godzillaI was looking forward to this movie as I grew up on Godzilla movies and always loved monsters as a kid. Unfortunately since the first re-imagining of Godzilla in 1998 and now with the latest version from 2014, there just hasn’t been “the” Godzilla movie to catch. Both versions are ok (2014 being the better version) but ultimately I’ve found them to be underwhelming.

The story in the 2014 version goes something like this – Godzilla has already been here only his existence was covered up by the government and he hasn’t shown himself for decades by this time. It turns out there’s some other monsters floating around too, this detail is worked out in the storyline through an accident at a nuclear power plant that stirs the hidden threats awake which in turn leads to the return of Godzilla whose job it is to keep bad monsters in check. The notion of Godzilla as a misunderstood protector goes back to the early films with the actors in the rubber suits. The story conveniently moves this idea into place but in a way that has tons of holes in it. There’s actually a point where one of the “scientists” recommends that the military not attack Godzilla and just leave him to take out the nasty new monsters that he’s fighting with. Really? Is there an automatic good guy/bad guy paradigm that was somehow established with relation to monsters through these scientists?

Bad writing aside (and there’s a lot), the effects and design are pretty good although at times the effects look digital and obvious. For the most part though, the monsters and destruction of the city they’re fighting in is pretty fun to watch. Ultimately I enjoyed the action scenes and found that they took me back to when I was a kid enjoying the Saturday afternoon creature-double feature days of television. Speaking of the old films, if you’re a fan, you might enjoy the modern interpretation of the old mothra monster that Godzilla used to fight, only this time there are two of them and yes, Godzilla whips out the white flame breath he’s famous for. Just had a thought about that – wouldn’t Godzilla be considered a dragon with the whole flame breath thing? Why haven’t other people caught on to that?

The talent is somewhat inconsequential as we’re all here for the big guy, but the cast does include some notable actors. The lineup includes the always-superb Bryan Cranston and the one-dimensional Aaron Taylor-Johnson who is very cookie cutter and not super convincing, as the initial principal characters. The rest of the actors are ok but are all just there to serve as your conventional characters in a film like this, noone (aside from Cranston) stood out or turned in what I would consider a break out performance. The lineup includes Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, David Strathairn, Richard T. Jones, and Sally Hawkins.

While the film is better than the ’98 version with Matthew Broderick, it’s still not “the” Godzilla film I’ve been waiting for…

reviewed by Sean McKnight