May 17, 2014 by Vinnie Leduc
It’s back. For a new generation, it’s immediately and unequivocally awesome. For us, it’s officially our most anticipated movie of 2014. For you, you might be wondering if the new Godzilla is an excellent film. Maybe if you compare it to the previous American remake, Roland Emmerich’s much-maligned 1998 version. But no, director Gareth Edwards’ reboot is not quite excellent. However, it is definitely a great motion picture that stands tall, booms deafeningly, and does not go down without at least a ferocious fight, one that can rip your heart out as easily as it can knock you over.
It may show shades of an Emmerich disaster film, but this Godzilla abandons any campiness and swims in a sea of solemness instead. Of course there’s a chaotic aspect to the large-scale destruction, but each step there seems to be deliberate and carefully calculated by Edwards. So much so that it’s easy to see why the middle of his film seems considerably slower than its bookends. It’s gotta be related to Edwards’ decision to “cheat” us out of a few fights or attacks in order to build us up to the full revelation.
The middle hour or so doesn’t drag Godzilla down much, if any, overall though because Edwards has thrown in a few minor surprises along with some major action sequences here. You sandwich these parts in between one of the more emotionally powerful prologues among recent blockbusters and an outstanding finale that’ll have some people clapping and cheering aloud (can’t quite say the same about the epilogue though), and of course you’ll feel relative lulls in an otherwise spectacular summer show.
It goes without saying that the headliner of Godzilla is the eponymous creature. Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen
twin lead a full house of a human cast that also features multi-Emmy winner Bryan Cranston, who’s magnificent here. The rest of the principal cast is rounded out by a bunch of Oscar nominees (Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn, Juliette Binoche), but aside from providing lengthy upward stares of awe and your typical lame/fake military/scientist lines of dialogue meant to inform us of what’s going on, none of them are close to memorable.
What you will remember from Godzilla is what you’ve been waiting to see ever since the first epic teaser dropped. I wanted devastation, and I got it. And not just in the physical sense of seeing crumbling skyscrapers, crashed vehicles, and crushed people. I nearly shed a tear or two as well.
It’s easy to compare a behemoth like Godzilla to plenty of previous big-budget blockbusters, but we’ll go with the most recent similar one, last year’s giant monster mash. For our intents and purposes, Edwards’ Godzilla is like Pacific Rim with much better acting, a bit less action, more aftermath, and worse 3D.
Maybe I’ve been a bit swayed by catching this movie in one of the primary cities where it takes place and on a true IMAX screen for the first time since I saw Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, but I’d put Godzilla up there with the second Captain America and The Raid 2 as the action movies to beat this year. It’s a smashing good time from start to finish, and even the opening credits were some of the coolest I’ve ever seen, but don’t bother sticking around for the closing credits because there aren’t any extra scenes or stingers. Just leave the theater and take a break from all the mayhem you’ve soaked in. Godzilla gets 4.5 out of 5 stars.