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Godzilla (2014)

Her Review:

The world’s most famous monster is pitted against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence.  The year is 2014 in Japan.  American scientist Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) and his wife Sandra (Juliette Binoche) work at the Janjira nuclear plant where currently some very strange vibrations are disturbing Brody.  They aren’t earthquakes but they can’t determine what they are or where they are originating.  A seismic reaction levels the plant.  Brody however doesn’t believe it was a simple earthquake, he knows there is more to it than that.  Fast forward 15 years Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), son of Joe and Sandra, is now a military bomb disposer.  He is alarmed by his father’s obsession and flies to Japan to bring him home.  While there the unthinkable happens and all hell literally breaks loose.  Starring CJ Adams, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, Elizabeth Olsen, Carson Bolde, David Strathairn, Richard T. Jones, Victor Rasuk.

Godzilla revives a cult classic, breathing new life into what was once a laughable genre, the newly reinvented monster flick offers stunning filmmaking and a little bit of heart.

It has been a very long time since I have seen any of the original Godzilla films.  Therefore, I won’t dare to compare this one to the those that came before.  I will leave that to those more obsessed with the monster known as Godzilla.  I will say that the film is a truly amazing feat of filmmaking.  The film builds gradually easing you into the chaos, unveiling the monsters gradually and systematically.  Every shot is grand in nature with sweeping landscapes, stunning lighting to highlight just the right moments coupled with eery and haunting sound design.  Some might compare it to last summer’s Pacific Rim.  There are similarities but quite a few differences too.  Godzilla highlights the monsters, featuring humans as an endangered species of sorts.  It’s troubling but probably accurate if you consider the “reality” of the situation if there is one.  I felt like this film had more of a classic feel, drawing from the versions before it and other monster centered films like Jaws.

All that said Godzilla, the film, is far from perfect.  That slow build and gradual reveal of the monsters leaves something to be desired and that is more Godzilla.  Seriously, there isn’t enough of this gargantuan and ancient creature who is disturbing and alluring at the same time.  He is so cool you are rooting for him even while be terrified by him.  Yet, in total you get to experience very little of Godzilla.  So while the trailer promises you this full length epic battle the epic battle is really about 15 or 20 minutes with a whole lot of build up.  My only other qualm with the film that brings its rating down for me is the fact that the writer and director didn’t take the heart in the film far enough.  The drama and emotion are there it just isn’t developed quite enough, and it easily could have been at the expense of a few of the grandiose shots and sweep camera angles I mentioned.

Godzilla might have missed out on being the perfect reincarnation of a monster franchise (pun intended) but it still provides you enough entertainment, including both laughable and clap-able moments, that I would consider this a must see big screen flick.

7/10 Stars – Could have used a bit more of its namesake but still an impressive feat of filmmaking

 

His Review:

I didn’t know what to expect when I went to see the new adaptation of the famous Lizard that ate Tokyo.  I was hoping for a good story and plenty of destruction and I think it is safe to say that this new Godzilla movie offered enough of both.  The story from beginning to end is engaging and will keep your attention (which for some movies this day and age is hard to do, trust me).  It isn’t overly complex or unbelievable, but on the other hand, it isn’t too simple that the movie questions our intellect.  The action is pretty intense, but mainly in the last hour of the movie as the first hour starts off pretty slow.  In fact, Godzilla doesn’t even show up until half way through and even then its for 1 scene before he shows up for the finally.  I don’t want to spoil anything, but there is a reason Godzilla isn’t the main focus until the end, and that is because there are other big giant things reeking havoc in the USA.  Oh yeah, by the way, some of the movie happens in Japan, but the main destruction happens in California in case you were wondering.  Even though I disapprove of the lack of action in the beginning, the settings and scenery really add to the overall atmosphere (think The Last of Us).  I guess this was the director trying to add some kind of character development in a monster action movie, something we rarely see.

Now, there was a movie that came out last year that felt VERY similar to Godzilla and that was Pacific Rim; a movie about giant man-controlled bobots fighting giant monsters from another dimension.  As I was watching Godzilla, I kept saying to myself, “if only they made a movie with Godzilla’s story and Pacific Rim’s non-stop action, that would be HUGE!”  Unfortunately, Godzilla wasn’t that movie, but once you get past the story heavy first half (I’d give it a 7), you are left with a fun, visually stunning fight at the end (which I would give a 9).  All in all, Godzilla is definitely a movie to see on the big screen, just don’t expect as much Godzilla as you hoped for.  Maybe he will return again in full force for a sequel?

8/10 Stars – The end surely made up for the lack luster, story-driven first half, I just wish there was more Godzilla… because he was AWESOME!

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