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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Movie Review: "Godzilla"

Godzilla is back on the big screen for the first time in 16 years.  His last outing in Roland Emmerich's 1998 version was a box office smash but a critical dud.

Although the new 2014 reboot is much better, it is still far from perfect.  To start with, the title character isn't seen in all his glory until about 90 minutes into the film.  We get teased with his tail or some scales but actually seeing the one and only Godzilla takes way too long.  This made no sense whatsoever because Godzilla, like King Kong, is an iconic movie creature and since we already know what he looks like then why not get him on screen as soon as possible? This was made all the more frustrating by the fact that the we get to see Godzilla's adversaries, MUTO, throughout almost the entire movie.

Once onscreen the fighting begins as Godzilla attempts to destroy both MUTO monsters and save as much of humanity as he can.  The problem is there's no real connection between Godzilla and the humans. I get that Godzilla isn't going to give a thumbs up or a wink - that of course would be cheesy - but there isn't one element in the entire film that let's you know Godzilla is there to help. To truly care about him as the hero, the screenwriters needed to give the audience something to grab on to in that regard.

The storyline is thin: Godzilla has been living under ground (since before the dinosaurs) and has been waiting for his chance to rise from beneath to save the world. Oh well ... it is a big summer popcorn movie so "suspending your disbelief" comes along with your Coca-Cola and Junior Mints.

The choreography of the Godzilla VS MUTO fights are sluggish at best. Couldn't they have done something cool?  Something exciting?  How about a round house kick or an over the shoulder flip?  Instead we get slow wrestling and the only true excitement comes when Godzilla uses his laser/fire breath which is almost at the end of the movie.

The cast is top notch with Ken Watanabe (Batman Begins), Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass), Elizabeth Olsen, David Strathairn and Bryan Cranston (Argo, Breaking Bad) but sadly there is little for them to do except add exposition and give inquisitive looks.

Technically the movie is a 10.   The special effects are stunning except for Bryan Cranston's wigs which look ridiculous. You can create 3 monsters fighting in the street of San Francisco and yet bad wigs still look horrible.

Maybe Godzilla is simply meant to be campy.  I'll take a guy in a suit crushing miniature houses in front of a green screen any day over this big budget summer action movie.  It is seriously lacking the goods.

Drumroll please... 5 out of 10 drumsticks!!!

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