10 thoughts on “Godzilla (2014)”

  1. Thank you for including the Gojira March at the end of your review. I was surprising disappointed when I didn’t hear that music, at any point, during G2014. It’s as much a part of my aural memory of Godzilla as the big guy’s roar.

    I do wish they had gone a little deeper into that “Godzilla is the balance of nature” nonsense that Sherizawa postulates. Specifically – if Godzilla is the balance, what does balanced look like? ‘Cause I’m betting that, to a billion year old atomic lizard, a planet wide human civilization isn’t it.

    One of the things that I really liked about the Nineties Gamera trilogy is the idea that Gamera was the defender of the Earth, not necessarily the defender of mankind. Taking out the Gyaos and other kaiju was more his job than protecting widdle childrens.

    Maybe Godzilla just hates MUTOs. It’s not like he ate the ones killed.

    Or maybe the MUTOs, as consumers of all things radioactive, were likely to reduce the growing radioactivity on the surface of our planet, therefore making it less attractive to Godzilla. In which case, maybe a planet polluted by human civilization is the balance Godzilla is looking for.

    Not that I think Edwards or his scriptwriters put a lot of thought into the ramblings they put in Watanabe’s mouth.

    And that news headline suggesting that Godzilla was a hero? Sure, as long as we don’t think about, in the most blatant example, all the people who were on the Golden Gate when he lumbered through it.

    I enjoyed the movie and I’m hoping that, for the sequel, Godzilla gets more screen time and we get more interesting human beings for the non monster stretches.

    1. Godzilla’s indifference toward eating his kills has caused no end of debate. It may be the second fanbase fissure this movie’s opened up, right after “OMG! Y U Not Show Godzilla?” Analogies have been drawn between coyotes and wolves, or lions and hyenas, by people whose knowledge of either comes exclusively from bad TV, and the whole thing could’ve been avoided by having Godzilla chow down on one of the bombs my country’s Ever-Victorious Army kept hand-delivering to the bugs. (Or any of the aircraft carriers in Godzilla’s trans-Pacific escort.) After wrestling them over it, of course. I thought that’s what the climactic fight was going for…until it decided it had to wrap itself up on a triumphalist note, hoping to avoid any potential emotional confusion in its audience (and, ironically, ginning up quite a bit as is).

      Occam’s razor tells me that the fraidy-cats who financed this were desperate for a PG-13. Hence the shunting of these monsters into the Manichean, binary moral categories so beloved by Protestants everywhere, and having a Respected Actor tell the audience who’s where. Instead of, say, showing us and letting us figure it out for ourselves.

      But having a “heroic” monster devour his opponents limb-from-limb would’ve made getting a PG-13…difficult. As is, they were already pushing against my country’s knee-jerk, puritanical, pretend-in-public, think-of-the-children squeamishness – which has stayed at constant, nightmarish levels ever since 9/11’s tenth anniversary – by bringing Godzilla’s patented brand of Urban Renewal to San Francisco and Honolulu. I’ll bet other people’s farms that the MPAA allowed this movie one on-screen decapitation, max. And they probably had to negotiate like hell to get even that. At least they made it count. Any more, and the MPAA’s pitchforks would’ve come out. That, rather than Watanabe’s dialogue (or character, or final purpose in the movie) is probably what occupied most of their thoughts.

      Be careful what you hope for. I’ll also bet that, two-to-three years from now, we’ll be plugging our ears as scores of people (currently bitching and moaning about the lack of Godzilla in this Godzilla movie) bitch and moan about an excess of Godzilla in its sequel. I can almost hear it now, like a memory of the future: “Godzilla looks soooo fake, you guys! Seriously. Why’d they have to show him off so much? Didn’t they hear us all group-thinking about Jaws last time…? Or did they listen to…The Fanboys: Ruiners of Everything Good and Decent!?” And so it goes.

      And you’re welcome. Nothing wrong with Alexandre Desplat’s music…but, like Ford Not-Prefect, it’s spectacularly generic, and it’s genre is “Bog-standard Hollywood Action Movie.”

      1. The music was pretty weak. Not nearly as obnoxious as your average Hans Zimmer effort but still pedestrian and forgettable.

    2. I thought it was rather self explanatory with the “balance of nature'”. Godzilla was a predator and the Muto were the prey. Keeping these things simple I think is always a good idea.

  2. Very insightful review, David. Edwards has already stated that if he has anything to do with the inevitable sequel, he’ll pretty much follow the same formula and not have Godzilla show up until at least the halfway point. My biggest beef with Godzilla 2014 is that it actually failed to live up to the incredibly low standard that was set by Pacific Rim. It even “borrows” some ideas from PR, such as EMP capable monsters. I think we were all relieved that the movie didn’t suck as much as it could have, but I predict that once the sense of relief wears off in a few years, this particular Godzilla is going to face some serious fan hostility.

    1. Your prediction has already come true, to an extent. It was inevitable. Hopefully, seeing the film go through a mirror-universe version of what happened to G98 will at least be interesting. And some of us will have the energy to keep the level of discourse out of the mud…though I failed so spectacularly last time, I won’t blame anyone for throwing up their hands and saying, “screw it.”

  3. Simply put, I was thoroughly satisfied. Yes, I did starve for a decent leading man after Cranston’s all too early demise and irked by the rather banal performances but I wasn’t aggravated. I never felt the film failed to entertain through it’s entire duration, it was a piece of sausage from the Hollywood factory and it did it’s job. I read the action clearly, I had a fair amount of sympathy for the humans, and I thought the monsters got enough screen time. I was so thankful this is was not yet another gloomy, post 9/11 pondering character study in the style of Nolan and Synder. Yes, there were some of those real life parallels in Godzillla with it’s tedious environmentalism messages and arguably some recollections of some recent human misery but it does not consume the film.

  4. I’m a total G-nerd, too. I felt G 2014 had its ups and downs. Here’s my rundown of it:

    – The visuals are fantastic. Today’s technology gives us images we’ve never seen in a Godzilla movie, but instantly love once we do see them.
    – Plenty of high aerial shots of the damage done and plenty of ground-level shots as the damage is being done, and very few monster’s-eye-level shots. An indisputable improvement.
    – The use of Ligeti’s “Requim” during the paratrooping scene was a masterstroke of unconventionality. Whoever’s idea that was, I want to shake his hand. Last soundtrack you’d think of, but perfect for the part! That scene could’ve been twice as long and I wouldn’t’ve minded a bit.
    – Having civilians still in the area when the military take their places and open fire, for a change. It’s not a big detail, but that one scene in Hawaii when the soldiers start shooting while the civilians at street-level start screaming just felt Right!
    – The violence aesthetic (towards humans, other creatures, and property) is perfectly in keeping with the Godzilla franchise, with the exception of a few long aerial shots of corpses strewn all over debris, which I didn’t mind at all. The movie doesn’t try to kiddify Godzilla, nor turn Godzilla into a gorefest. Its Godzilla as you know and love Godzilla. Props!
    – Good variety of city-stompings, instead of picking only one city each movie to get stomped. (FWIW, I STILL can’t pronounce “Fukuoka.”)
    – The movie is remarkably friendly to the military, without being boosterish (although I don’t think it would’ve been a demerit if a ship or two had capsized from those waves Godzilla was making).
    – The other kaiju are also perfectly in keeping with the Godzilla franchise. Someone’s imagination was allowed to cut loose on the design, rather than just a giant real-world animal.
    – Remarkably free of any preaching. The Serizawa character seemed like he was about to go into Folly Of Man mode a couple times, but never did.
    – While there are a couple moments of ironic timing, this movie plays the plot straight for the most part. However, that leads to…..

    – While the straight-facedness of the plot is welcome, the plot itself doesn’t come anywhere close to warranting that seriousness. There are Godzilla plots that are best played straight, but this isn’t one of them.
    – The romance subplot periodically becomes the main plot. There are points in this movie where the movie wants you to believe that as long as these two lovebirds are reunited, it’s a happy ending, nevermind the six- or seven-digit casualty count. F**kin’ YUCK!!!
    – The Hollywood trope of the Hero being involved in every aspect of the official response to the crisis is in full effect here (You mean the Army doesn’t have ONE SINGLE E.O.D. man of their own at the ready? C’mon!)
    – Godzilla as hero or villian? It’s just my preference, but I was hoping for the opposite of what this movie goes with.

    BOTTOM LINE: This movie does an excellent job of bringing Godzilla up to date with the latest visuals, catching up to Transformers or Pacific Rim. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that the key difference between this movie and those was simply who/what was doing the destructo-porn city-smashing. That and the unduly serious mood. This movie is a thrill ride with a straight face. And Godzilla.

    1. I could understand the complaint about the hero stumbling around everywhere it’s convenient but give me that over the Emmerich formula of having a gaggle of obnoxious cut out comic relief characters.

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