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Movie Review ‘Godzilla’ (2014)

The original Godzilla was a dark film about the atomic bomb, in which a monster destroys everything in sight, and leaves little room for hope. It was a cathartic experience for a Japanese audience; a great unstoppable force is causing destruction, and man is helpless to contain it, so they largely accept it. Riddled with metaphor, the film was Japan’s reaction to a horrible war crime that destroyed two cities and caused the death of millions of innocent people. Godzilla then spawned a plethora of sequels, most of which abandoned the serious tone in favor of men in silly costumes…

Review Overview

Overall Quality

Summary : In short, Godzilla is a disaster.

User Rating: 2.76 ( 56 votes)
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The original Godzilla was a dark film about the atomic bomb, in which a monster destroys everything in sight, and leaves little room for hope. It was a cathartic experience for a Japanese audience; a great unstoppable force is causing destruction, and man is helpless to contain it, so they largely accept it. Riddled with metaphor, the film was Japan’s reaction to a horrible war crime that destroyed two cities and caused the death of millions of inGodzilla Screen1nocent people.

Godzilla then spawned a plethora of sequels, most of which abandoned the serious tone in favor of men in silly costumes fighting each other over the fate of the world, with the audience rooting for the now-likeable Godzilla. Typically the stories involved some monster menace wreaking havoc, and our scaly anti-hero would emerge from his slumber to kick some dopey-looking shrimp-monster’s ass. Needless to say, these movies are loved largely only for their “B” charm.

So, which take does this new 2014 Godzilla remake go with? The simple answer is that it goes with the latter, all the while attempting to capture the tone of the former. The result is a monstrous disaster, culminating in a film with a script too weak to sell you on either its philosophy or its monster fights. Godzilla is neither smart nor fun, and considering the deceptive quality of the film’s trailer, it ends up being one of the biggest disappointments in modern memory.

If you went into this movie expecting just to be blown away by the destructive spectacle, know that you’re not alone. All Godzilla had to do was treat my eyes to some expensive chaos, and I would have lauded its escapist glory. Instead, the action is pushed second to expository dialogue, and a false sense of deeper value that the film seems obsessed with expressing over and over again, determined to make you believe that there’s something deeper here… Are you listening? This isn’t just a movie about a giant lizard fighting two bat monsters, and you’re going to acknowledge that. Dammit.

By the way, I’ve already summed up the story in its entirety – large bat-like monsters known as “Mutos” appear from the ground, which awakens Godzilla from his eternal slumber. He then hunts them down and battles them to the death someplace outside of San Francisco. Apparently this is Godzilla’s divine purpose, as we’ve learned in countless other films that the young me loved and the adult me never needs to see again.

We’re told that Godzilla is some force of nature that brings balance to the world, and I guess, somehow, we’re supposed to see his power as the counter-balance to the arrogance of man – at least, that’s what the film tells us, using some very dramatic dialogue at that. In reality, it’s just about Godzilla breathing fire at bat monsters — nothing more.

There’s a bizarre disconnect between the excessive expository dialogue and the action on screen. We are taken hostage by scene after scene that features men in rooms explaining what’s going on and alluding to a deeper philosophical undertone. Yet, the entire premise of the film is so asinine that there’s zero room for metaphorical messages. Any attempt to trick me into believing there’s anything below the surface feels superficial and shallow, if not downright laughably idiotic.

Part of the problem is that all of the human characters are one-dimensional archetypes, not even worthy of being named let alone thought about on an empathetic level. The cast features an overzealous military commander who’s first and only plan is force (David Strathairn), a mad scientist whose crazy theory happens to be right (Bryan Cranston), and a doctor who studies the monster and disagrees with brash military action (Ken Watanabe). Somehow, I’m sure all of these guys sound familiar to you. Throw in a family that inexplicably manages to be at the center of every moment of suspense, and you have yourself the most forgettable movie you’ve already seen, only this time it happens to come with CGI creatures.

I will give credit where credit is due: The special effects are great. The scenes of destruction, and of nature reclaiming cities, create a sublime aesthetic that’s super cool to see. But it all takes a back seat to the insane babbling of these human characters, who are way less interesting than the lizard and his bat nemeses.

In short, Godzilla is a disaster. It can’t decide if it’s a human melodrama, a deeply-philosophical exploration of human war culture, or a summer popcorn-flick designed to provide base-level fun. In the end, it’s none of the above. At best, it’s a pseudo-intellectual flop that aims for nothing and achieves no more than that. I don’t know how to fully absorb what I saw, because I’m not even entirely sure the filmmakers know what it is they were trying to present. If this didn’t have a massive budget attached to it, this latest Godzilla would have been just another poorly-dubbed joke that goes direct to video.

 

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About Chad Michael Van Alstin

Chad is an award-winning libertarian opinion columnist. He's done with that now. Having earned himself a B.A. in Mass Communication, Chad now spends most of his time as a wage laborer, killing the pain by consuming as many video games and movies as possible. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadVanAlstin
  • Svenghooli

    Godzilla was great in this film but LEAVE OUT THE STUPID GUY AND HIS WIFE!!!!! Totally unbelievable that he was jsut EVERYWHERE he was supposed to be and they let him take charge of EVERYTHING (though he is just a leautenant) and his wife had NO POINT IN THIS MOVIE AT ALL…plus she gave away her kid to do NOTHING…It’s a MONSTER movie….leave out the bullshit “love story” for cryin out loud…

    • erikd

      Its Godzilla. Its meant to entertain us. And it did. The old movies were so silly. This was awesome and yes a bit silly.

  • ricter

    not impressed at all. 90% of the movie is filmed in the dark. only talking and bullshite scenes in the daytime.

  • snakes andert

    I don’t think this film needs to be judge too harshly. After all it is, as the reviewer said, a giant lizard fighting two bats. My complaint is that they ignored most of the battles during the film. And yeah they could have done without the family. Oh and WHY did they kill off a certain character so early in the story!?

  • Chaz Lipp

    Great review – this movie did truly suck beyond belief.

  • Nate Schwartz

    he isn’t breathing fire, dipshit AND you obviously don’t get it. This movie was exactly what I expected and now they are making two more SO suck on my ballsack.

    • Chad M. Van Alstin

      You’re a very articulate and thoughtful man; I can see why Godzilla appeals to you…

      • Nate Schwartz

        well cmon man! you can’t write a movie review on Godzilla and say that he breathes fire. He doesn’t. a commonly known fact amongst anyone who has even the slightest knowledge of Godzilla. get your facts, son.

        • Earl Chase

          I personally loved the movie. My only complaint was there wasn’t enough Godzilla in it. His atomic breath was epic!

  • 2112

    Lordy, some reviews criticise the movie for too much disaster porn, some say there wasn’t enough!

  • JC™

    “Breathing Fire” SMH…. ANOTHER troll working on a name. Clearly the numbers said it all. This blog is a joke and funny.

  • David Ball

    Good movie but needed more of Godzilla in the movie,good plot but less focus on human scenes that are not real relevant and more focus on the big guy fighting these creatures to save the world, I hope if they make another Godzilla they put more of him in the movie.

  • Dr Joseph S Maresca

    People pay to see this stuff-that’s why the movie was produced again.

  • Bruce Neubauer

    It is unforgivable that, given the budget, talent pool, and technological firepower available to Hollywood film makers, that they cannot for the life of them keep from making a mess of what should be a simple, straight up great story about Godzilla. Witness the mess that is The Hobbit. I am thoroughly convinced that the people who run/work in the entertainment industry live in some kind of self-congratulatory bubble that insulates them from just how bad their product really is. They seem incapable of telling the kinds of tightly constructed stories that most of us unenlightened dummies in the flyover states long to see. This Godzilla reboot finally pushed me over the edge. I’m through paying hard-earned money to see their poorly written, poorly constructed, poorly executed crap. Done. I am officially a boycott of one. The king is naked and somebody needs to say so.

  • Victor Lana

    Sounds like this film needs Mothra and the two little girls to jazz things up a bit.