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A Reel Life film section

Issue: Autumn 2014

Godzilla (2014) movie review

Immortal, Uncaring and Completely Unstoppable

So, Godzilla...

Gareth Edwards follows up the understated and wonderful Monsters with a reboot/remake/re-something of the eternal Japanese monster/hero/force of nature...

Mining on a Pacific Island breaks into a deep cavern untouched for millennia. Inside, are vast fossils and remains of huge creatures that may even pre-date the dinosaurs. A quick search shows that perhaps one of them isn't quite as dead as previously thought. The action then moves to a nuclear power plant in Japan (very topical), where something is registered on radar or sonar (I can never remember which) and is moving towards the facility at a steady pace. What follows is an emotion filled and horrifying event that feels all too real and terrifyingly accurate.

movie poster, Godzilla, Festivale film review; 220x330

Movie poster, Godzilla
Size Does Matter

Ali Kayn says:

Monster movies by definition put the monster front and centre. For me, I want to ride along with the characters, to be carried away by their hope and dreams, or their fears, conflicts or threats.

Godzilla, for me, was a 'sit back and watch' movie. I didn't feel the jeopardy of the protagonist and his family, and I wasn't on the edge of my seat hoping against hope that they would survive and be reunited. From that point of view I think the film failed.

But from Paul's review you can see that as a part of the monster movie genre it's met with enthusiasm, so it's all a question of target audience. Want monsters? Watch Godzilla.

It was very good, very entertaining. It's essentially the formulaic Hollywood blockbuster but with a bit of depth and some brains. The trick, I think, is to get a director that knows what they're doing and who will hire people for their acting ability. So what you get is a film that is pretty predictable as far as plot goes, but does it so well that you don't mind.

Bryan Cranston is typically brilliant (it's getting harder to believe he was the daft dad in Malcolm In The Middle), Aaron Taylor Johnson is sympathetic and understated (and when did he get so buff?) and Elizabeth Olsen is possibly the best young actor working today (and she looks utterly beautiful - sorry, I had to say it). However, David Strathairn doesn't have much to do and Ken Watanabe spends most of the film staring into the middle distance.

The scale of the film is huge, even before the monsters appear (yes, there's more than one) and the opening scenes in the nuclear power plant are deeply affecting (not least because I work in one). The themes of the film are there but never overwhelm the unfolding events. Climate change, nuclear testing, evolution and the insignificance of the human's all there if you want to look for it. There's also a real sense of horrific awe, the sort of thing you'd expect from a film of a H. P. Lovecraft story. Watanabe's character virtually states it, believing that the monsters in the film are almost like gods -- immortal, uncaring and completely unstoppable.

As for Godzilla, he looks amazing. Gareth Edwards takes time building up to full reveal and even then he teases for a while, showing monster fights through news footage and brief glimpses from characters points of view. It works really well, building anticipation and tying the fantastic in with comparable real life disasters. There are some real heart stopping moments and one or two fist pumping scenes (you'll know when you see it).

The 3D is subtle and one of the better examples of the style. In fact, it really helps in showing how utterly huge these things are.

The only negative is that it's a little light on story. It's essentially an extended chase scene and could benefit from slightly more character development. What's there is great but it sometimes gets lost in the huge spectacle. Perhaps more of how the destruction affects ordinary people and communities.

All in all, though, it's a wonderful start to the blockbuster season.

Add your comments

by Paul M. Feeney
(Paul on facebook)
Australian release 2014
For credits and official site details, see below
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Just the facts:

Title: Godzilla (2014)
Written by: Max Borenstein from a story by Dave Callaham
Directed by: Gareth Edwards
Running time: 123 min
Rating: M

The Players: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, David Strathairn

Official website:
IMDb entry

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