Thursday, May 22, 2014


There are moderate spoilers in this review.

Godzilla should need no introduction - he's the giant monster who stomps on Tokyo. In this particular version, there is no Tokyo-stomping. That portion of the plot instead takes places in San Francisco, about which I will have more to say later.  The parts of this movie which actually involve Godzilla are quite fun. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the two hour run-time deals instead with a lot of stupid humans doing stupid things which matter not the slightest bit (with one brief exception).

The good news is that the monster effects are quite good. Unlike the 1998 Godzilla, this one clearly draws design cues from the original Japanese man-in-a-rubber-suit Godzillas. The other monsters are not very interesting design-wise, but they are very well rendered.

The bad news is that almost everything involving a human on screen is a waste of time. The main (human) character is Ford Brody, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Ford (who shares nothing but a name with Ford Prefect, sadly), is the son of Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston), a nuclear engineer whose power plant is crushed by the bad monsters. Joe has only one motivation - to find out what really happened to his power plant. Ford has only two motivations - to help his father and to return to his family. Neither of them make any good decisions involving these motivations. The only function Ford's family serves is to provide an excuse for Ford to travel to San Francisco for the final battle.

The best human character is, unsurprisingly, Dr Serizawa (Ken Watanabe, who can actually act). Unfortunately, he exists almost entirely to provide exposition, so most of the time we are stuck with the Brodies who, as previously mentioned, do only one useful thing in the entire movie, and that appears to be an afterthought on the character's part.

To be fair, most of the terrible decisions are made by other characters, mostly the military types. As an example, they apparently think it is a good idea to sail large and expensive warships with lots of people on board directly on top of a really big monster with which they cannot communicate, and which is not clearly friendly (or even particularly aware of their presence). They also make very little effort to evacuate San Francisco, despite knowing that monsters are converging there rather a long time before the battle happens.

In addition to these in-world logical problems, there are a few other things which make no sense. A bus of refugees escapes North from San Francisco using the Golden Gate Bridge - and ends up at the Oakland Coliseum. What? It would be both easier and safer to drive to Sears Point. Also, no one makes much of a fuss about detonating a large nuclear device right next to the city.

As a movie with a coherent plot, this is not a success. As a monster movie it is actually pretty decent, though it could definitely use more monster-screen-time. As a Godzilla movie, it is quite good, though it cost ten times too much to make.

Performance: 1.5/5
Plot: 1.5/5
Production: 4/5
Overall: 2.5/5
Bechdel: Fail
Reverse-Bechdel: Pass
Mako Mori: Fail
What are these?

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
2. Lone Survivor
3. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
4. The Wind Rises
5. The Lego Movie
6. Lust For Love
7. The Grand Budapest Hotel
8. Pompeii
9. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
10. I, Frankenstein
11. Monuments Men
12. Knights of Badassdom
13. Divergent
14. Brick Mansions
15. 300: Rise of an Empire
16. Godzilla
17. RoboCop
18. Winter's Tale
19. Transcendence
20. Noah
21. The Legend of Hercules
22. Need For Speed
23. 3 Days to Kill


  1. I have issues with the fact that the only things filmed here were establishing shots. As it is in most movies that feature SF. Wish this city would offer better tax breaks to studios, so we can have more production here!!

  2. This felt like a throwback to the old japanese movies. I liked Brian Cranston in this, though his death was abrupt, and I would have rather seen more of him than his son (who I didn't even know was in movie until right before I saw it). Kickass doesn't have the presence to carry the movie as the leading man, but that also might be because of bad character motivation/writing.

    While a lil more Godzilla wouldn't have hurt, his absence was deliberate to punch up the climactic reveal (His atomic breath attack made me grin like a dummy).

    I would compare Godzilla to the Hulk in the Avengers. Everybody loves em in small bursts, but in an entire movie it's difficult to find them stuff to do for 2 hours. If nothing else, it leaves the audience wanting more.