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Vault Movie Review: "Godzilla"

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 5/16/2014

Theatrical Release: 5/16/2014

Synopsis

Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) was a supervisor at a nuclear power plant in Japan when seismic activity disturbed the main reactor of the plant. In order to stop a nuclear catastrophe, Joe was left with no other option than to send his wife Sandra (Juliette Binoche) in with a team of technicians to calm the reactor before it blew. Tragedy unfortunately followed, and it claimed the life of Joe’s wife.

It is now 15 years later, and Joe and Sandra’s son has grown up. Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) hears word that his father has gotten himself into trouble. Joe Brody has been spending the last 15 years trying to learn what caused the mysterious seismic activity all those years ago. When Ford arrives to get his father out of trouble, Joe gets the answer he was looking for. Massive, monstrous, city-destroying monsters emerge and threaten humanity's existence. Ford has found himself in the middle of the action, and he hopes to find a way to kill the monsters, but experts begin to suspect that there is one monster that may be on humanity’s side.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Joe Brody (+4pts)

Joe Brody Screentime (-4pts)

Godzilla (+6pts)

Ford Brody (-5pts)

Monster Action (+6pts)

Godzilla Screentime (-6pts)

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Pro: Joe Brody (+4pts)

Bryan Cranston is a proven actor both dramatically and comedically, and this movie came out in 2014, right on the heels of his incredible run as Walter White on Breaking Bad. Bryan Cranston has proven he can crush anything writers throw at him, so I knew he would be one of this movie’s strengths, even before seeing the movie. Then I saw the movie, and I was unsurprised to learn that I was right. In this movie he played Joe Brody, a man suffering and trying desperately to find answers after the tragic death of his wife. In the beginning of the movie, Joe Brody remained relatively cool-headed, he made the right decisions, but he still suffered a great loss. His story and the actor playing him made it really easy to care about the character. It got me pretty invested in this movie, right from the start, as his tragic story fueled the emotional heart of this movie, and I desperately wanted to see him find the answers he was looking for.

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Con: Joe Brody Screentime (-4pts)

I liked what they did with Joe Brody’s story in this movie. It was certainly surprising, making it impactful, and it amplified the sense of danger throughout the movie. The filmmakers shifted directions from Joe Brody, and while this was an interesting choice that could have worked really well, I thought they did it too soon. The result was the filmmakers having a great lead actor with Bryan Cranston, only to hardly use him. They also had a main character whose story the audience was invested in, only to shift away from him pretty early on and focus on a different main character who was far less interesting—but I will get into that later. My issue was not with what they did, but it was instead with when they did it and not having a new main character who was anywhere near as interesting as the Joe Brody.

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Pro: Godzilla (+6pts)

When Godzilla was on screen, it was great. The filmmakers effectively built up anticipation by making us wait to see the monster we all watched the movie wanting to see, as they had us dying to see Godzilla. They definitely took this way too far—and I will get into that later—but making us wait made the scenes in which we actually saw him a lot more exciting. On top of that, we got to see everything one watches a Godzilla movie hoping to see. We heard his iconic scream, we saw him fighting monsters, we saw him breathing fire, and we saw him doing all of this in large cities with plenty of things to break. He was not on screen much, but when he was, he looked great and the action awesome.

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Con: Ford Brody (-5pts)

Ford Brody was the new main character that took things over once the filmmakers shifted attention away from his father, and Ford Brody was a far less interesting character. With Joe Brody, I felt the main character’s connection to the monstrous things that were happening. He was tied to finding answers due to the tragedy he suffered. I felt his connection to the monsters, and that made him feel like a relevant human character in a movie full of monsters. With Ford Brody, none of that was true.

Ford suffered the same tragedy as his father, but he was very young when it happened, so his emotional connection to it was not nearly as deeply rooted. It felt like he was far less invested in what was happening, so I was less invested myself. Then there was the fact that he was around at all. I get him showing up to help his father, but beyond that there was no reason for him to stick around—other than the simple fact that he was the new main character. This made the uninteresting main character also feel both irrelevant and inconsequential. The bait and switch was a good idea, but the filmmakers failed to provide a strong enough new main character to capitalize on that idea.

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Pro: Monster Action (+6pts)

Godzilla was not the only monster in this movie, so while he was not in the movie a ton, there were other monsters providing destruction, and this helped keep things exciting. Monsters destroyed cities, monsters killed plenty of people, and monsters fought each other. The filmmakers had this weird idea to consistently cut away from the exciting action to instead show news footage of the action or show civilians reacting to it. Nonetheless, this movie had the destructive, catastrophic monster action that fans will be hoping for. It was great when the filmmakers actually showed it on screen, but I definitely would have liked to have seen a lot more of it.

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Con: Godzilla Screentime (-6pts)

In a movie called Godzilla, we really should have seen a lot more of Godzilla than we did. The filmmakers clearly wanted to build anticipation, to have us dying to see him. However, there is a fine line between building anticipation and failing to deliver what audiences want to see, and the filmmakers of this movie blew way past that line. They started by not having Godzilla make an appearance for a good chunk of the movie. Then he showed up, but we were only shown brief, partial, obscured glimpses of him. Then he finally showed up in a big way, and the filmmakers spent half the time cutting away from him to show humans reacting to him.

People go to see a movie called Godzilla hoping to see Godzilla—crazy, I know. For the most part, the filmmakers failed to deliver, and it was almost like the filmmakers were messing with us. There were honestly moments when I half expected someone to turn the lights on, come into the theater laughing, and tell us that it was all a prank and that they were about to show us the real movie. Unfortunately, what I was watching was the real movie, and it was the product of some questionable decision making.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: C+ (76pts)

Pretty much everyone who saw this movie will agree that this movie showed far too little Godzilla. The filmmakers effectively built anticipation toward seeing the iconic monster, but there is a fine line between building anticipation and disappointing fans, and the filmmakers blew way past that line. Godzilla did not show up until a good way through the movie, and when he finally did, the filmmakers kept him obscured or out of frame. Then when it came to the action, the filmmakers kept cutting to news footage of the monster mayhem and they kept cutting to people on the ground reacting to it, rather than just show the monsters doing their thing.

It became obvious that the filmmakers did not have the time to render all the CGI necessary to show the monsters on screen for long. Rather than delay the movie, giving themselves more time to bring their monsters to the screen the right way, they chose instead to avoid showing their monsters as much as possible. In a movie called Godzilla, that was definitely the wrong call. The filmmakers also had a great lead actor with Bryan Cranston, and they had an interesting character story around him, but they shifted the story away from that character, and instead focused on the character's far less interesting and far less relevant son. The movie certainly was not all bad. The action that was in here was pretty cool, and there was plenty of chaos to keep things feeling at least somewhat exciting. Unfortunately, keeping the iconic Godzilla on the back burner, showing the monster action sparingly, and focusing so heavily on an uninteresting human character made this a pretty disappointing movie.

Comments

Movie Beasts (author) from MA on April 07, 2021:

Thank you!

Nick Cavuoti from Columbia, MD on April 07, 2021:

Nice write up!

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