Sometimes there are no words to describe how bad something is. That isn’t the case with “Godzilla.” Disappointing…boring…repetitive…dumb…those are just a few words that come to mind. How did this film screw things up so horribly?
Directed by Gareth Edwards, with screenplay by Max Borenstein and story by Dave Callaham, “Godzilla” is a new take on earlier 1950s versions. In their own way, the original 1954 Japanese film and 1956 Japanese-America production,“Godzilla, King of the Monsters!” are classics and deservedly so. Such is not the case with the 2014 “Godzilla.”
The movie begins promisingly enough as scientists Ishiro Serizawa and Vivienne Graham (Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins) land in the Philippines in 1999 to consult on irregularities happening in a mine. From the Philippines we move to Japan and the home of husband and wife scientists, Joe and Sandra Brody (Bryan Cranston and Juliette Binoche) and their young son, Ford. Joe and Sandra work for the same mining company, with Joe’s position more cerebral in nature. He spots something on a screen and then…The film jumps ahead 15 years and “something” is happening in Japan…. Serizawa and Graham are still in business and are now investigating what has happened there. This is when we get to hear the respected Watanabe say the immortal line, “We call him Godzilla.” Da da dum. We, the scientists and the various militia make our way to Hawaii (it doesn’t stand a chance), Las Vegas and San Francisco…trying to track the giant lizard and other entities and save the world.
I wasn’t expecting a work of art, but I was expecting to be entertained. The trailers seemed interesting and the cast…what a cast. “Godzilla” boasts a terrific cast of actors…not all of them household names, but all of them solid actors with many awards to their names (in addition to those mentioned the film includes Elizabeth Olsen,David Strathairn and Aaron Taylor-Johnson). What happened? I’m not sure that it would have mattered, but some actors don’t make it beyond the first half hour. The remaining actors have some absolutely horrific dialogue to orate. Perhaps this is the reason for these high quality actors…lesser actors would have required many more takes to say the lines without cracking up and would have cost the production more money in the end. In that regard Ken Watanabe must be singled out for trying to save “Godzilla” single-handedly.
Bad dialogue aside, there is something very odd about this “Godzilla.” It seems very old-school. Perhaps it’s the 50s horror-type music. Maybe it’s the over-use of the military in an old-fashioned manner. Or it could be that so much of the movie has a black and white feel to it. The music, militia and color are not necessarily bad. The bigger crime is that these elements are not used imaginatively.
I can’t imagine spending the extra money to see “Godzilla” in IMAX or 3-D. Instead the filmmakers should be paying us to see this mess. “Godzilla” and its fans deserved better.