Godzilla: Long May he Roar
If you like movies with little to no story and a lot to excessive destruction, then Godzilla is for you! Frankly, I’m not at all surprised. These days, this is often what appeals to mass audiences; people like destruction and special effects. Story comes second to a behemoth monster wreaking havoc upon a city. Although the story is weak, Godzilla is an exceptionally well made film. Its noteworthy cinematography and impressive use of sound make for an exciting action flick. However, if you want to save $14.50 and see a better film, I recommend the 1998 Godzilla starring Matthew Broderick.
The start of the film takes us to the Philippines 15 years ago where two scientists are brought to a quarry to study a massive animal skeleton and two enormous eggs. One of the eggs has hatched, though, and so an unidentified creature has escaped into the world. At the Janjira nuclear plant near Tokyo, scientist, Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) and his wife look into recent seismic activity. Quite predictably, chaos ensues, and we are brought to present day.
Unfortunately, the bulk of the story follows Brody’s son, Ford, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson. I do not say unfortunately because I think Taylor-Johnson is a poor actor, he’s not. Have you seen him in Anna Karenina? Amazing. I say unfortunately because I do not give two craps about his character. Taylor-Johnson had no opportunity to really dig deep into his character because no depth was provided in the script. It’s sad that my favorite character is the animated dinosaur with no lines… The relationships in the story are weak between both Ford and his father and Ford and his wife. I felt more compassion between the two random, villainous monsters than I did between any of the humans.
Random, villainous monsters? Whatever do you mean? I was just as surprised as you may be. Nowhere in the trailer does it imply that Godzilla must battle two other really gross creatures. And so, we reach the limit of our story. Godzilla vs. MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism). The conflict is quite limited to that. I have found in most films similar to this, that at least one character will think he/she knows better than everyone else. Generally, it’s the military ignorantly ignoring the scientist who is far more knowledgeable. That is not the case in this film. In fact, the military leaders want to hear what the scientists have to say. In real life, I would hope this would happen, but in a film, when you don’t have characters to dislike this causes conflict and entertainment value to be lost.
Speaking of things that are lost in this film, let’s talk about diversity. I believe that every filmmaker has the responsibility to use his/her power to reach a vast audience to spread important messages that people will not receive any other way. Of course I do not mean that every film has to be about strong women or hunger in Africa. However, I think it is quite unacceptable these days, to produce a film consisting of almost only white males. The only strong female character in the film is on screen for about five minutes, and I can count on one hand the number of non-Caucasians who have a major role in the film. Nothing has to be said in the script about diversity. It is the simple placement of people other than white males into major roles that make enough of a statement. I think it is safe to say, Godzilla does not promote any type of progressive message.
While the story may be exceptionally weak, the production value is not. Buildings crashing down, a tsunami powering through the streets of Hawaii, planes falling from the sky; these are all images you can look forward to causing loud reactions from the audience. Visually, the piece is fantastic, but even more impressive is the use of sound throughout the film. I will spare you an in-depth sound analysis and just say that silence can be far more deafening than the loudest of sequences.
Since the visual effects are so realistic, so is the terror created by them. One thing I love about Marvel movies is the fact that terror is never used as a storytelling device. Marvel knows its target audience is a bit on the younger side. (I mean people from 1-100 see their movies, but you know what I mean.) Superheroes are meant to be people little kids can look up to, so naturally, little kids will go see the movie, thus proving the use of terror to be inappropriate. I see Godzilla in the same way as Marvel. It is a monster movie, practically a cartoon. I don’t think Godzilla is a hero character to be looked up to, but he is essentially a cartoon dinosaur. Therefore, little kids are likely to want to see the film, but I would absolutely never recommend that they do. Just as an example, in Hawaii, a tsunami rages through the streets, causing many people to die. It is mass terror, and our focus throughout this horrifying sequence is on a little girl. In short, the film could have been more ethically put together.
I am a writer. Naturally, I am inclined to scrutinize story and character more than anything. Thus, my disappointment in Godzilla. In 1998, director Roland Emmerich got it right with his version of Godzilla. The characters are charming and the story is strong. The same cannot be said for director Gareth Edwards’s. And let’s face it; Bryan Cranston has hair. How weird is that?
Opened in the US: May 16, 2014
Run Time 2:03
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Directed by Gareth Edwards. With Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe. The world's most famous monster is pitted against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity's scientific arrogance, threaten our very existenc
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