For the sake of simplicity, Gareth Edwards’ latest film, Godzilla, is excellent at what it attempts. If you want to see this iconic monster in contemporary CGI, then you’ve got your money’s worth. But, as unfortunate as it may be for some, a movie is not all about the special effects.
Resonating with other recent science-fiction action films (Man of Steel comes to mind), Edwards’ newest edition adds a few intriguing plot twists that would otherwise be unexpected in a film such as Godzilla. In the film, the Brody family’s life in Japan is shaken when the nuclear power plant near their home breaks down and collapses. As the film progresses, the protagonist, Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), and his family’s lives become increasingly chaotic as amassing nuclear events uncover a hidden truth about the past and ancient creatures that have, coincidentally, been uncovered by the Americans and which have a tendency to travel to the United States (a popular destination for creatures out to destroy the world).
However, despite the common clichés that are found and are often tolerated, the film may leave some with a false sentiment of resolution causing the film to almost become another tiresome addition to the ‘feel good’ genre. With a mix of ‘coincidences’ (though not to the extreme likes of World War Z), despite how dire the situation amasses to on occasion, it manages to resolve itself. While this is pleasant on occasion, and potentially believable, Godzilla relies too strongly on this tactic leaving the audience somewhat cheated.
For any Breaking Bad fans, you’d be inclined to raise an eyebrow at the appearance of our infamous drug-lord in this new blockbuster. Though, you’d be pleasantly surprised to remember how versatile Bryan Cranston truly is. Conversely, Ken Watanabe’s performance and character is nothing short of expected. Similar to his performance in such films as Inception and The Last Samurai, Watanabe provides a character believably antagonistic until circumstances provide an opportunity to illustrate the contrary. Alongside Cranston and Watanabe, Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s solid performance keeps the audience convinced, even when the script is lacking.
Let’s be honest here, this movie IS about the special effects. Evidently, expectations can compromise for the inevitable shortcomings. While the script is on par with maintaining the momentum of the film and offers a few iconic Cranston moments, it’s far from spectacular. On a subtler level, neither was the soundtrack. Aside from the ominous music found in the film trailer and a fraction of the film itself, you’d be inclined to believe you were watching an old classic, not a 2014 blockbuster, solely based on the soundtrack. While neither the soundtrack nor the script break the movie, excessive wasted potential ensued.
Despite these shortcomings, Godzilla lays claim to a central motif increasingly applicable to today. As Doctor Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) states in the film, “The arrogance of men is thinking nature is in their control and not the other way around. Let them fight.” This concept gradually builds throughout the film reminding us of our frailty, helplessness and, most of all, arrogance and pride.
Pitfalls taken into consideration, let’s remember that films exist that may lack in numerous areas, but still portray themselves amazingly on the big screen. Godzilla is no exception and while it lets the audience down on occasion, it keeps the audience in awe of its special effects and fast-paced storyline.
Film: Godzilla (2014)
Leading cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston & Ken Watanabe
Director: Gareth Edwards
Running time: 123 minutes