directed by Gareth Edwards
(Warner Bros., 2014)

I'm not a Godzilla nut.

I couldn't tell you much about Godzilla, the original Japanese film and its various sequels, which I have vague memories of seeing some of when I was young. And, despite nearly universal disdain, I kind of enjoyed Godzilla, the 1998 version of the monster movie that starred Matthew Broderick as a scientist out of his league. The big lizard, if nothing else, looked a little more realistic and had a more plausible backstory than his prehistoric, rubber-suited predecessors.

So I didn't have a lot of preconceived notions when I watched Godzilla, the 2014 remake/reboot of the series.

But I can tell you I didn't like it.

The movie, directed by Gareth Edwards, fails to produce any characters to care about, or even who make much of an impression. As for the monsters -- Godzilla himself, looking much pudgier than I remember, plus a pair of mated MUTOs, one of which flies, while the other lays eggs -- I wish I could tell you they were cool, but their scenes took place mostly in darkness and you rarely get to see them clearly.

You see Godzilla only a little more clearly than the anonymous beastie in Cloverfield, and that's pretty bad. I can't imagine they were trying to "surprise" the audience with the monster's appearance, a la Alien and Jurassic Park, because it doesn't really work when everyone already knows pretty much what Godzilla looks like. There's no potential shock value there.

Maybe it was a cost-saving measure, cutting down on expensive CGI. I don't know, and I don't care. Just saying, if you cut corners on a monster blockbuster, don't cut them on the monster itself.

Godzilla (2014) accomplished only one thing with this release, and that's to make moviegoers nostalgic for Godzilla (1998). That, I guess, is a pretty neat trick.

review by
Tom Knapp

22 November 2014

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