For sixty years, Godzilla has been terrorizing theatres across the world. Remade by Gareth Edwards, “Godzilla” (2014) re-imagines the monster with the help of modern special effects and a talented cast. Relying on an awesome monster and lots of destruction, “Godzilla” offers very little else and does not legitimize its existence as a remake.
In 1999, scientists Dr. Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Dr. Graham (Sally Hawkins), working for Monarch, discover remnants of a massive beast and two pods at a dig site in the Phillipines. Finding that one pod has hatched, seismic activity registers at a Japanese nuclear plant where Joe (Bryan Cranston) and Sandra Brody (Juliette Binoche) work. Faced with the dangers of the destruction of the plant, Joe is forced to shut down the plant and spends the next fifteen years trying to understand the cause of the activity but appears insane to his grown son, Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). A military man constantly away from his family (Elizabeth Olsen and Carson Bolde), Ford specializes in disengaging bombs (foreshadowing…) but is forced to return to Japan to reign in his father. Joe has recognized the return of the previous, dangerous seismic activity, which brings him and his son to the attention of Dr. Serizawa. When a giant, bat-insect-like beast hatches from the ruins of the nuclear facility, Ford is questioned by the military and put to use when they chase the radiation-consuming beast. Meanwhile, Dr. Serizawa councils the military personnel, headed by Admiral Stenz (David Strathairn), to have confidence in the other mysterious giant awakened from the ocean, the Godzilla, to restore order to nature by killing the other creature, the MUTO.
That’s right; Godzilla is the hero that arises from the background. As far as characters go, it probably has just a little more screen time than Sally Hawkins’, which isn’t much. One might hope that the hint of its spiked spine in the water is a buildup leading to awesomeness, but Godzilla’s presence is surprisingly lackluster (even though it looks so awesome). The shots of the monster are full of cutaway shots to get human reaction.
Inexplicably, “Godzilla” focuses most attention on the human element without developing characters and even refers to a vague, flat moral that “Nature protects itself and keeps the balance without human involvement.” Director Gareth Edwards even wastes time on emphasizing shots in which children and animals are safe from destruction. For so much attention on the humans, there is no adrenaline, no laughs, and no genuine emotion; the characters are emotionless automatons other than the limited performances by Cranston and Watanabe. There is not a single relatable character, and most of their decisions are simply stupid (prime example: planes are constantly used to follow the creatures even though the humans learned that the monsters have an EMP power that shuts down the electricity and crashes all planes).
The visual narration contradicts Serizawa’s visionary understanding. With no humans worth rallying for, audiences will be bored waiting for a special effects payoff. The film’s only awesome contribution is a tremendous, powerful score from Alexandre Desplat.
Rating for “Godzilla:” D+
For more information on this film or to view its trailer, check www.imdb.com
“Godzilla” is playing all over Columbus, including at AMC Lennox, Easton, Dublin, and Grove City. For showtimes, see www.movietickets.com