Review: Godzilla

As someone partial to over-thinking films after watching them, and then reviewing them, you’d think I’d have learned not to put too much faith in a film’s trailer; but it’s […]


three stars

As someone partial to over-thinking films after watching them, and then reviewing them, you’d think I’d have learned not to put too much faith in a film’s trailer; but it’s odd how Godzilla manages to be a completely different beast (pun shamelessly intended) to the expectations it carried.

GodzillaDon’t get me wrong: it’s by no means awful. Opinion in the group I watched it with varied from “total waste of money” to “absolutely loved it” and I find myself somewhere between the two, but experiences may differ. For what it’s worth the following is what stuck with me most, but I should probably warn there might be some minor spoiler shaped things ahead. So if you want to remain surprised, and haven’t seen the trailers, then here are the broad strokes, and I’ll tell you when to avert your eyes.

Yes, Godzilla looks fantastic. And for the first time I can remember I’m glad I saw it in the cinema purely for the audio, because that is one hell of a roar. The cinematography is great with careful framing giving the idea that the title monster is just too big to take in completely. It’s just a shame that he doesn’t get as much screen time as he might deserve, and instead we’re subject to a so-so plot that’s void of exciting twists and does little to heighten any drama. The worst bit, unfortunately, is some of the most bland-faced acting committed to screen since Keanu Reeve’s Klaatu. Aaron Taylor-Johnson has the personality and emotions of a broken toaster and a chemistry with his wife (played by Elizabeth Olsen) that’s at-best boring and at worst, absent.

(Here’s the part where we might get a tad spoilery)

Say this doesn’t bother you so much, as you’re here for the giant monsters (for there are several) and Bryan Cranston. On the former Godzilla’s adversaries aren’t spectacular, although he himself looks magnificent and reaches a crescendo of awesome when he finally unleashes his awesomely powerful radioactive fire breath. Problem is, as I’ve said we spend an hour of not-tension building before he shows up, and once he’s there he kinda just does what Ken Watanabe’s character predicts without any clear motivation except some handwaving about being an ‘alpha predator’ (although he doesn’t seem to eat).

As for Mr Cranston, his character isn’t really around for half the movie and what gravitas he lends is limply handed over to Taylor-Johnson’s character of his son, for him to wander around looking dazed for the rest of the running time. It’s a shame because he definitely felt like the most believable character in the movie (except Godzilla, who I’m told is entirely realistic).

This came within fire-breathing distance of being absolutely brilliant; but without payoff in any of plot, characters, or even just big Kaiju fistycuffs it’s merely ok. I wouldn’t give up the revision time at the moment. Maybe download it later in the year if you fancy a look. Just make sure the volume is up.