Gareth Edwards'* "Godzilla" is a movie that completely misses the point of a Godzilla film. Godzilla has been many things for many ages, but one thing he has never been - at least not until 2014 - is boring. Edwards creates a depressing miserable experience, one which repeats the greatest cardinal sin of Michael Bay's "Transformers" movies: it forgot to be a movie about the magnificent giants of the source material, and instead focuses on boring humans. Lacking either the pulpy SciFi silliness of the classic Japanese film series, or the wacky tone of the messy 1998 Roland Emmerich adaptation, Gareth Edwards makes a movie that is painfully dreary, with no sense of fun, and barely any Godzilla. He wants to conjure up the cataclysmic terror of the 1954 original, "Gojira", but fails even at this, as the mediocre characterization of the humans and terrible pacing makes this movie a battle of patience. How does a movie manage to pre-occupy itself with the human perspective, when it cannot even care for a minute to make that human perspective interesting?
Rather than playing to the strengths of the Kaiju genre, this Legendary Pictures reboot Americanizes the creature in a disaster movie, just as the 1998 TriStar attempted. And still following the 1998 version, this Godzilla is a computer-generated monster, thus losing the charm and personality of the Japanese style of human actors playing the characters within suits on miniature model city battlefields. As a typical disaster movie, most of the plot involves a White Dude working his way through the wreckage to save his family, which unfortunately massively overshadows the titular monster. Edwards becomes so wrapped up in his dull human characters that "Godzilla" often makes the horrific decision to cut away from battle scenes to show more homo sapiens. The human actors constantly interfere with the battle, never letting the creatures just have their time in the spotlight. "Godzilla" is a movie too wrapped up in its own dreariness to ever let go and be fun.
The new Godzilla is not the mighty creature of old, but a lumpy gray mass of bulk and CG, ignored by his own movie, and worse, lacking any of the charm and presence of previous adventures. Even the lizard creature of 1998, so hated by the fanbase and Toho, that it has been officially renamed "Zilla" (for taking the "God" out of "Godzilla"), had more to offer, more magnetism, and more emotional weight, then this slab of nothingness Edwards is trying to pass off as my childhood hero. Practically mute, this Godzilla never expresses himself beyond a few roars, weakly trying to generate an applause from the bored audience. He's an afterthought inside his own movie, showing up after his opponent monsters, and helping save the world for no established reason at all. There's no motivation for the poor King of Monsters. This lurching fat ungainly creature just blunders its way slowly from fight scene to fight scene, forgetting of course, to actually be entertaining. Am I still talking about the monster, or Gareth Edwards' entire film?
|Gray on more gray.|
Between the various cockteases of great kaiju action, we have the true stars of this movie. No, it is not Godzilla, he has never been more of a weak supporting role. And no, the hero is not Bryan Cranston, who is featured prominently in all of the marketing and advertising - because he's a bankable star who people want to see in a movie. But Edwards, never one to give anybody what they want, instead focuses his camera upon Aaron Taylor-Johnson, a name and face which will make you respond with a resounding: "who?" Oh, this young man is the star of "Kick-Ass", where he proved himself a veritable storm of charisma, correct? Nope. Taylor-Johnson blankly stumbles through his movie, playing a thankless role of an amazingly dull father, Ford Brody, trying to work his way across the Pacific to return to his family, but constantly having his travel plans ruined by pesky giant monsters. Bryan Cranston plays Ford's father, Joe, a former nuclear physicist, now obsessed with giant monsters ever since one killed his wife in a mysterious nuclear plant meltdown. Cranston is fun, emotive, and adds a desperate energy to the proceedings.
Of course, Cranston cannot be the main character. Because nobody wants to see a fascinating actor putting together a strong performance. Nobody wants to see Godzilla either. We want to see a boring white guy doing boring white guy stuff. Right? Between Chris Hemsworth, Joel Kinnaman, Kit Harrington, Sullivan Stapleton, and Chris Evans, 2014 has been lousy with Boring White Dudes as leading men in action movies, it is almost as if Hollywood cannot find charismatic young men anymore to star in their movies. Its bad enough that every fucking First Person Shooting has to star a Boring White Dude, now its infected our movies too? Well, congrats, "Godzilla", you get to add Aaron Taylor-Johnson's name to that list. What about green actors? What about Godzilla??
|See that forgettable thing to the right of Cranston? Yeah, he's our star. Fuck me.|
Say what you want about Emmerich, but at least Mayor Roger Ebert, Hank Azaria, and Godzilla babies slipping on gumballs added color. There is no color in this movie. Even Godzilla is fucking gray.
To admit some good in this otherwise wretched movie, Gareth Edwards knows how to point the camera. He can frame really tense scenes of small humans hiding away from greater monsters. This is a competently made movie. His indie giant monster film from a few years ago, "Monsters", showed his strengths far better - mostly because that movie did not star the blandest and most boring of the bland and boring White Boy invasion 2014 has been. Edwards even frames the monsters well from below, you get a great sense of human helplessness as they are trampled upon by massive nuclear animals. But unfortunately he can't stop cutting back to the humans, he can't just pull the camera back and let the kaiju brawl take place. This could be awesome. But I get the sense this whole movie is some cinematographer's exercise. While fancy shots and "clever" reversals happen (we miss an entire battle in Honolulu because Edwards wanted to make a joke about a little kid watching it on TV) we miss actually seeing the spectacle that this movie was banked upon. I didn't like "Pacific Rim" much, but at least that delivered the goods!
|I hate both you! You are so goddamn boring!!|
Stop fapping with the fucking camera angles and just SHOW ME GODZILLA. Goddamnit!
* A name annoyingly similar to Gareth Evans, the director of "The Raid" and "The Raid 2". I mean, come on, how many people in the world are named "Gareth"?
** If anything, the most sympathetic characters are the bad kaiju, the bat-things ripped-off from the mind of JJ Abrams. All they wanted to do was cross the Pacific and have sex in San Francisco and have little babies. Then Aaron Taylor-Boringasfuck burns the babies to death - it's the death of Godzilla's babies in the Emmerich movie all over again! Hey, the monsters might be unoriginal and bland, but they kissed once with a nuclear bomb between their mouths. And that's something. Something is more than nothing, which is what the rest of the movie offers.