. It’s human incompetence that is the actual enemy. The children on the bridge are threatened because the trained military panics and fires off a bevy of poorly-aimed missiles at Godzilla, not realizing the consequences of what they are doing. Godzilla interposes himself between the missiles as he rises not out of some magnanimous impulse, but because it’s time to get up and fuckin’ smash these MUTO bitches. It just so happens he’s a huge wall of invincible super-lizard that stops the missiles from killing the kids – not that he gives a shit because, after leaning on the bridge like a tired marathoner, he smashes right through it anyway. He also kills a shitload of people at landfall in Hawaii.

    The whole hero talk is really freakin’ me out. He’s not a hero. He’s a savior. He’s king of the monsters. But he has no human morality and therefore is not a hero. He makes no decisions other than “these MUTO fucks are a threat to me and have to die.” If it means going through a building or drowning three thousand people then he would do it. Godzilla don’t care. He’s basically got the exact same character beats as the Hulk: he’s the strongest one there is and fights to be left alone to exist, in repose, forever.

  28. I want to point out that the one moment in this movie that a human succeeds at anything, here lemme get some spoiler space again: SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER It’s when Ford Brody lights up the fucking nest and gives a flame abortion to MUTO mom’s brood. And is it coincidence that only a few moments later Godzilla reveals his ability to spew purifying flame as well, showing the obvious kinship between Brody’s methods and Godzilla’s methods? The message is obvious: the righteous man succeeds when he adheres to the precepts of God(zilla). This movie has massive religious undertones; the literal ‘man of science’ is mostly a Godzilla cultist who has absolute faith in Godzilla’s ability to rectify problems and works himself into a lather at the prospect of seeing his God made flesh. Does anyone doubt that Seriwaza would put on a green satin robe and jump directly into Godzilla’s mouth to recharge Big G’s flame breath? I don’t.

  29. I loved the fact that…

    SPOILERS

    When the little kid that Brody has saved from falling out of the train is reunited with his parents, he doesn’t even turn around to Brody and smile, which is EXACTLY right. This kid literally gives no more of a fuck about anything other than being back with his parents. Just a brilliant little touch.

  30. I liked this movie but didn’t love it. It kept giving me flashbacks to Transformers Episode I. I know bringing up Transformers in a discussion of movies is like calling somebody Hitler in a political debate, but follow me [SPOILERS LURK BELOW]. The main thing was the lack of Gojira fighting monsters, much like how the first Transformers had very little of the Transformers. I mean, they spent at least 45 minutes building up to the first appearance of Gojira and when we finally get a full-body shot and the big guy roars….. we cut away to another scene. And get a few quick glimpses of the fight on TV. WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK?!! I was so pissed when that happened, but I was still digging the movie, so I just went with it (in fact, up until then I was worried that the packed house at Grauman’s Chinese was not into the movie as much as I was; this dynamic flipped 180˚ by the end, where the audience was WAY more into the movie than I was, to the point where I was getting annoyed that they were cheering for fucking every little thing that happened).

    But then the monsters finally swim to San Francisco and Gojira starts fighting the Muto and….. the fucking doors close and we don’t get to see what happens. MOTHERFUCKER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! At this point I was was frustrated. I wasn’t super-pissed at the movie because I enjoyed everything that was happening, but I was getting some serious blue-balls for monster fighting. I saw this movie for two reasons: #1 monsters fighting and #2 monsters destroying lots of property in an urban environment. The movie was delivering in spades on #2, but #1 was nowhere to be seen.

    Finally (FUCKING FINALLY) about 2 hours into the movie the monsters face off again. At this point, I was genuinely worried that we would never get to see the monsters go for an all-out brawl. I had read that Gareth Edwards wanted to show the monsters from the perspective of a human, so I worried he would try to stick by that philosophy and only show things from Kick Ass’s perspective. Luckily the monsters really do have a massive brawl, and it all looks pretty glorious. But even then, it felt like it was over so fast. And the way Gojira finished off the last guy (shooting fire breath down his throat) was awesome, but that should have been the final move in a crazy fight sequence. Instead, he just snuck up behind him while he was distracted by Kick Ass and sucker-punched him. Or sucker-breathed him. Not sure what the correct term is. It was still a badass move, but not nearly as badass as it could have been if Gojira had spent 5 minutes knocking him into buildings and dropping The People’s Elbow on him from the corner of the ring before finally giving him mouth-to-mouth annihilation.

    I went in wanting to love the movie (as I do with most movies) but I had basically no expectations. I’m not a huge fan of Godzilla movies, but I always like the parts where Godzilla monsters are destroying shit and fighting eachother. I had hoped that this movie would be smart enough to recognize how boring the scenes with humans are in those movies, but apparently they felt the need to be faithful to the Godzilla legacy of really boring scenes with humans. So…… great Godzilla movie, but just pretty good as a summer blockbuster.

  31. HardlyWalken: I get what you’re saying, and they’re careful not to cross the line by showing Godzilla doing anything too blatantly heroic, but come on, man. Why is that shot in there with him blocking the missiles anyway if not to get the audience on Godzilla’s side? Why the triumphant music and the news scrawl that literally calls him SAVIOR OF THE CITY? Why is there not one shot of Godzilla causing a human death? The filmmakers clearly mean us to to see him as an unambiguous good guy. Unless you can make a case for humanity totally misreading their relationship to the beast, I stand by my interpretation that the film paints too one-dimensionally positive a picture of a giant lizard who crushes buildings with his every footstep.

    Actually, it would be kind of awesome if they pulled a reverse UNDISPUTED with the sequel. Let’s say humanity’s latest work of hubristic idiocy causes Rodan to awaken or something, and then Godzilla arises and everybody’s like, “Oh, thank god! Godzilla will save our ass! We’re boys like that!” Then Godzilla kills Rodan, because that’s what Godzilla does, but then he turns around and starts fucking shit up himself. Like, “You don’t know me, motherfuckers. I am not your errand boy. You can’t just keep expecting me to clean up your messes. I think maybe it’s time to teach you a little lesson about the nature of our relationship.”

    I would straight up love that shit. Like I said, I prefer my Godzilla to be mankind’s punishment, not its savior. Leave that shit to Gamera.

  32. Mr. Majestyk, I think you and I are on the same page. It’s just a matter of degree. And I absolutely agree with you about the missile thing, but it’s totally in line with the movie venerating Godzilla as a deity. He saves lives; he destroys lives, he doesn’t care (I don’t agree that the movie shows nobody dying from Godzilla; that tsunami for sure kills people). But you’re right. The movie totally paints him one-dimensionally: as a savior. But not a hero.

    Now, I absolutely would feel great about Godzilla 2: Still Godzilla having him fuck man’s shit up because it’s in his best interest to do so. Mankind creates some kind of new weapon or energy source and Godzilla, in his single-minded way, marches through anything in his way to destroy it. Although, to fit this movie’s theme, the object in question should have had some kind of horrible design flaw or whatever. Maybe it produces a lot of smog in addition to being radioactive and they have to feed it human souls or whatever. Doesn’t matter. The point is, Godzilla feels like it’s a threat to him, and it’s showtime. Maybe he needs to feed again. All that radiation he got back in ’54 has got to be running out now. As the Snickers commercial demonstrated, you DO NOT want Godzilla getting hungry.

  33. You’re right, we don’t seem to be disagreeing on much. I personally would have liked to have seen Godzilla’s monstrousness emphasized a little more. He feels a little too cuddly too soon. I would have liked to see more collateral damage so we felt a little more ambivalent about our uneasy truce with this giant dinosaur. Did you see the last film in the 90s Gamera series? There’s an AWESOME scene where Gamera, previously seen by humanity as its friend and protector, goes WAY overboard in his zeal to kill a couple Gayos and ends up killing way more people than the Gayos ever could. It’s brutal, and it shows that Gamera’s primary goal is protecting the planet, not the conceited little meatbags that scurry across its surface. Something like that would have fit in perfectly with this interpretation of Godzilla.

  34. The more I think about it, the more I love this movie.

    SPOILER

    The MUTOs are not awakened by science gone wrong. They are awakened by capitalist greed, pure and simple. The (fictional) name of the fucking company that finds them is UNIVERSAL WESTERN MINING, holy shit. The dwarves dug too greedily and too deep, and who knows what they awakened there in the darkness?

    The MUTOs are specifically presented as the nasty byproducts of western capitalism, and thus cannot be defeated by western capitalism. And they CANNOT be ignored or minimized. You can’t lock them up in the mountain like nuclear waste. They will get free, and there will be consequences. Do you think going to the artificial avarice oasis of Las Vegas will save you? This film specifically says – NO – you cannot ignore these consequences. They will literally tear down the front of your artifice and destroy you. And, unchecked, they will multiply and spread and destroy your system. Greed has eaten itself.

    So what can you do? I’m torn. I love the interpretation of Godzilla as a religious deity. But I might have that pegged wrong. I now think that Godzilla is less of a deity and more of a revolutionary figure. He doesn’t care about the consequences. Like most of you have said, he’s here to do a job. And that job is to fix the problem, regardless of how many buildings he knocks down or people he steps on. He is the ultimate revolutionary, the one that cares only for results, not consequences. San Fransisco’s downtown is shattered; reduced to rubble, thousands dead and yet the MUTOs are vanquished. Godzilla’s approach is transformative, both positively and negatively. Godzilla is a 90 million ton Occupy San Francisco and he’s going to do a lot more than beat a bongo drum.

  35. Captain Aktion

    May 20th, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Just wanted to point out that Godzilla clearly killed at least a few dozen people when he flooded the city, so yes, the film does show Godzilla taking human lives. But much in the way that he accidentally saved the people on the bridge from the missiles, he accidentally killed a bunch of them too. He’s not really concerned with the people at all, we’re just there and we’re the one’s interpreting what he’s doing.

  36. He also sank at least one ship, which I’m sure led to casualties. So you’re right, he managed to kill a few people. But I don’t think it’s us, the audience, interpreting his actions. It’s the filmmakers who chose to deemphasize the destruction caused by their title character so he would be more appealing. Which is fine. It’s an interpretation that works. I just like to see Godzilla taking mankind down a peg so I’m a little disappointed I didn’t get to see him wrecking more shit.

  37. caruso_stalker217

    May 20th, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    I would like to think that dozens of children were killed when Godzilla plowed through the Golden Gate Bridge.

  38. This move was such a disappointment. Why would you make a movie called Godzilla and have him as the supporting character who shows up for a grand total of about 5-10 minutes of a 2+ hour movie. The final battle was over way to quick. Pacific Rim absolutely destroyed this movie.

    And I have to respectfully disagree that the fights were not filmed well in Pacific Rim. That movie was awe inspiring (just re-watched it this past weekend before i went to Godzilla, so that definitely didn’t help Godzilla either).

    The only thing they got right was the look of Godzilla. They need to hand this franchise over to someone who can do this proper. This movie should’ve been at least 50% giant monster battles and destruction.

  39. I feel bad because it seems like there was no possible way for the filmmakers to win. I haven’t seen this much fan boy bitching since the prequels came out.

  40. Yeah, bitching about sums it up. Next thing you know, there’ll be communal menstruation.

  41. Oh please. This is nothing. Go check out both MAN OF STEEL reviews if you really want to see how it’s done.

  42. Yeah, I’m not sure that Bitch Meter is trending above the normal amount of background radiation, really. I mean, anytime anything is remade you’re going to get a a delicious gripe buffet with a helping heaping of grumbling from purists, as well as the brain droppings from people who never actually saw the original and are basing their expectations on half-formed impressions of decades-old movies. I remember that when Independence Day came out I was reading the newsgroups (the Olde Internet version of message boards today) and the goddamn “HOW DID HE GIVE THEIR COMPUTER SYSTEM A VIRUS” meme was in full effect even back then. So yes – we’re going to hear “NOT ENOUGH GODZILLA” and “THE PEOPLE WERE BORING” forever and ever. (Let me stress – these complaints have merit.) I highly suggest you adopt my posture – ignore it and argue about the way more interesting stuff around the edges (such as Godzilla: deity or revolutionary? or just a really big fuckin’ lizard?)

  43. I’m really shocked to see people complaining about this movie, honestly. As far as I’m concerned, this is one of the most classically constructed and relentlessly involving disaster/monster movies I’ve seen in years. There’s TONS of action in this film, it’s absolutely stuffed with monsters and effects, it just wisely knows that it needs to build, not just be a repository to dump monster footage into your eyes. There’s some fat in there, but jesus, if this is a disappointment to people purely on the grounds that it is not 100% shots of Godzilla fighting, I just don’t know what the fuck you want anymore. Are we really to the point where a film is declared a failure if a single minute goes by without a money shot? That’s not what a film is. You’re thinking of a youtube video. Films have ebb and flo, they punctuate things with money shots but also lull us with quieter moments so that those money shots actually have impact.

  44. “Classically constructed” (see Mr S^) is a big reason why GODZILLA is so good, and I’m sure will give it future credibility and re-watchability when the dust settles. Maybe not for the cranberry juice crowd.

  45. I don’t see why we’re spending so much time reviewing our fellow moviegoers (who such, have always sucked, will always suck, and are best ignored) when we could be talking about whether or not the movie argues for or against global warming. Are the Mutos a warning of the ecological apocalypse headed our way if we keep screwing with nature, or is Godzilla a fuck-you to alarmist do-gooders who think the planet can’t take care of itself? Is this a liberal monster movie or a conservative one? I can’t tell and that’s probably a good thing. It’s certainly more interesting than debating why strangers thought it was boring.

  46. Right, no more bitchin about the bitchers.

    I prefer Godzilla’s ambiguity to direct preaching. HardlyWalken’s Religious Deity/Revolutionary theory is interesting. IF shit is gonna go down in our generation or our childrens and beyond, I would like to think a ”Deity” is gonna be involved in some way. But that would come down to a faith position.

    If he’s a Revolutionary, I would fear that wouldn’t be enough to turn the tide of what’s been happening in nature and the world for the last century.

    I don’t think Godzilla is a Deity, because he’s fallible. There is some need to protect and fight, but he’s also a Destroyer. He’s not trying to save everyone on the planet. He fights as the situation requires, as in MUTO Attack.

  47. The MUTOs aren’t just global warming. They are everything negative associated with western-style capitalism. They are voracious consumers of energy, they are incompatible with other forms of life, they are environmentally unfriendly (there’s a reason they leave a trail of wreckage behind them that looks like a strip mine) and they cannot be defeated by the military-industrial complex. The movie takes great pains to point out that the military has it’s heart in the right place. It wants to protect people. The Admiral doesn’t participate in any kind of cover-up or engage in conspiratorial behavior; his immediate response is “there’s no hiding this and I don’t care to; the point now is to save lives.” He’s a Good Man, but it doesn’t matter because he’s constrained by the system he works within. Everyone in this movie tries their best to perform their job but there is only two times that anyone succeeds: Godzilla, who as a radioactive dinosaur is completely unbound by the shackles of the status quo, and Brody, when he also starts ignoring his orders (keep in mind – nobody told him to burn out the nest! He’s supposed to be with the rest of his squad!), breaks from the orthodoxy, and helps Godzilla by murdering MUTO babies.

    Godzilla uses the methods of a terrorist in this film. He slams a flying critter into a building, leaving a huge hole in it. It then collapses. That’s explicitly 9/11 imagery. He takes the head off the MUTO female. That’s also something associated with middle eastern terrorists. But the thing is – Godzilla is RIGHT. He is RIGHTEOUS. His way of doing things is correct. So what is the film saying? I don’t think it’s “terrorism is the correct way to deal with the excesses of capitalism”. Is it saying that transgressive acts are needed to correct the imbalances of capitalism? Is it saying that technology is not going to solve the problem? I’m not sure.

    Mr. Majestyk, I will say that, if you believe the MUTOs to be a byproduct of western capitalism/greed, then the film’s political leanings hinge on whatever you interpret Godzilla to be. Is he a Galtian superman who, unfettered by rules and regulations, can easily fix problems with his atomic breath? Or is he a progressive revolutionary who, unchained by the system that spawned these monsters, can be truly transgressive and effective in his solutions?

  48. “Are we really to the point where a film is declared a failure if a single minute goes by without a money shot”

    I wish people would quit misreading the arguments and replying like the above. A lot of people aren’t complaining about the “slow burn” or that the movie isn’t CONSTANT Godzilla, most people haven’t been asking for that. The thing is, even in the fucking CLIMAX of the movie we still only see about 3 minutes of Godzilla, compared to like 10 minutes of Bland-Ass dragging a nuke through the city. And hell, the 3 minutes aren’t even consecutive, it’s like 20 seconds of Godzilla followed by 2 minutes of Johnson, then another 30 seconds of Godzilla and another 3 minutes of Johnson, ending with a final full whole MINUTE of Godzilla doing something badass, followed by some more Johnson. If you want to see a “slow burn” kaiju movie done right, watch Daimajin(or it’s sequel). The movie is 75 minutes. The titular monster does not show up(except as an inanimate, partially covered up statue shown from a distance), for 60(or more) of those 75 minutes. You get that? That’s no “money shot” for the vast majority of the movie. But, when the majin DOES finally show up, we get 10-15 minutes of solid, monster action. Once he DOES appear and start wrecking shit, we SEE him wreck shit, they don’t show him START to wreck shit then cut away to 3 minutes of the peasants.

    Jaws would be another example, since people like to compare it to Godzilla-you don’t see Jaws till the end. But when Jaws DOES finally show up and start fucking up the boat and eating Quinn, the movie SHOWS us Jaws fucking up the boat and eating Quinn, it doesn’t show Jaws start to smash the boat then cut back to the town and show us the citizens doing something back on the beach, then cut to Jaws about to bite Quinn then immediately cut away to the Mayor for 2 minutes.

  49. I guess you could say it wouldn’t hurt if there was a little more Godzilla, but to me that’s still better than way too much Godzilla, as a lesser movie would do

  50. As a Nolan-esque/”dark and gritty” re-imagining of the Godzilla sequels, I can’t believe this works as well as it does. There’s a ton of stuff that borders on Orci/Kurtzman that I feel like I should have nitpicked (how the EMP’s and their effects seemed inconsistent, how it’s a hell of a coincidence the creatures awoke from a 15 year slumber the next day after Ford shows up in Japan, etc…) but the filmatism in this one is so strong I didn’t mind. Edwards will never be nominated for a best director Oscar for this, but his work is incredible here – so many awesome set pieces and classic images (that skydiving scene!)- there’s a Spielberg-ian confidence on display here that I don’t think I’ve seen since early Shyamalan. (I don’t hate JJ Abrams as much as everyone does, but the sense of showmanship and awe in Godzilla even further exposes how Super 8 was only a good idea of a movie – “homage to Spielberg and Amblin!” – with absolutely no idea how to pull it off and only one memorable sequence – a train crash that seemed borrowed from another movie.)

    I left the movie theatre wanting to see an Edwards-directed sequel immediately – I haven’t felt that way about a movie in forever. (Even though I’ll totally roll my eyes if he fights a Nolanized Ghidorah in the next one – after Dark Knight, Sherlock Holmes 2, Star Trek into Darkness, and I guess Batman vs. Superman, we should please have a moratorium on the whole “fighting your biggest nemesis in part 2” trope)

  51. Griff brings up a good point, and like the “too little/too much” Godzilla conundrum, I’m glad the move had “too little” human character development. At first it’s weird to see Oscar nominees Watanabe and especially Hawkins do hardly anything, but from years of experience sitting through countless summer movies, I know it’s a slippery slope until suddenly you’re back to Godzilla ’98 where we have yet another Die Hard “estranged couple getting back together” story, and we’re supposed to give a shit about Maria Pitillo getting passed over for a promotion at the news studio and Hank Azaria’s wife or whatever that was. I’ll take “underwritten” Elizabeth Olsen and “bland” Aaron Taylor-Johnson having no conflict in their relationship any day of the week. Besides, the streamlining lets this movie be sub-2 hours minus credits, and at least 20 minutes shorter than the Emmerich one. That’s incredible in this day and age where every summer blockbuster seems to hover around 2 hr. 30 min. (Thanks Michael Bay!)

    Also one more thing – I did notice alot of the online community who were up in arms about Superman apparently killing thousands of innocent people in MOS (you know, by throwing Zod into supposedly fully populated buildings even though the city was evacuated), suddenly don’t seem to care that our “hero” (or savior, whichever) Godzilla kills thousands of people in this movie. I mean, we’re shown that one cute white girl narrowly escapes into a Starbucks in Hawaii, but it’s not like there weren’t probably dozens of other young girls stuck on the street who drowned horribly. Or tons of schoolbuses not containing the hero’s kid who died when he crossed that bridge. Yes, Superman is supposed to be a humane superhero and Godzilla is supposed to not even give a shit about humanity and treat us like ants, but I mean, c’mon, *SPOILER* people at the end are totally cheering for a guy who probably caused a 9/11-like level of destruction just walking back into the sea. (The movie is so well made, and the simplicity of the ending and the triumphant music as he submerges had me grinning like an idiot, I’ll admit)

  52. “how it’s a hell of a coincidence the creatures awoke from a 15 year slumber the next day after Ford shows up in Japan” Well, the chain of causality is pretty clear here: Ford Brody goes to Japan to bail out his father, Joe. Joe is in jail because he was caught in the quarantine zone. Joe Brody is in the quarantine zone because he urgently wants to get his data back to compare it to the new readings that he’s getting from the power plant. The readings from the power plant are the creature waking up. Therefore, the creature waking up causes Ford Brody to go to Japan.

    Also, re: Man of Steel vs. Godzilla: Godzilla has a history of stomping on buildings and literally doing 360 burn-your-city victory dances. Superman has a history of not killing anybody and solving problems with a snap of his fingers like a Superdaddy. So sadly, rather than take movies as their own work, people bring their preconceptions in and judge the movie based on other media, rather than what’s on the screen. Hence not really minding that Godzilla accidentally kills a lot of people while fucking up the MUTOs (because, comparatively speaking, he’s been A LOT WORSE in other movies) and that Superman literally saved the entire planet (because, comparatively speaking, in other media he “should have” been able to do it without having to kill Zod or without any casualties). Even the characters in Godzilla 2014 seem to have some awareness of other Godzilla movies/what his prior behavior has been, and how pleasant he’s being, as nobody runs away or screams when he awakens And let’s face it, their only exposure to him has been him stomping into town, knocking down buildings, and killing other monsters – but the characters seem to have some sort of Ur-Knowledge that this big lizard means them no harm. I would like to think it’s because they watched 70s Godzilla films.

  53. HardlyWalken – ah, thanks for the clarification – I somehow missed the line of dialogue saying there were NEW readings coming from the plant, and I just assumed it had been making that pulse/noise thing the whole time and Cranston only now got caught trespassing. Speaking of which, *SPOILER* I really don’t get why his character had to die instead of getting sidelined with an injury or sticking around to work with Watanabe. I know it works as misdirection but it ends up feeling like a missed opportunity, especially now there’s going to be a sequel. By the time it was over I kind of forgot him and Binoche were even in the thing.

  54. Sweetootho – You must really hate Alien.

  55. I mean, anytime anything is remade you’re going to get a a delicious gripe buffet with a helping heaping of grumbling from purists, as well as the brain droppings from people who never actually saw the original and are basing their expectations on half-formed impressions of decades-old movies.

    for the latter, I would add in people who love Breaking Bad went in wanting to see Walter White fight Godzilla…

  56. I assumed it was highly probable that the little girl in Hawaii and her parents drowned in that Starbucks. Same goes for the dog. Both things were call-backs to Independence Day where Vivica Fox, her kid and Boomer the dog hide from the blast inside of a tunnel maintenance access, only I think the result was not so happy this time. I guess it was kind of silly to think the Starbucks corporation would save them from Godzilla. Not unless he can be placated by $5 caramel macchiatos.

  57. ^The film never tries to convince us that those characters DID survive the destruction. Once the shot pans up to the streets flooded up to the, what? Fourth, fifth floor? Do you think everything was hunky-dory down on the ground? Weirdly, when they hide in the Starbucks and the water rushes and presses on the glass I felt more like it was momentary reprieve, not that it just “saved” them. Like in a war film and a bomb misses three of the random wide-shot soldiers but creams another ten of them. I don’t feel like the film is saying to me, “Those three are safe”, it feels like it’s telling me “These guys got a chance”.

    Sometimes, with all the very specific and subjective issues many people are having with the film, I wonder if it’s symptomatic of trying something “modern” with something that is already “established”…? I mean, there was no chance in Hell that this film was going to be some kind of perfect distillation of sixty years worth of a film series. How can you account for the very specific times and eras where a flying Godzilla can work and be satisfying while in the same series, we’re supposed to feel deep emotion and dread when he appears in other eras with different political and social subtext weaved within? Can you?

    Do you just cater to specific expectations? Do you cater to the Godzilla fan who wants to see wall to wall monster beam-fighting? Do you sympathize with the “old-school” and make Godzilla a being that the audience WANTS to see eradicated? Do you follow the obvious comic-book style roads that “superhero dinosaur” take you down? Arch-enemies, supporting casts, and a black-and-white view to giant monsters who destroy entire cities (’cause if you go that route, you gotta have them wreck a bunch of shit, right?)…?

    Sure, I guess any of that shit could work with the right people and the right effort, but…AND this is a huge fucking “but”…BUT if you want to see a Godzilla film done with all the bells and whistles and distribution and saturation that you expect from the “modern” cinematic market, then, I’m so very terribly sorry for you, BUT you don’t understand that to have that level of penetration, you can’t automatically aim for the narrowest path.

    The film made concessions, it danced agilely along a sixty-year long tightrope, and it stuck the landing at something that, AS A LIFE-LONG GODZILLA FAN (emphasis, please), I have nothing to feel sorry about or embarrassed about when it comes to this film, and if it shows a larger audience where the value is in a property that I hold in high-esteem and opens the entire can for a new generation…

    …I’m sorry, I lost myself. What do I have to complain about again?

  58. “Both things were call-backs to Independence Day where Vivica Fox, her kid and Boomer the dog hide from the blast inside of a tunnel maintenance access”

    BOOMER WILL LIVE!

  59. DirkD13 – Actually, he did. I saw the movie today, and the kid does actually briefly give Ford a smile of thanks. But its done in a long shot, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it way, so its not trying to call attention to the moment and be sappy about it. I personally found it sweet, since I really admired Ford’s bravery protecting the boy.

  60. I think Griff nails when he says that too little is preferable to too much. If you want an excess of action there’s any number of recent films for you to watch instead, but let’s recall that in every single one of them we complained about how you became numb to the spectacle. Those money shots we get in Godzilla ’14 land with so much more impact by virtue of the fact that you had to wait and hunger for them.

  61. Saw it tonight. I liked it, but I’m in the “needs more Godzilla/less humans” camp with it. Maybe I’d be more forgiving of the humans being the focus if the film didn’t make EVERYTHING revolve around the same single character. Brody’s a kid when then MUTO when the MUTO causes the meltdown. Brody’s in Japan when the MUTO fully develops. Brody’s in Hawaii when the MUTO shows up. Brody’s on the train transporting the bomb. Brody’s trying to defuse the bomb. Brody kills the babies. Brody starts the boat(because conveniently everyone else on the mission is killed). They were shoving this guy down our throats all through the movie, so naturally I resented him taking focus from Godzilla. I also didn’t like the way the wife was portrayed for most of the movie, just waiting for him to come back and fix things. No, Lady. You should leave the city as soon as you learn a giant monster is heading your way! I also disagree about the fights being better staged than Pacific Rim. That San Francisco battle was way darker(watching in 3D might have been a factor through), literally more clouded, closer up, and briefer than anything from PR. Plus it kept putting ACTUAL PEOPLE in front of the camera, blocking the view. I literally kept thinking someone in the theatre had stood up at those times.
    But when it’s really focusing on the monsters and trying to convey the scope of them, it delivers. I liked Cranston and Watanabe, for as little they really did in the movie, and Johnson did alright (there was just WAY too much of him)and it was refreshing seeing one of these movies depict the military government being so concerned about the (relatively) smaller populations of the cities, with Stratharn basically saying “okay, the secret’s out of the bag. We’re going to focus on saving the people now as our highest priority” and not pulling the “we’ll nuke the city to save the WORLD” big picture card.
    My thinking about Godzilla’s motivations are along the lines of HardlyWalken’s, with it being because the MUTO’s use Godzilla’s kind as incubators. But I’d also like to take it further and suggest maybe the corpse they were inhabiting at the start of the movie was actually that of a relative of Godzilla’s. Maybe even a mate.
    GODZILLA: SHADOW OF A TEAR.

  62. Knox Harrington

    May 26th, 2014 at 12:44 am

    My favourite part of this movie was watching Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch make out. Been wanting to see that for ages.

    I had a good time with GODZILLA. It was a fun night out, but I doubt that I will ever want to see it again. All that destruction and spectacle started wearing me down after a while. At least PACIFIC RIM had some character and tried to tell me a story. Also, this movie has a shitload of exposition, which is usually the number one thing that makes me not want to watch something again.

    But hey, that roundhouse tail smash that Godzilla did on that guy insect was pretty cool.

  63. Watching this again on DVD recently, it occurred to me that this is one of the more under appreciated blockbusters of the past year. Literally no one I’ve spoken to about movies lately has mentioned liking this, if they even saw it at all. A shame, because visually it’s the best looking and most coherent monster mashup, or action movie in general, in the twenty years since Bay blew his first load on our screens.

    Story wise, it’s pretty standard, with just enough character development to engage our emotions, but not enough to raise the stakes once the monsters rise up and start tussling – this is what we came to see, and it doesn’t disappoint. The creature cgi is great, Gojira looks three dimensional and solid (I didn’t watch it in 3d). I guess this one just wasn’t noisy enough for most people to remember, but it still has plenty to offer for repeat viewing.

  64. I finally saw this one, and, well, I was disappointed. It was leaps and bounds better than the Broderick GODZILLA but…

    1. The MUTOs were way too similar to Cloverfield. Distractingly similar. This movie might as well have been GODZILLA VS CLOVERFIELD.
    2. SPOILER Why did the most interesting and relateable character played by the most recognizable actor have to die so early?? I have never even seen a single episode of BREAKING BAD, I just love Bryan Cranston from THE MIDDLE. I did not give two shits about his son the Army boy, and that was the remainder of the movie.
    3. WTF within 5 minutes of Godzilla waking up we see him swimming east with an aircraft carrier on either side of him, within spitting distance. Nobody had any evidence that he was a “good guy” at this point. And really he shouldn’t have been a good guy (though apparently he was?), and he should have swatted an aircraft carrier in half simply because he didn’t like being followed and they were too close.
    4. This movie doesn’t fail the Bechdel test, but it is pretty lame on women anyway. Sure, two women are “scientists” (one dies after about 5 speaking lines, the other follows Watanabe around and says a couple lines) and the other is a doctor or nurse or something who gives her son to another woman to take care of in the midst of a crisis, and then disappears until the sappy ending so they can all be reunited. No woman does anything consequential except die.

    The special effects were really good. They were going for a sort of “ant’s eye view” of the action much like Spielberg’s WAR OF THE WORLDS, which was cool, sort of, but that movie was a whole lot more effective.

    What we need is for Spielberg to direct a Godzilla movie. He would never shortchange the human element and would make sure that the story was about people and how they were affected by the destruction and chaos. He’d make us afraid for what was going to happen next instead of impatient for the next boss fight.

    Sorry… This movie is going to be mostly forgotten in a few years and time will not be kind to it. People will look back on it and compare it to BATTLE: LOS ANGELES or even BATTLESHIP, both vastly inferior movies but there are a lot of parallels.

  65. I agree, Poeface. I watched this one again last night and liked it even more than I did the first time around.

  66. Just caught this starting on the TV last night and ended up watching it to the end. Echoing Poeface and Phillip, GODZILLA stands up very well to to a second viewing. I only saw MONSTERS for the first time a few months ago and was very impressed by that too; it’s a beautiful guerrilla-style road movie across South America with a tentative romance and some subtle, understated (but hugely effective) SFX (you should totally review it, Vern, it’s well worth the watch).

    This Gareth Edwards fella seems pretty talented, they should give him a go at the new STAR WARS or something. Wait, what’s that? They did? Good job, STAR WARS people.

    One last thing that didn’t quite register the first time: the look on Godzilla’s face as the male muto swoops around him for one last attack. We’ve just seen Godzilla getting two-teamed by the mutos and getting the shit kicked out of him. After Lady Muto goes off to mourn her eggs, Mister Muto goes in for the kill and Godzilla looks like a beaten-to-shit boxer with one eye swollen shut, warily looking at this showboating Muto asshole circle the ring, playing up the crowd before the kill. And when he DOES attack, Godzilla seems to be turning away as if giving up and then – WHA-POW!

    Great stuff, Godzilla. Don’t let those assholes whinging about not seeing enough monsters get you down, you did good.

  67. Also seeing this again just before BvSDoJ didn’t actually do the latter any favours.

  68. After giving Pacific Rim another try I decided to re-watch this one (again). I believe I’ve been mentioned elsewhere that Japanese sci-fi/Giant monster movies are jam so I was excited for this and it did not disappoint. I feared that the movies many flaws would grate on me as time went by (the movie feels like three or five different scripts melded together being the biggest) but I still feel this one holds up because it delivers where it counts.

    I know everyone hates that Lead Guy (I think that was his name) but I enjoyed what they were going for with him just being a cipher or avatar for the audience. As many of these things as there are, we never really had one that really put the audience in middle with the monsters to fully show their scale. Him not having a personality didn’t bother me, I appreciated that he was a dedicated soldier just doing job. It’s actually the other characters that drop they dropped the ball with. I’m sure Olsen and Watanabe had a real purpose in one of the many drafts this movie is adapted from but in the final movie they do not. Well Watanabe dumps expocision, they set Olsen up for awesome stuff during the climax with her being a nurse and they decide to not film draft that they were leading up to.

    Really liked Godzilla’s design with his/her’s cute little snout. To everyone bitching Godzilla is not in it enough, congratulations you saw your first Godzilla movie. I hope you decide to check out more! I don’t feel I ever had a problem with/had to deal with fake poser fans or tourists or whatever but it is no fun (except when Rush Hour and it’s sequel came out and all of a sudden there were all these Jackie Chan ‘fans’). So many people claiming to be Godzilla fans when they clearly never saw one before or only have partial memories of watching one on TV 20-30 years ago. I try to not be one of ‘those’ fans but I almost was.

    Nerd time: The only thing I really disagree with this movie on is making Godzilla the Guardian of the Universe instead of a mutated dinosaur as a result of nuclear testing. That is a pretty important part of his/her character. It doesn’t nerd-rage me as much as it should, but I do think that not having Godzilla be born of man’s hubris is a fundamental misunderstanding of the character. Disappointing that the ’98 version kept it and this one could not.

    So yeah for the most part: #thisISmygodzilla

    By-the-way looking forward to Anno’s Godzilla Resurggence

    『シン・ゴジラ』予告

    2016年7月29日(金)全国東宝系超拡大ロードショー 公式サイト:http://shin-godzilla.jp/ ©2016 TOHO CO., LTD.

  69. *Resurgence

    Spellcheck (when it works) and re-reading posts before posting is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

  70. Saw SHIN GODZILLA (formally GODZILLA RESURGENCE) twice since Tuesday night. While I do agree with some reviews that it is a bit slow moving, I don’t think this movie is getting enough credit for how funny it is. The movie is basically about the Japanese government’s botched response to the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, nuclear disaster, with Godzilla standing in for all three.

    The movie is most similar to RETURN OF GODZILLA (edited and altered quite a bit and released here as GODZILLA 1985) in that it is trying to be a grounded modern-day how would the government respond to this movie. Unlike RETURN though, in this one the original GODZILLA movie never happened (a first for a Japanese Godzilla picture) and there is no sci-fi weapons at all. Unlike JURASSIC WORLD, STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, and BLAIR WITCH which are perfectly happy to just remake their originals, this one takes chances and even gives Godzilla a power set that is sure to piss off purists (something the prior mentioned movies would never think of doing). Yes it can be a bit too dry and even I’ll admit there is probably 20-minutes that could be excised and writer/director Anno could get across the same amount of information. If you disliked the 2014 American one for not enough Godzilla then it is probably best to steer clear of this one. I felt the monster scenes delivered in the 2014 and should have made up any perceived down-time in that one (personally I had a bigger issue with the disjointed script than I did with the human characters in that one), I feel this one more so delivers on the monster footage. No other Godzilla movie that I can think off, except maybe the original if seen when released, conveyed the hopeless of going against Godzilla.

    Like Anno’s other movies, both cartoon and live action, the more I think about it the more I really love this one.

  71. The KONG movie and related “monsterverse” buzz inspired me to check out this one again. It holds up quite well. Looks fantastic, creatures are awesome, action is awesome, good actors and performances (esp. Watanabe, Cranston, Strathairn), cool set pieces, good pay-off. Only flaw is Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, who in my opinion are pretty boring characters performed competently but blandly. Pretty excited to see the next one of these, especially since Michael Dougherty is in the mix.

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