Check out our male vs. female perspective reviews of Godzilla, directed by Gareth Edwards, and starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Bryan Cranston, as Josh and Violet each provide their own review of the film (Caution: look for spoiler warnings)!
His Review of Godzilla:
Godzilla came out this weekend, and so far according to Forbes.com it opened to a massive $93.2 million. Rotten Tomatoes has it at 72% at the moment. That would deem good odds for an enjoyable movie experience! Especially since this and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 kicked off the summer movie season. (you can check out our review of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 here). Unfortunately, Godzilla falls a little flat, and was not the awesome spectacle I had hoped it to be.
Godzilla was directed by Gareth Edwards, a lesser known director in the US, mostly known for his work on Monsters. The film stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, most notably known for his role in Kick-Ass, as Ford Brody, Bryan Cranston, from Breaking Bad as Ford’s father, Joe Brody, and Ken Watanabe from Batman Begins, as Dr. Ichiro Serizawa.
The film follows primarily Joe Brody, in his hunt for the cause of a “natural disaster”, as Ford, Joe’s son, deals with his father’s obsession. Godzilla tries to make the film seem a bit less about Godzilla, and more about what people would do if gigantic monsters appeared on the Earth. Unfortunately, in its effort to build up the human characters in the movie, ultimately Godzilla, the star of his own movie, feels like a secondary character.
Another big flaw that I found this film had, was how many storylines really just didn’t go anywhere. Towards the beginning of the film, there is a big loss to the story, that really upset me and made me question the decision to have the character involved with this loss in the first place. Later on in the film, there is a specific plot device thrown in the film, but it really never gets used properly.
At this point in the review I am going to get a little spoiler-y, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
The two plot points I discussed above refer to the loss of Bryan Cranston’s character very early in the film, and secondarily Ford Brody’s bomb expertise. Firstly, I feel this film was marketed heavily to play up Bryan Cranston’s role in the film. He appears quite prevalent in the trailers for Godzilla, and the way he dies is just plain–boring, and really kind of strange. Joe, his character, goes through the trouble of sneaking into a quarantine zone to discover the truth about his hometown and its destruction, he gets caught, when Muto (the true villain monster of the movie) “hatches” and wreaks havoc in the base Joe is being held at. Joe falls off of a catwalk, and is seriously injured, but alive. In the next scene, Dr. Ichiro, leader of the team researching this “Muto” is asked who to bring along to a US aircraft carrier, and he points to Joe. Joe then dies on the carrier. Really? The story goes through the trouble of keeping him alive for Dr. Ichiro to pick him to get to a US carrier, just to have him die there? I don’t get it.
The second issue was the use of Ford, as a bomb disarming specialist, which was brought up several times during the film, never gets used. There is a nuke to disarm in the film, but the story decides to have the nuke blow up in the San Francisco Bay rather than allow Ford to disarm it. Huh? What was the point of playing up his character’s abilities just to really never use them?
As for the actual Godzilla parts, it took way too long to get there. Apparently the Mutos (two of them, making more Muto babies), had to convene in San Francisco, and Godzilla was coming to break up the party. There are scenes here and there before the trio meet up in California, but they are just quick moments of destruction and then disappearing.
So finally we get to see Godzilla in action, and death-match begins. It was pretty entertaining watching the three battle in the middle of downtown San Francisco I guess. I wasn’t riveted to the screen, but it was entertaining. I did have a big problem with Godzilla’s motives for fighting however. Dr. Ichiro described Godzilla as the “alpha predator” of the monsters. The film decided to turn Godzilla into a hero, however, as he almost seems to intentionally cause the least amount of damage possible. We see him save a school bus on the Golden Gate Bridge that were shot by US Carriers in the bay. Poor Godzilla, he is so misunderstood! But as a predator, you would think he would be wanting to eat is prey after he had defeated it. It turns out Godzilla was just interested in killing the “Mutos”–oh and by vomiting blue fire down one of their throats I might add.
I will end the spoiler-ies there. Overall, the movie was visually stunning. Godzilla looked great, as well as the other visual effects used in the movie. Godzilla’s fights were pretty entertaining, and at times, I was really interested in the human story going on. But overall, the human story kept taking me down roads that dead ended and really made no sense in the end.
Overall, I would give the movie a 6 out of 10, which interestingly is about where I put Pacific Rim. I guess this may say something about me, in that I really am not a big fan of the Kaiju type films. I guess big spectacles of Monsters destroying cities just doesn’t appeal to me. Up until both Pacific Rim and Godzilla, I was excited for the two, but in reality, they really rather bored me. Oh well. X-Men: Days of Future Past is next weekend! I have to let the disappointment of Godzilla go and look to the awesomeness of next week!
Her Review of Godzilla:
This weekend my husband and I went to see Godzilla in the only way it seems like it was meant to be seen: IMAX 3D. The film is directed by Gareth Edwards (who has a very short list of directing credits, consisting mainly of TV plus one indie movie, Monsters), and stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Bryan Cranston, and Elizabeth Olsen.
The film actually starts off with a flashback, way back to 1999. Ken Watanabe’s character, Dr. Ichiro Serizawa, and his team find the fossilized skeleton of a rather large creature in the Philippines, and also discover that it had laid a couple of eggs, one of which has hatched. Meanwhile, Bryan Cranston’s character, Joe Brody, and his wife work at a nuclear power plant in Janjira, Japan, and they have a young son, Ford. Thanks to some seismic activity (which I’m sure you can guess has more to do with a certain monster than with the Earth’s tectonic plates shifting), the city has to be evacuated.
Cut to 15 years later, present day, and young Ford Brody is all grown up (played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson), with a wife (played by Elizabeth Olsen) and small son of his own. He’s an EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) Technician in the Navy, and headed home to San Francisco to spend some time with his family. However, almost as soon as he gets there, he has to go to Japan to bail out his crazy dad, who has been arrested for trespassing in now quarantined Janjira, trying to get answers to what exactly happened that day 15 years ago. Joe convinces Ford to go back to Janjira, and they discover that some interesting things have been going on there that they could have never imagined.
It’s hard to discuss much more of the plot without giving too much away, but I will say that Ford gets his fair share of being a first-hand witness to nearly every attack or significant event, and that his military training is an essential part of the story.
I feel like the best way to describe the movie is “good things come to those who wait.” The movie starts off very quickly, with quite an emotional scene, and a good amount of destruction, but after that it feels really slow and like nothing of consequence is really happening. Sure, there’s a cool scene here and there, but the story isn’t all that interesting, and I found myself struggling to pay attention at times. But then once you near the end of the film, you finally get what you’ve been waiting for: an epic monster fight scene where Godzilla comes out in full force in ways that you won’t expect. Yes it was fun, yes it was exciting, yes the effects were beautiful. But it’s a little disappointing that you had to sit through almost the entire film in order to get to this point.
Additionally, when I’m watching a movie, at the end of the day, I’m looking for an explanation. I’m looking for things to make sense. While what Godzilla did was really cool, and I greatly enjoyed watching it while it happened, I kept expecting there to be a plausible reason offered for why he was doing it. Yeah, earlier in the movie they did mention something that might have somewhat explained it, but it was a very weak explanation, and didn’t quite explain exactly why he did certain things. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy an awesome fight scene as much as the next person, but I need for it to fit the story. I need for there to be a legitimate reason. To me, it doesn’t make sense to have fighting just for the sake of fighting, and cheapens the movie experience.
That being said, the acting in this film was very good. Bryan Cranston gives an amazing performance as Joe Brody, and I wish we would have had more of him in the film. Most people are saying there wasn’t enough Godzilla, which is true, but I’m saying there wasn’t enough Bryan Cranston. As for Aaron Taylor-Johnson, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about him playing the lead in this movie, and at first it was a weird transition to see him go from being Kick-Ass to being a family man, but he definitely pulled it off, and I thought he did a great job. I had a little trouble seeing Elizabeth Olsen as the loving wife. She looks so much like her sisters, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, that I just kept seeing Michelle from Full House. That’s not her fault though, and she did deliver a solid performance. By the end, I found myself genuinely caring about the Brody family.
One of my favorite scenes was the HALO jump that you see on the trailers. During the jump, we get to see from the perspective of Ford Brody, and it really puts you into the mindset of someone who is actually performing a jump in that situation – not only because of the jump itself, but because of the proximity to the action when the jump is made.
I think Gareth Edwards did a good job his first time directing a major Hollywood summer blockbuster film. He did the best he could with what he had to work with. It’s just too bad there wasn’t a stronger story supporting the film.
My rating: 7/10