Origins of Godzilla
Director: Gareth Edwards
Writers: Max Borenstein, Dave Callaham
Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, CJ Adams, Ken Watanabe, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Carson Bolde, Sally Hawkins, Juliette Binoche, David Strathairn, Richard T. Jones, Victor Rasuk, Patrick Sabongui, Jared Keeso, Luc Roderique, James Pizzinato
Synopsis: The world's most famous monster is pitted against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity's scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence
I'm half Chinese, so I'm NOT being a racist when I say it's funny when an Asian guy says this...
8.3 / 10
- Bryan Cranston's performance was simply excellent in this movie. He's arguably the best part of about this feature.
- The slow build up to Godzilla actually helps the movie build it's suspense nicely.
- Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen have great chemistry together, as a couple.
- Aaron Taylor-Johnson straight man no nonsense military attitude meshes well with Bryan Cranston's emotionally driven performance.
- Godzilla and Kaiji monster designs are very realistic, and unique.
- CGI and special effects are nicely done
- Single camera cinematography approach helps the movie feel like a larger than life kind of film.
- Bryan Cranston was falsely advertised as the lead actor for this film, and he was killed off after the first thirty minutes; leaving out arguably the best actor out of most of the movie.
- 3-D conversion is lousy, and doesn't show up well because of the dark settings throughout this movie.
- Suffers from a few pacing issues, as some scenes tend to drag longer than they should
- Aaron's character isn't written particularly well, and he comes off as not being all that interesting; unless he's interacting with his father or wife during the film.
You want to know what the irony is about this movie? With a franchise like "Godzilla" where majority of his films are known for their campiness and fun monster fights, you'd expect nothing more than a turn off your brain affair like the majority of "Godzilla" films, in the past. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying all "Godzilla" movies are like that, as many could argue that the original "Gojira" had a lot of dramatic weight to it, as it served as an allegory for the dangers of nuclear arms. However, when it comes to "Godzilla" in general, it seems like the stereotype among most mainstream audiences is that he's a character known mostly for his sillier aspects rather than the serious weight "Gojira" represented.
And, you had "Amazing Spider-Man 2" that came out earlier this year, as it featured a character that's been known as being arguably the most relatable comic book character of all time. Whenever people think of Spider-Man comics, people tend to think about the dramatic weight many of his stories feature.
Yet, it's funny because "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" turned out to be the movie that was the light fun hearted campy adventure that you have to turn off your brain to enjoy. Whereas a franchise like "Godzilla" that's known for it's cheesiness, the new reboot turned out be the one that carried that strong dramatic weight to it.
To be honest, i can see why some people wouldn't like this movie, as it's not what you'd expect from a "Godzilla" film. After all, most people that talk about Godzilla usually bring up the epic monster battles, and sillier aspects to it. Very few people (if any) boast about the stories each of the movies present. Therefore, it's really a matter of how you prefer to have your Godzilla. If you're expecting a light hearted campy adventure that features tons of monster battles, then you probably won't like this movie.
Hell, if you're expecting this movie to be a light hearted monster mash in ilk of "Pacific Rim", then you'll definitely be disappointed. The "Godzilla" reboot may not be what most people would have expected, but does that necessarily mean it's a bad film? Let's get into that now shall we.
The film starts off with a government scientist named Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston), who discovers a series of tremors coming from below Japan's surface. He sends his wife along with a team of other scientists to check it out. Sadly, due to a series of events, his wife is killed during the investigation. Needless to say, he hasn't gotten over his wife's death since the incident happen. Fast forward years later, his son has moved on to join the military; raising a family of his own.
Meanwhile, Joe has become obsessed over the events that took place, as he's struck with guilt about how he unknowingly sent his wife to die on that fateful day. The government has gone through great lengths to cover it up, as it makes Joe look like a conspiracy nut. Hell, his own son practically wants nothing to do with him because of his obsession over the government covering up something that might've been the cause of his wife's death so many years ago.
Due a series of unlikely events, Joe's son discovers that maybe his old man wasn't so crazy after all. As it turns out, there was something that the government was hiding on that day. Something that could potentially destroy the entire world, as our means of defense are practically useless against this sinister new threat. With little hope, our fate might be in the hands a creature that mankind may not be so quick to trust. Perhaps Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) had a good point when he said so eloquently, "The arrogance of man is thinking that nature is within our control...when it's really the other way around."
I would go into further detail about this film's story, but part of the movie's charm is finding out all it's intricate little secrets for yourself. Maybe that was the main reason Warner Bros. clouded this film's plot in such secrecy.
Like the original"Jaws", you never see "Godzilla" right away in this feature, as there's a lot of build up toward his first appearance. The focus of the movie is primarily on the human characters' reaction to the situation at hand, and there's quite a bit of exposition that leads up to Godzilla's first outing.
Another thing that might anger some fans is that Bryan Cranston isn't the main focus of this film either. No, that honor goes to Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who happens to be playing his son in the movie. It's a bit of a bait and switch move that might annoy some viewers, as the trailers did suggest that Bryan Cranston would be the lead. However, it looks like WB took a page from M. Night Shymalan, when he made audiences think Will and Jaden Smith would share equal screen time, when you watch the trailers to "After Earth." Yet when you see the actual film, you realize that isn't the case. Fortunately, this film is nowhere near the disaster that "After Earth" was....thank god. However, I wouldn't go into this thinking Cranston is going to be lead character, as he pretty much dies during the first thirty minutes of the film.
Don't get me wrong, Aaron Taylor-Johnson does a fine job playing the hard nose military straight man in this picture, but he's not all that interesting on his own. It's not Aaron's fault because we know he can play a sympathetic character like he's shown in the "Kick-Ass" movies. But here, his character is such a straight no nonsense individual that it's hard to really connect with his character emotionally at times. In fact, the only few scenes we ever find ourselves getting attached to his character is when he's interacting some of his loved ones like his wife, and his father. When we see him interact with those people, we can see the inner turmoil his character goes through; particularly when we see him with Bryan Cranston, whom arguably has the best performance in this movie.
Not only is Cranston able to bring a certain gravitas to "Godzilla", but he's arguably the most sympathetic character throughout this film. Whenever Cranston cries about his wife, you can't help but feel genuinely sorry for the guy. HIs motivations in this film are very interesting, and quite compelling to say the least. In fact, it's a shame he wasn't the focus of this movie, as he was clearly the best part.
As for Elizabeth Olsen, I thought she did a great job playing Aaron's wife in this feature. The two of them had a great rapport in "Godzilla", which might make seeing them in next year's "Avengers 2" kind of creepy considering they're playing brother and sister in that flick....
However, I'm sure most people will want to ask about Godzilla's fights in this film. And for the most part, I should warn readers if monster fights is all you look for in a "Godzilla" movie, then you'll probably be disappointed. The film pretty much teases audiences with a couple of openings where it looks like we'll see some epic monster battles, but it shifts away most of the time to what the human characters are doing, while the fight is taking place. In fact, we never see a full on monster fight until the very end of the feature. Therefore, if you're looking for a classic Kaiji showdown, then I'll have to advise you to check out some of "Godzilla's" older movies. Or, you can simply check out "Pacific Rim" if that's all you're craving after.
To be honest, I personally didn't mind this at all. It was a nice set up for Godzilla not to be shown right away. Plus, it adds a certain level of realism and gravitas to the franchise that the 1998 reboot lacked. Although Aaron's character isn't written particularly well, the story still manages to be interesting. Adding in just the right amount of exposition, character development, and drama that draws audiences right into the story.
The monster are very realistic, while still staying true to their original appearances. Although one could argue that the 1998 Godzilla was probably the most realistic rendition of the character (in terms of appearances), this new reboot combines the appearance of the original Godzilla with a more modernized look that's surprisingly faithful to the original character. I won't spoil it for my readers, but if you can imagine a realistic version of the original "Godzilla", then you might have a general idea on what to expect.
The CGI rendering is very impressive to say the least. The movements of the Kaiji monsters themselves move fluently, and you can see the fight with Godzilla very clearly at the end; in spite of the dark setting. I especially loved the choice in cinematography, as it seems like Gareth Edwards chose to use a single camera to capture all the action; hence giving it that larger than life feel to it whenever we see Godzilla show up.
Overall, I found "Godzilla" to be surprisingly compelling. It's definitely deeper than most Kaiji movies featuring giant monsters beating the living s*** out of each other, as this one has a lot of heart to it. Not only is the story set up rather well, but it manages to portray "Godzilla" in a grounded way that it's almost baffling on how well Gareth Edwards was able to pull it off.
Granted, the film does suffer from a lot of pacing issues, as some of the scenes tend to drag at times. However, it's never enough to ruin the movie.
In the end, I would definitely recommend seeing this feature, as it has a lot to offer. However, I should warn readers if you do choose to see this film, then I'd suggest seeing the regular version because the 3D conversion in this film isn't all that great. Plus, most of the fight scenes take place at night, so the 3D doesn't show up that well. Other than that, "Godzilla" may not be what most audiences expected, but it's definitely worth checking out.
Bobcat Goldwait as Godzilla
AVGN's review of the old Godzilla games (Warning: Contains Adult Language and Alcohol use. Parental Discretion is advised)
© 2014 Steven Escareno