What’s good, everyone? Joshua Evo here, and while I ask that question all the time, I now have the answer: Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla. I’ve been on a non-stop hype train about this movie for the better part of at LEAST two years. As what many would consider a “hardcore” fan, it’s expected that I would either just love this movie out of the gate or nitpick it to death. Fortunately, I’m able to say that I didn’t need to rip it apart, as apart from some very minor qualms, it was an extremely enjoyable film.
Off the jump, I’m going to discuss the King himself. I’ve always likened the look of Godzilla in his various movies to the actors that play James Bond. There’s always differing opinions on which one was the best one. Personally, my favorite look was the one he sported in 2001’s Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, but the real question is how does the 2014 LegendGoji stack up? Well, let’s examine the differences: The skin texture has gone to a more scaly, reptilian texture versus the traditional sort of “tree bark” look, the spines along his back aren’t as large as previous incarnations, but are still as striking as they ever were. In terms of raw size, this Godzilla is MUCH larger than and his posture and gait are not as upright standing as his previous incarnations, more akin to that of a large Grizzly or Polar bear lumbering on two legs. Lots of people had issues with the shape and size of Godzilla’s feet, as they’ve gone from the classic splayed toes with claws to a more column-like shape not unlike an elephant or sauropod dinosaur. Luckily for those pundits, Godzilla’s feet are shown in detail maybe ONCE during the whole span of the film. These differences between the LegendGoji design and the classic Godzilla design can be pretty apparent, but aren’t enough that the character isn’t instantly recognizable as Godzilla. Finally, there’s the atomic breath. Suffice it to say, it’s there… and it’s spectacular.
Oh… and my GOD, that roar. So awesome.
Another trademark of a Godzilla film is most definitely the opponent he’s pit against. In this film, Godzilla faces two Massive Unknown Terrestrial Organisms or MUTOs. These creatures feed on radioactivity and the central purpose of the film is a meeting of the two MUTOs. Their designs are very interesting, as they are punctuated by having several red and orange lights on their heavily angular bodies. The MUTO design has some obvious influences and nods to kaiju from other films. They definitely don’t feel like generic targets of Godzilla’s wrath, and are very capable in both battle and the art of destruction, so they definitely make a worthwhile addition the existing rogue’s gallery of Godzilla’s foes.
The human characters in this film are every bit as important as the monsters, as without them, there’s not a whole hell of a lot to relate to and the movie becomes just two hours of monster action. Believe me, it sounds cool in practice but it’s really not all it’s cracked up to be. In all honesty, the human action and drama is pretty good with the small exceptions of the characters of Elle and Ford Brody, which I felt were a bit on the underdeveloped side. Ford’s character is a pretty “generic soldier” archetype, but enough of his back story is filled out in the intro for the audience to relate to him. The other human characters in this story were wonderfully portrayed, namely Ken Watanabe as Dr. Serizawa, secretive scientist and voice of the conscience of Godzilla, as it were. Bryan Cranston, who is brilliant in his portrayal of widowed husband and father-turned would-be conspiracy theorist and finally David Stratharin as Admiral William Stenz, who plays a character that could have just as easily been a typical misunderstanding, war-mongering military leader with a feeling of conflicted sense of duty and emotion. Together, the ensemble make up a very effective cast.
So for the sum of all its parts, how’d it do? Pretty damn well, I have to say. As a long time fan and follower of any and all things Godzilla, my biggest praise for this movie is not for the stellar effects, the effective acting and characterization, the writing or even the tone of the film, but how it felt as a Godzilla movie. In my opinion, it’s an extremely worthy addition to the franchise. Gareth Edwards’ film has all of the earmarks of film made by a true fan of the series with a perfect splash of Spielbergian filmmaking. It’s not the BEST Godzilla movie by any means, nor is it the greatest film of the Kaiju genre, but it is a spectacular entry into the series as well as a phenomenal stand alone film that completely repairs the damage done to the “Godzilla” by the botched 1998 production by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich. On a personal note, it’s simply amazing to see Godzilla being discussed as a part of the popular culture in this day and age. With the talk of Gareth Edwards receiving a huge opportunity in being attached to direct one of the upcoming Star Wars spinoff films and then returning to direct what has been recently announced as the rest of the Godzilla Trilogy, the future looks bright for us Kaiju film fans, and for Godzilla. Big shoutouts and thank yous to Legendary Pictures, Toho, Gareth Edwards and the cast and crew of this film. You produced one hell of a film, returned the majesty to the character of Godzilla and have done Tomoyuki Tanaka, Eiji Tsuburaya and G-Fans the world over proud.