Godzilla

| May 21, 2014
Nodzilla: The fact that Edwards' reboot is generating big bucks doesn't change the fact that it's a colossal bore.
Nodzilla: The fact that Edwards' reboot is generating big bucks doesn't change the fact that it's a colossal bore.

Everybody’s favorite metaphor for Atomic Age anxiety turned 60 this year, and Hollywood's idea of a great birthday gift was — you guessed it — a big-budget, star-studded reboot. The studio should have gone with a necktie. Even a bad one would've been better than this.

Sitting through Gareth Edwards' (Monsters) lumbering, muddled Godzilla is no party. We could spend all day listing its shortcomings, but how's this for starters: The guest of honor is an hour late.

This is the 28th feature to star the lizard king, so you might imagine they'd have this down to a science. You'd be wrong. The latest makes Roland Emmerich's maligned 1998 update look like Alien. Which is fitting, because the real stars are a pair of giant mantis mutants that look like they were inspired by an H.R. Giger doodle.

You didn't realize this is a monster movie in which the monsters with the most screen time are total unknowns? Speaking of surprises — Bryan Cranston turns in borderline-embarrassing work here, which isn't helped by a silly wig and sillier dialogue. The actor plays a scientist who works at a Tokyo nuclear facility and suspects the truth hasn't been told when the place is totaled and the tragedy is blamed on geological tremors.

That's 1999. Fast-forward to the present, and the scientist finds his paranoia to be well founded when he sneaks into the quarantined site with his son (a personality-free Aaron Taylor-Johnson). They set in motion a chain of events awakening a sleeping giant in the form of a MUTO, or Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism.

Two of the creatures end up being roused. One's male, the other female, and both are in really bad, if randy, moods. Movie mayhem ensues. Skyscrapers are reduced to rubble. People run down the street screaming. The military launches Operation Why Bother?

A lot of money was spent on this yawn-athon, and a lot of gifted writers worked on the script, among them, unbelievably, Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, "The Walking Dead" — which he created!). Beats me completely how a talent like that could produce characters, storylines and dialogue this generic.

Likewise squandered is a top-notch cast including the likes of David Strathairn, Juliette Binoche, Elizabeth Olsen and Ken Watanabe, none of whom is given anything remotely interesting to do. It's a sad day when an actor of Watanabe's stature is reduced to upchucking lines like "The arrogance of man is thinking nature is in our control and not the other way around" while gazing up at a green screen.

The film offers no explanation as to how the G-man is alerted to humankind's peril or why he considers it his problem, but eventually he does make his entrance and engages the MUTOs in a smackdown. It'll absolutely leave your jaw dropped — assuming you've never seen a Transformers film, Independence Day, Armageddon, 2012, War of the Worlds, Cloverfield, Pacific Rim or any of the dozens of other ear-splitting effect fests that have offered pixelated spectacles of mass destruction since the dawn of CGI.

If devastation porn is your cup of tea, this is the picture for you. That's all it has to offer. No characters who are developed enough to care about, no narrative coherence, no tweaks to the genre, not so much as a suggestion of humor, and zero metaphors. Just monster-on-monster, building-bashing action like you haven't seen since maybe last week.

Are the effects good? It goes without saying at this point and at this price that they are. But the movie's not. At a cost of $160 million, I'd venture to say Warner Bros. didn't get its money's worth. I can say with certainty you won't get yours.

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Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

I thought Godzilla knew about the two bad-monsters due to their talking, echolocation, and all the EMP they were giving off. Also, I gathered the main reason for Godzilla to take the two down is because he was the Apex predator, ie king of the jungle, and had to make sure they knew he was boss. Now to me, that meant Godzilla should've beaten them to submission, not out right kill them; however, they gave hints that Godzilla is far smarter than a mindless t-rex beast and I'm sure he had his reasons which will lead to Godzilla 2

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Posted by Nicole Cass on 05/31/2014 at 12:12 PM

An epic flop......Plot holes galore , terrible acting

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Posted by Vince Lentini on 05/24/2014 at 7:19 PM

I liked this one much more than the Matthew Broderick campy nonsense in the early 2000s. And for complaining that Godzilla didnt show up until after the first hour, it was building the suspense! And it worked! I couldn't wait to see Godzilla storm onto the scene. It wasn't a shortcoming it was a plus.
I was pumped to see Bryan Cranston in the movie too, since I saw Breaking Bad, and I really this he played this minor role very well, it's a shame he didn't have a bigger role.
I give it a 4 out of 5.
And if you're in the mood for destruction at its best, it's a 5 out of 5.

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Posted by Alexander Darr on 05/22/2014 at 5:02 PM

Mr Reuter, while I can't help but be impressed by your insider knowledge of how film reviewers do their job (viewing DVDs containing "snippets" and plagiarizing fellow critics in order to avoid going to the theater and watching a film), the fact is that I very much enjoy watching movies at local cinemas and writing about them. It's the best job in the world. You neglected to specify which parts of my review of Godzilla you considered "lies" to the public so I can't provide any clarity for you there but I do feel badly that you found reading my piece so upsetting and hope you feel better now. I assure you I sat through every one of its 123 minutes and have the ticket stub to prove it. As for "Rex reed," the last time I checked, he was still writing weekly reviews and living in the same building in NYC John Lennon once occupied. Not bad for an old man.

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Posted by Rick Kisonak on 05/22/2014 at 1:38 PM

You did not see the film. Several of your statements regarding the plot are flatly wrong, so you either just watched snippets that were sent on a DVD, or you didn't see it at all and just cut and pasted bits and pieces of others' reviews. This is increasingly common in movie reviews. It isn't merely that the plot was complicated or confusing (it wasn't); to anyone who has actually sent the film, it is obvious that, like so many other online reviewers, you simply didn't bother seeing it yourself. Its fine not to like something and I can see why some might have a problem with the film, but to simply lie to the public is a travesty. Time to retire, old man. This is your "Cabin in the Woods" moment, and if you are too oblivious to understand the reference, just ask yourself what Rex reed is up to these days.

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Posted by Leonard Reuter on 05/21/2014 at 5:44 PM
Showing 1-5 of 5

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