‘Godzilla’ Review

Published 4 months ago by , Updated August 15th, 2014 at 8:06 pm,

Godzilla Movie Poster 2014 Godzilla Review

In GodzillaJoe Brody (Bryan Cranston), a chief engineer working at the Janjira nuclear plant, discovers a mysterious seismic activity pattern that, if ignored, could threaten the stability of his facility (as well as the lives of nearby residents). Yet, before Joe can plead to his superiors for caution, a mysterious force causes a meltdown within the plant – leaving Joe, his family, along with the rest of the area, devastated.

Fifteen years later, Joe is still searching for answers, obsessed with uncovering the real reason behind Janjira’s nuclear meltdown. When the eccentric conspiracy theorist is arrested inside a quarantine zone, Joe’s son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a Navy EOD technician, must travel to Japan in an effort to bring his father back to the states – and put an end to Joe’s increasingly dangerous search for answers. Yet, just after Ford arrives in Japan, it becomes clear that Joe was right all along – and that the world is about to pay the price for not listening to his warnings.

Bryan Cranston Aaron Taylor Johnson Godzilla 2014 Godzilla Review

Bryan Cranston and Aaron Taylor-Johnson in ‘Godzilla’

When his critically-acclaimed film Monsters became an indie sci-fi favorite, director Gareth Edwards was challenged with rebooting the iconic King of the Monsters for Legendary Pictures. Despite abysmal ratings for Roland Emmerich’s 1998 Godzilla, the film’s $370 million (unadjusted) in ticket sales made it clear the giant lizard still had pull at the global box office. Thankfully, Edwards learned from Hollywood’s past mistakes and the new Godzilla offers a fresh and tantalizing moviegoing experience for longtime fans of “Monster Zero-One,” as well as casual viewers looking for summer spectacle.

In spite of tongue-in-cheek Godzilla vs. [Insert Monster X] movies over the last half-century, the original Toho Gojira (1954) wasn’t created to birth a cinematic icon – the monster was used as a horrifying metaphor for the atomic bomb. To that end, Edwards smartly blends sixty years worth of Godzilla movies into a cautionary tale warning of modern humankind’s arrogance, presenting the King of Monsters as both horror and hero. Some may complain that there isn’t quite enough Godzilla in Godzilla, but Edwards’ restraint is actually a credit to the success of the film – especially in an era where audiences can become desensitized to CGI characters and onscreen destruction. The director walks a fine line between showing off the redesigned reptile while harnessing the creature’s larger-than-life persona. Godzilla makes a big impression, dealing genuinely crowd-pleasing moments without overstaying his welcome, and leaving audiences to relish in every shot of the monster.

Godzilla 2014 Monster Godzilla Review

The King of Monsters in ‘Godzilla’

Instead of relying on massive CGI fights to sell the film, Edwards makes smart use of interesting human stories – which lead viewers through increasingly revealing looks at Godzilla and other threats. Edwards’ movie isn’t just about Godzilla or military might, it’s a captivating tale of people (at all levels) as we encounter natural forces outside of our control. Regardless of its scope, the movie is surprisingly intimate – with beautiful cinematography that grounds Godzilla in a rich and lived-in world. Edwards keeps his focus tight on a small group of human characters – allowing them to develop within the context of the greater crisis (but without stealing the spotlight from their titular star). As a result, the computer generated antihero is rarely disconnected from the perils of people on the ground – with seamless shots that transition back and forth between selfless human heroics and eye-popping monster mayhem.

Cranston sets the tone early as charming but compulsive Joe Brody – a man that, even before disaster strikes, is aloof and obsessive. Despite an award-winning turn as Walter White in Breaking Bad, Cranston has been relegated to thin caricature in most of his film roles – one-note villains or tough-as-nails military men. Fortunately, Cranston is given a lot more to work with in Godzilla and the actor supplies an emotional and empathetic performance which ensures that both pillars of the narrative (sci-fi fantasy and human drama) are taken seriously.

Aaron Taylor Johnson Elizabeth Olsen Godzilla 2014 Godzilla Review

Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen in ‘Godzilla’

Paired with Cranston, Taylor-Johnson is a serviceable leading-man for the story as Ford – a relatable hero trying to get back to his wife, Elle (Elizabeth Olsen), and son Sam (Carson Bolde). At times it’s clear that Ford is a fictional fabrication – a character designed for every occasion in all the right places at the right times – but thanks to a likable turn from Taylor-Johnson, it’s easy to suspend disbelief and follow along.

While Olsen furnishes one of the stronger performances in the film, the talented actress is given very little screen time. Instead of developing Elle as a character, Edwards sidelines Olsen to fleshing-out the men and monsters around her - adding another layer to Ford as well as providing on-the-ground emotional drama once Godzilla hits the mainland. Similarly, Ken Watanabe’s Dr. Ichiro Serizawa is tasked with delivering exposition in nearly every single scene – providing backstory, scientific revelations, and giant monster insights whenever a character (and the audience) needs clarification. That said, Serizawa is still an impactful addition, similar to Dr. Kyohei Yamane (Takashi Shimura) in the original Godzilla, a scientist reeling from the collision of scientific discovery and its consequences. Serizawa helps viewers navigate conflicting feelings about Godzilla – making it acceptable (at least this time) to root for the King of Monsters, even when he’s destroying entire cities in the process.

Ken Watanabe Dr Ichiro Serizawa Godzilla 2014 Godzilla Review

Ken Watanabe as Dr. Ichiro Serizawa in ‘Godzilla’

Godzilla is also playing in 3D and 3D IMAX theaters and the film takes full advantage of both premium formats. The film may not have been shot in 3D but the post-conversion contributes in immersion and enhanced visual spectacle. IMAX 3D is also a worthy investment, even for frugal filmgoers, since the extra screen size and audio fidelity enhance Godzilla’s massive size and heart-pounding roar. The 3D isn’t essential (especially in certain parts of the film) but viewers who are willing to invest in a premium ticket will get their money’s worth from the IMAX experience.

Moviegoers expecting two hours of CGI monster beat downs may be underwhelmed by the amount of Godzilla in Edwards’ reboot. However, the director has actually delivered a much more ambitious and memorable experience, blending a crowd-pleasing return for the titular star, poignant human drama, thought-provoking cautionary themes, as well as fun Toho series nods (like monster battles on TV) – all with entertaining blockbuster spectacle and a third act brawl that sets a new bar for the beloved King of the Monsters.

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Godzilla runs 123 minutes and is Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence. Now playing in 2D, 3D, and 3D IMAX theaters.

Let us know what you thought of the film in the comment section below. If you’ve seen the movie and want to discuss details about the film without worrying about spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it, please head over to our Godzilla spoilers discussion.

For an in-depth discussion of the film by the Screen Rant editors check out our Godzilla episode of the SR Underground podcast.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for future reviews, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.

Our Rating:

4 out of 5
(Excellent)

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TAGS: godzilla

408 Comments

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  1. I’m glad to hear it is getting good reviews. Frankly I’m just in it for the visuals. I never felt like much deeper meaning needed to be thrust upon Godzilla. He’s pretty straight forward. Makes noise, smashes stuff, and goes back into the ocean, some time later, repeat.

    • Godzilla is not Brock Lesnar okay? Every movie needs depth, human element and drama to be good. Otherwise, they are just popcorn flicks like Transformers or even Pacific Rim.

      • You make it sound being a popcorn flick makes a movie bad. They have their place. Unfortunately Hollywood doesn’t seem to understand that either and tries to make nearly every big film a popcorn flick.

    • I think the reason people appreciate (or expect) deeper meaning is because the original film was built upon a metaphor. Godzilla might seem silly or cheesy now but that original film took itself, its themes, and its monster very seriously.

    • I just got done watch my favourite movie reviewer Mark Kermode talk about this film and he seems to agree with myself and everyone else who saw it and thought it was a great monster film that didn’t fall into the trap a lot of monster films fall into by just bringing chaos and destruction and nothing more. His final statement in the review was this:

      “There was a worry that this film could be a CGI spectacle with no depth like Transformers but actually, it turns out there’s a lot of depth and character in there like Pacific Rim, which I also liked very, very much.”

      • He also recommended seeing it on “the biggest, loudest screen you can find” so yeah, IMAX 3D if you can find a cinema with that option. I also recommend it because that’s how I saw the film too.

        • no..please not imax 3d, just find some imax 2d. It’s post converted, it’s not like seeing amazing spiderman in imax 3d. waste of money.

          i watched it in imax 3d, not worth it guys.

    • You forgot to mention the worst actors in the world, non-existent music (only the jump scene has music, which by the way is a repetitive sound), monsters that feed on radioactivity ( it would be more real if they ate rock), soldiers that carry whole ICBM missiles instead of just the bombs, and activate them in major cities, non-existent character evolution, a main monster that appears 5 minutes, another monster that climbs into the eifell tower in vegas, another monster that kisses the other one, a massive insect that protects the eggs, etc,etc,etc. I am a 3d programmer/artist, trust me the FX in this movie are average ( and if we weight that statement by the time the monsters appear they would suck)

  2. “Here lizard lizard lizard…

    …uh-oh…

    …I tink I need a bigger box.”

  3. Two Words – F**K YEAH!!!!

    IMAX 3D Sunday @ 13:00, can’t wait :)

    • Definitely worth it for IMAX.

    • I really should’ve gone in IMAX… It was so awesome.

  4. Very pleased to report that if Gareth Edwards truly believed he was making a movie about “global warming” as he recently claimed, he utterly failed.

    Instead, he’s made a fantastic Godzilla movie that serves as one heck of a good ad for the US Military.

    I can’t wait to see this move a second time!!

    • I thought Global warming was just everyone’s speculation what they thought the themes of the movie was going to be about. Nothing more nothing less.

  5. T-minus 2 hours 30 minutes. Supremely confident about Edwards nailing the carnage, but every bit as eager to see if he has improved his human interactions (the weakest point of ‘Monsters’). Either way, utterly desperate to see it and the more I stare at the clock the more convinced I am the sodding thing is going backwards.

    • Concur with the 8/10. The flaws of Gareth Edwards are still there, alas. Struggles with scenes involving two humans talking to each other and either he is still to learn how to direct actors with authority or he does not believe (yet) he can do so. Time will tell, but a lot of it was too reliant on more experienced talent carrying those through instinct.

      Also, it is hard not to compare this to the obvious wink to the audience cheese of ‘Pacific Rim’ and therefore see it suffer unintentionally with its earnestness.

      However… Gojiro… what a force of skyscraper sized wrecking ball nature. The catch and release reveals were sublime and some of the stand alone shots will drop your jaw (my favourite involved ships). Not to mention some flair that beggared belief (drop from the plane). The analogy to nature was a little on the nose at times but the desperation of the humans (nailed this aspect) more than paid off in verifying the helpless aspect of worthlessness in the face of such uncontrollable authority.

      … oh, and that first reveal and roar… I whooped. But then again, how could one not goddam whoop. The love from director to subject matter was evident. It allowed me to tut at myself for the flaws I believed existed and just thought better of giving a damn.

      Something I should probably learn to do more.

  6. Great review Ben, probably at least 4.5 to me. I didn’t have any issues at all with it.

    I definitely see the attraction with Elizabeth Olsen, she’s my new crush ;-) I always had a huge crush when I was younger on the Olsen twins (before they were doped up). So it’s all full circle!

  7. Just an amazing movie. And I know its because I’m such a big Godzilla nerd but I hadn’t been this excited for a movie in many years.

    I think for me this was in between a 4 and 4.5 (4.25?) only a few nitpick things here and there and while I feel like there was plenty of monster action, I think there could have been just that little bit more. And just had the slightest bit complaint with the way Godzilla looked at certain angles, specifically from his neck up.

    Either way though, definitely going to see this again! And looking forward to you all’s thoughts on the podcast Ben!

  8. Terrible movie.

    • how so?

      • I think that was sarcasm.

    • Care to elaborate? I saw it last night and thought it was great.

    • I have to agree.
      I’m not understanding why this is getting such high reviews.
      For an action movie, nothing really seems to happen for the first hour and 45 minutes.
      For the human portion of the film… after Cranton’s scenes… the main character is very uninteresting and the military’s responses seem incredibly unrealistic.
      I kept asking the question, “they do realize these creatures have EMP, right?”
      And the bulk of human attacks were made by hand guns and assault rifles? alright.
      I also didn’t really care for the monster’s designs in this.
      Godzilla was pretty cool… but has little screen time… and most of that time is a shot of his foot or tail.

  9. I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars as well. Some parts underwhelmed and at times the slow burn to the reveal was annoying, but overall it was a very well-made and epic monster movie. Godzilla killing the MUTO’s was freakin’ beautiful. They also did a great job of making it a solo film while also teasing the possibility of future installments.

    • Was it really a slow burn to the reveal? They showed the big guy in full at around the halfway point and then from that point showed him numerous times.

  10. Godzilla was incredibly boring. The character development was flimsy, 3/4 of the film was buildup (which wasnt that well done) that led to a payoff that was poorly executed. Ill give them the few commercial ready shots that were cool, but outside of that I left the movie extremely unsatisfied. Also—- I went with 6 other people, 3 being huge Godzilla fans and every one of them dissapointed.

    • I totally agree.
      The scenes that were showing up on the news… I kept watching that and thinking… why are we focused on the kid at home and the soldier puttering around while something is actually happening?

    • I’m going to re-watch the 1998 version to wash the taste of this one out of my mouth.
      We have the special effects to make a truly beautiful monster, so why make him look like a guy in a suit? A morbidly obese guy, for that matter. I cannot take a Godzilla this fat at all seriously. Especially with his tiny head.
      The Emmerich version was far scarier because it could run, whereas this one just waddles.
      Admittedly the atomic breath bit was awesome, but as far as giant monster fight scenes go, Pacific Rim wins hands down.

  11. Awesome movie!
    I know I’m not a kid anymore.. But it has that First Jurassic Park amazement fell when i watch this movie.
    The Godzilla’s screen time always get the whole theater excited. And we literally cheering for him. It’s amazing.

    I don’t know if it’s because of that com room or David Strathairn, but i was expecting Moby’s Extreme Ways to play by the end of that movie. …or whenever he popped-out out of no where and kicking them pokemon’s ass.

  12. 9/10

    Needed a bit more Cranston and human drama, plus the ending was a bit cheesy but besides that the film was excellent.

    • Not enuff human drama? Did you forget the train scenes? how about the bridge scene?or the boat? or on the ship? there was drama all over this movie!!! You didnt need Cranston to keep goin on like he was in the first half of the film for the rest of the film. I agree some of the writing was poorly done-pretty much on the same scale as a Transformers film. Yes the film was slow-almost too slow,as a viewer, you shouldn’t have enough time to question issues in the screenplay…yes there was alot of dumbness in the film,like the whole situation between Ford and his wife not being able to talk to each other,though ridickulous was unfortunately believable(women just cant answer the phone nor lie well)and the fact that humans couldn’t conceive the idea that these monsters could move faster versus their time to escape or move a nuke to San Fran.and the fact that Ford just happened to be in the same place and time as the monsters…However it was better than the last Godzilla film and to compare this film to the dated 50s films is just stupid and without merit. For a first film and reboot,it was definitely a great popcorn movie..hopefully they will fix the stupidity of the screenplay in the next film.

  13. Im really surprised at all the positive reviews. Typically that makes me want to see it again but it was so incredibly boring that I don’t even want to give it another shot.

  14. Was curious, anyone read the Time’s review of Godzilla? Lol, this guy is nuts. Nothing happening in 2/3 of the film? He wanted more action, more Godzilla and then ends it with “…lacking a magnetic story, a package without a product”. Geesh, GL with any any woman who has to put up with this guy lol.

    • Dude, the first 2/3 of the movie was the soldier’s story… which was boring. You knew he was going to get out of it alright and back home to his family. And if he didn’t, did you really care?
      I was more invested in Cranston uncovering the mystery and avenging his wife… and that story fizzled out pretty quick.
      The last 15minutes of the movie they finally reveal Godzilla and it’s a quick fight.

      • Dude…they revealed Godzilla at about the halfway point.

        • They teased Godzilla at the halfway point. Spine in the water… a roar… a tail

  15. Guys I’ll be honest
    I paid to see some monster on monster action.
    Not military maneuvers or drama.
    It was me for me.
    The most disappointing thing to me was whenever we wish the fight is going to begin they cut to another scene.
    Anyway The last 15 minutes were worth it.
    If there’s a sequel (there will definitely be)
    please give more screen time to the friggin titular character not the people running away from it.
    [SPOILER DELETED - SR]

    • Thanks for the spoiler, d*ck.

  16. This is pretty horrid film.

    No emotional connection, no strong characters. One of those films I wish I could have gotten my 2 hours back.

  17. Thank god!

    SR proved that early reviews from other websites shouldn’t be trusted anymore.

    Great review Ben, thanks!

  18. Saw it yesterday and loved it. It really has the slow build up to more and more tension that I love about movies like Jaws or Close Encounters of the Third kind, all culminating in an epic showdown at the end. It took itself serious like a proper disaster movie and all the monster scenes were fantastic, especially during the finale. Yeah, the human characters don’t crack jokes and there is very little humor to be had in general, but that makes the terror of the monsters wreaking havoc all the more impactful and real.

    The visual effects were fantastic, so where the sound effects and the music. Godzillas roar gave me chills, and when Godzilla…

    SPOILER
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    Finally uses his atomic breath
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    SPOILER END

    …it was time for goosebumps. They only complain I have about the movie is that Cranston’s acting was pretty hammy. He seems to be so worried about making his movie performances different from Walter White that all the subtleties go out the window. Mr. Cransons, please take a page from Godzilla’s playbook: less is more!

    Except for that little bump an excellent movie, and possibly the best monster flick that I’ve seen, and I’ve seen them all.

    4.5/5

  19. This is somewhat off topic but I thought the Interstellar trailer was suppose to be attached to Godzilla?

    • I got an Interstellar trailer before my screening here in Australia…

    • Yeah WTF?! I didn’t get the Interstellar trailer either…

  20. Going to see this tomorrow,looking forward to it.

  21. Remember the trailer of them parachuting down into the city with the ominous music, I thought it was an awesome trailer and was really stoked to see this. However I have to say, unfortunately, the rest of the film for me does not do the trailer justice. While that bit in the film is great and some of the set pieces and action (especially the end) is quite good, I felt overall it was slightly disappointing. The acting was mostly wooden, Ken Watanabe just stands there mouth agape muttering, Taylor-Johnson just goes from pained expression to pained expression, Elizabeth Olsen just frowns and answers the phone and is hardly on screen. Cranston was great I have to say. I would not go see it again, but at least it was better than the last attempt.

  22. I agree with Neil Citter, an absolute bore.
    The trailer was not a true reflection on the film. Why is it being credited with Godzilla not being it so much but focusing on human stories. The trailer is better than the film. they should have called it The Fords

  23. Loved it! Aaron Taylor-Johnson gave a career best performance and the rest of the cast we’re great. The build up was interesting enough and the second half was definitely a pay-off. If there was one thing I wanted more of, it would be more Cranston & Olsen.

    • Career best performance? Are we talking about the same film? I take it this is the only Taylor-Johnson film you have seen then?

  24. Long, some times frustratingly so, foreplay that leads to some great sex.

    Def worth a Theater visit.
    I highly reco this film.

  25. Seeing this Sunday afternoon and I’m pretty excited.

    I decided earlier this month to forego seeing Spiderman 2 in the theater in favor of seeing this and from what I can tell I made the right decision.

  26. Wow Screenrant I would have loved to have seen a copy of the movie you viewed. Look man, this so called “human drama” was so cliche… Typical “I have to get back to my family BS.” Godzilla was a background character. And mean waaaay in the back! I’m not saying the movie was terrible. I give it 3/5.. But come on.. Also I don’t mind a slow burn build up in a flick as long as the end result is sastifying. It was so-so.

  27. Booked my ticket for 10:00am on Monday morning. Hopefully they’ll be no one else in the theatre. I CANT WAIT!!!!!

  28. Saw the film last night at the 8pm screening at my local theater. I went into the film with high expectations and left a bit underwhelmed. I thought I would see the Mighty Godzilla battle throughout the film, instead what I saw was something entirely different. The film is quite the slow burn, creating tension; well in my case frustration. I wondered where is Godzilla? Why are we getting to know about “the other monsters” more than THE Godzilla? Then once the “fighting” between Godzilla and the “other monsters” (dont want to spoil anything) ensues it was pretty boring. Now what the film does have is great amount of human interaction, human emotion and was more of a character driven film. I did love the acting from all the actors involved. The set design was something that really stuck with me after leaving the film so I have to say that the team behind that did an excellent job. The CGI was good, not great, and the editing was also quite good. The sound design, sound effects etc. were also appeasing to my ears (I did enjoy Godzillas roar) Overall for me the film was OK. out of a score of 10 I give it about a 6

  29. OK, so from all reviews i gather that i need to go to the theater and ask if i can pay only half price for the ticket since i only intend to watch the second half of the movie, you know the half that actually has the title monster!

    • Half is being kind. I kept looking down at my watch during the movie. Movie is about 2 hours long and Godzilla doesn’t show up until at least an hour and 45minutes.

      • That’s a lie. Godzilla showed up atleast 45 minutes into the movie.

        • Yeah, these guys apparently are real crappy judges of time. If he shows up with 15 minutes left in the movie then somehow that 15 minutes is magically stretched into an hour.

        • He’s only teased for the first part of the movie. A spine in the water, a foot walking around town… they reveal what he looks like for a moment… then cut back to the military guy.
          The movie I was hoping to see was playing in the background on their news stations… instead we got a story about a soldier trying to get home to his family.

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