WARNING: This review will contain spoilers!

The simplicity of Godzilla is why we love the giant lizard. Big monster stomps on buildings and destroys bad/evil monsters … it’s just good/fun stuff. However, beyond the simplicity of that approach, we need aesthetics. The monster has to look cool, and Godzilla has always looked awesome.

Godzilla (2014) does not disappoint in terms of aesthetics. Let’s face it, Godzilla looked great to begin with or we wouldn’t still be talking about him 60 years later … but an upgrade with modern tech is okay – as long as the spirit of the character remains intact, and you do get some great, realistic, scenes of Godzilla roaring and doing that thing giant monsters do: destroying everything with glee.

The look, I would say is definitely an improvement from the 1998 film with Mathew Broderick, so we’re good.

Now, beyond the general visuals, how does this film stand-up?

An A+ rating would mean, this film is perfect. Clearly, it is not.

The filmmakers made one of the most obvious (and ongoing annoying) mistakes in the history of monster-making.

The monster doesn’t get enough screen time. So, there goes the A+ rating.

I understand that science-fiction films have want to “explain the science” and whatnot, but truly, most of us viewers don’t really give a damn how Godzilla came to be or why. All of that, as I’ve explained with many films, could be addressed in the opening credits.

Btw, the opening credits for Godzilla are great, and they essentially do explain how the monster came to be, with an interesting montage of radioactive bombing, etc., but this only explains Godzilla 1954, and therefore, you have to be prepared for a new lengthy and somewhat complicated description of how the new beast came to be.

Consequently, this movie loses its “A” rating for too much scientific mumbo jumbo.

Just like we wanted the Incredible Hulk stomping on shit and screaming: “Hulk smash!” so goes Godzilla. We want epic monster battles intermixed with punk rock go-go dancers. Is that too much to ask?

This brings us to the lack of humor in Godzilla. For me, if any movie takes itself too seriously, it becomes boring and actually sillier than a film that uses humor wisely. Balance is what we’re looking for. Remember, Godzilla is a story about a mutant dinosaur destroying stuff. Okay? You don’t have to spend hours trying to rationalize that. Just have fun.

So now we’re down to a “B+” for lack of humor.

Okay, let’s talk about the cast. The main face you see marketed (aside from Godzilla himself) is Bryan Cranston. Obviously, his popularity from Breaking Bad was the main factor in his casting and image-use in marketing, yet, he’s not exactly the human star of the film.

He dies in a fairly ambiguous scene where, not Godzilla, but the bad/insect monsters are tearing things up.

The star from that point on is the son of that character, played by English actor, Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Johnson does a good job, but I do have a bit of negative bias against foreign actors pretending to be American. Puts Americans out of work, right? Anyway, no big deal there; as I said, he does a good job, and his wife as played by Elizabeth Olsen does a really solid job of playing the attractive blonde wife. Again, this is a monster movie, and you need at least one hot babe.

Sally Hawkins, on the other hand, sorry, I’m just not a fan. Another English actor casting, and I really have no idea why. Although, I was pleased to see her role end early in the film.

So, due to the unevenness of Cranston’s role, I’m going to have to go from “B+” to “B,” and that’s not bad for a film inspired from the “B Movie” genre.

Now that we have a letter grade in place, let me tell you that there are some truly great and redeeming scenes in this monster epic.

I was almost afraid that Godzilla would not use his atomic fire breath, however, you will not be disappointed. When he kills the bad monster insect thingy by blasting fire into its mouth and then ripping off the monster’s head – it is truly a moment of greatness in the Godzilla franchise.

All right, well, that’s pretty much it; if you’re interested in Godzilla at all, you should definitely see this film, and see it in 3-D. You have to be patient with the pacing of the plot leading up to your monster moments, but for the most part, it’s all visually appealing, well-acted, and hey, it’s Godzilla.

Opening weekend went very well. They’re almost at the $200,000,000 mark, so get ready for the sequel, which I am confident will have much more ‘zilla.

Thanks for reading on Mystery Island.


"Godzilla (2014) Review" by Bradley Mason Hamlin
© 2014 Mystery Island Publications.
Published May 19, 2014.
All rights reserved.