DISCLAIMER: I’m a HUGE Godzilla fan. Don’t expect an unbiased review here, although I tried to be as neutral and considerate as possible for a guy who sleeps with a Godzilla action figure. After all, this is an animation fan site. We’re all kind of biased.
The wait is finally over–Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla has arrived! As the resident Godzilla fan / expert for Rotoscopers, I’m happy to say that I really enjoyed Gareth Edwards’ portrayal of the King of the Monsters. The finished product exceeded my expectations and left me craving more.
The first thing you should know is that Godzilla is not your typical action/adventure summer blockbuster. If you’re looking for something like Transformers or Pacific Rim, you might walk away disappointed. From early on in its production, it was clear that director Gareth Edwards was trying to recreate the somber and bleak tones of the original Japanese masterpiece, Gojira (1954). Don’t expect vibrant colors, copious amounts of explosions or bullet-time slow motion action shots. The film is about the terror of giant monster destruction and Edwards’ straight-forward approach effectively contributes to that theme.
I would describe Godzilla as a kaiju drama. The human cast, especially Bryan Cranston, delivers an overall believable emotive performance that really drives home the misery caused by the rampaging kaiju. Godzilla and his fellow monsters cause plenty of destruction over the course of the film. What’s special about this film is that Edwards managed to make the destruction not only cool to look at, but scary to watch as well.
Speaking of scary, I have to say that this film managed to pull off the coolest version of Godzilla that I’ve ever seen. In the film Godzilla’s not some scared lizard who accidentally got blown up to huge proportions. He’s a straight-up MONSTER. He’s big, he’s scary, and he’s in a really bad mood. Godzilla has filled many roles over the years, but this time he’s going back to who he was in the original film: a walking nightmare.
And of course, the visual effects for Godzilla are masterful. Legendary managed to seamlessly integrate a giant, chubby (just like in Gojira) CG monster with the film’s live action elements. The most impressive feat, however, was how they managed to bring out the character of Godzilla. That’s right, Godzilla is a character in this film. Viewers, especially fans of the old Toho movies, will be pleasantly surprised with the role Godzilla ultimately plays in the narrative, and how accurate his character is to the original films.
That being said, I was disappointed with how little we actually got to see Godzilla himself. Be advised that the film does not retell the origins of Godzilla, and die-hard fans might be turned off by his lack of screen time. Don’t expect anything as gratuitous as Pacific Rim. The best comparison I can make with this film is Toho’s Godzilla Versus The Sea Monster aka Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966), where Godzilla plays an important role, but isn’t the focal point. For me it was annoying, but not unforgivable. After all, the whole point of the old Godzilla films was wading through the dumb human plot (aka substance) so we can finally watch the monsters fight. And trust me, when all the build-up ends and the monster mash begins, Edwards’ Godzilla will not disappoint.
Final score: 4 out of 5 stars