The best visually appealing Godzilla movie to date until the sequel was released. Jaws is my favorite movie for just my overall love of the film and the filmmaking behind it. Godzilla on the other hand is one of my favorite movie characters and this movie was the one that really started my love for the character. My first introduction to the monster was when I was much younger and I saw the Godzilla from the 90’s. Let’s just say it wasn’t the best introduction for a creature as well-known as Godzilla, so seeing the first trailers for this movie was enough to get my excitement on another level. I haven’t actually seen this movie in a while so I was excited to revisit it and what better time than now when I’m working through a group of man vs monster movies lately.
As I said in my first line of this review, this Godzilla movie is the most visually appealing one in the series. Godzilla warrant a large budget for the visual effects and I’m glad the studio finally decided to pull the trigger and dump some money into the film. On top of that they also brought on a director who has become known for his striking visuals and his grasp of scale in his movies. The sense of scale that he knows so well is both a blessing and a curse, it just depends on who you ask about this movie.
You also may be asking where the connection is between this and jaws when doing a comparison. Well, it’s a thing connection, but director Gareth Edwards certainly seemed to have a bit of the Jaws style when filming this movie. The movie takes its time building up the tension of seeing the giant lizard and we get glimpses of Godzilla throughout the movie similar to that of the shark in Jaws, and then we see him in all of his glory by the end of the film just like Jaws. There are many similarities when it comes to how he handled this movie, but you can also make the comparison to many of the other movies I have reviewed like Crawl, 47 Meters Down and the Meg.
They all use the same formula of introducing the main threat, so it is a fair comparison to put this in line with all of those other films. It all comes down though to how it matches up with the others. I think from the very beginning this movie has an edge because of the great hook in the first fifteen minutes as well as all of the buildup to seeing Godzilla. I have always been very interested in the story of Chernobyl and with the show being released recently, I actually found more pleasure this time around because of the nuclear plant setting they had for this movie.
I also really enjoyed the old footage in the opening credits with the discovery of Godzilla and how they nuked him. It’s all a good setup for later on in the movie as well as in the sequel. Where this movie does start to lose me though is the boring villain. Now you could from a certain point of view call Godzilla a villain but I disagree, the villain in this movie is very much the MUTOs which seem mostly generic and I feel like it was a wasted opportunity not to have a more classic Godzilla villain for that role in the film.
Outside of those two we also have humans because we can’t have a monster movie without humans otherwise nobody would actually go and watch it. It’s a shame because I could probably sit through a whole movie of just giant monsters duking it out, but we didn’t get that. Instead we got Bryan Cranston for a third of the movie which is unfortunate, but we also get Aaron Taylor-Johnson as our lead Ford. I always enjoy watching him because I feel like he’s actually a really good actor and I want to see him in more. He doesn’t do much in this film other than be our tour guide for seeing Godzilla, but he does well with what he’s given. The best parts of this movie that include the humans are all of the scenes with Cranston which sucks because he’s offed so early on.
Surprisingly this is one of the more underrated casts at the same time that I didn’t remember being as deep as it was. We had Sally Hawkins, Elizabeth Olsen, and Ken Watanabe in supporting roles. Again they are intended to be important but because I mostly came to see the monsters, I didn’t really care so much what they were doing. Unfortunately Edwards seem to focus too much on the humans ultimately leading us to see everything from their perspective.
That brings me to the biggest controversy about this movie being that while Gareth Edwards and his sense of scale is incredible, he also tends to focus too much on that to the point that we don’t actually get to see enough of Godzilla. The first time I watched the film I didn’t have a problem with it because visually the whole movie was a treat to watch, but this time around I do agree that it was a bit of a tease the amount of Godzilla we actually got.
By the end though I still felt the same as I did when I first watched it, the final battle does make up for the lack of the lizard at least a little bit because we get to see Godzilla rip open the MUTOs mouth and proceed to fire atomic breath through him ultimately winning the match. That such a visually awesome moment that I want to jump up and cheer every time I watch it. I will give a lot of the mistakes this movie has a pass just because I love that part so much.
Back to the mistakes though. Yes, I think Edwards was trying something bold with how we going about directing the film and yes I think it was a slight mistake because we didn’t get to see as much of Godzilla as we really wanted to. Outside of that though I think the movie works really well a lot of that being because of the great visuals effects and many of the actual shots that Edwards got like the soldiers parachuting down with the red smoke. I love that shot and is one of my favorites of the whole film.
In comparing it to some of the other movies in this nature like The Meg, it certainly holds up as being close to the Meg, but overall quality I would say is under The Meg. This movie has a lot to be desired and some work that needs to be done going into the sequel. The good thing though is that where The Meg put it all out on the table, Godzilla didn’t. This gives it every opportunity to be far better than The Meg in a sequel if they choose to put it all out on the table too.