‘Godzilla’ Review

Published 5 months ago by , Updated October 7th, 2014 at 1:28 am,

Godzilla Movie Poster 2014 Godzilla Review

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.

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

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  1. the film need MORE Godzilla and LESS Human.

    • So dissapointed!! Godzilla’s screen time is about 18 mintues in a movie that ran 2 hours, 6 mins! And I dont need to see Godzilla on screen in the first 5 minutes of the movie but to make us wait one hour and then tease us with small shots of the great beast is just plain mean!! The story line could have been so much better and Bryan Cranston needed to be in this movie longer!! UGH!…I want my $ back.

  2. Worst movie I have seen in a long time. If you like CGI monsters and special effects, you MAY like this movie. The plot wasn’t the best, the acting was just OK and the ending? Made me laugh. Such a disappointment IMO.

    • What made you laugh?

    • this guy hasnt seen the movie. ignore him

  3. Really a thrilling movie it is

  4. The music was thrilling. Gave me chills when they were dropping out of the plane to go after the nuke.

    Can anyone help me find this song? I’ve played the OST on youtube and it doesn’t seem to be on there.

    • I think I found it. I hear bits of it in tracks 9-11 & 14.

    • The soundtrack was composed by Alexandre Desplat, but that track you’re talking about I think it was not. That song was also played at the end of the second movie trailer, and I think is this one:

    • Its this one! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PH0pTGYJ63k

      • Heard many years ago in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Check out THAT soundtrack.

  5. GODZILLA NON-SPOILER ALERT!!!

    If you have trouble sleeping & would much rather avoid taking a sedative, then your best option is to see this film. Never have I struggled to remain awake while watching a blockbuster sci-fi flick. In fact, I would much rather sit through a 24 hour marathon of “Superman Returns” (another film I can’t stand) before investing another 2 hours of my time on Godzilla.
    I just felt that the overall advertising campaign leading up to the film’s release was deceptive. First we were all lead to believe that Bryan Cranston would be the star, only to discover that it was basically a boring military movie entitled “FORD BRODY” (the name of his son) with a special guest cameo appearance by Godzilla.
    Those earlier trailers had me convinced that they were going in the direction of apocalyptic proportions & complete utter hopelessness. Something I was very much for as it would fall along the lines of the original 1954 storyline. What did we get instead? Another chapter of “GODZILLA VS who.”

    The strangest part is that it’s actually receiving decent reviews (the critics must have been paid very handsomely to be nice). Anyway, I am now convinced that GODZILLA is already on it’s way to becoming the next SUPERMAN RETURNS. It received a very similar response at first (mostly because of the already giddy fan-base who were beyond happy to see him back on the silver screen) only to be exposed for the bad movie it really is by the time it was released on DVD & Blu-ray. Overall those who claim to like this film are mostly responding to THE BRAND above anything else & had it been another anonymous monster, then they too would express the same disappointment. It’s no wonder why Hollywood continues to churn out remakes & revisions of cancelled television shows…as David Hannum once said in criticism of PT Barnum, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” Overall, GODZILLA is just another waited opportunity. Come to think of it, the only real good reason to purchase the Blu-ray is to get a good night’s sleep. Especially if you have a very important job interview the next morning.

    • nckissfan – I agree with you 100%. This movie is the biggest letdown of the year.

  6. Oh…someone actually LIKED the boring “character development” with the wife? Well, I’ll be damned.

    Godzilla rocked though, just wished they’d stop flicking it back to Ford scuttling about the place.

  7. Too many negative reviews by the audience in each and every site. Not gonna go for this one now. Instead will go for Xmen DOFP next week.

    • Yeah, I’d say it was a good movie but if you ask me if it lived up to the hype I would tell you no. The teasing up to the big reveal just didn’t work and Cranston was just average in this film. Godzilla was cool and all but the actual good stuff is towards the end of the movie. I had soo many friends that are huge Godzilla fans leave the theatre somewhat disappointed. If people ask me about whether they should see it or wait for the DVD then I just tell them to wait

  8. Ohh it was too much teasing throughout the movie. They tease us till the end and when our expectations are beyond anything they can satisfy, they let us down. Ending was good but the waiting and waiting and teasing was just too much till the end and we get just bored of sorts!! Whatever the ending we don’t care by that time. Should have given a little more Godzilla throughout the movie. The approach doesn’t work!!

  9. My friends saw it last night and said it was too average for all the expectations that we had from the trailers and clips leading up to the release! End fight sequence is good and some scenes of human drama are worth it but rest of it is just passing the time and teasing the audience and playing with us and our interest to watch Godzilla!!

  10. I thought the whole affair was very muted and Godzilla lacked personality. The movie as a whole was pretty damn good, but the cut scenes were driving me batty. One minute you see them engage or about to engage and BAM, they cut to one of the humans talking. The next thing you know the monsters are somewhere else and you’re wondering WTF happened?
    Now for the Fanboy part… Godzilla’s thermonuclear blast was anemic. It didn’t show any impact at all, not to the monsters or the surrounding buildings.

  11. I completely agree with the review, but I don’t agree with these user comments AT ALL. Anyone who didn’t like this movie must’ve been expecting two hours of nonstop action, which would be ridiculous. It may have been somewhat of a slow reveal, but be patient. If we saw Godzilla within the first five minutes it wouldn’t have nearly the same effect. And people say this movie was boring? They must have been watching the wrong movie. I wish Bryan Cranston had some more screen time, but after awhile it didn’t matter as much. I definitely recommend seeing this in IMAX 3D. Nearly every scene blew my mind. Also, why do people seem to think the film focused too much on Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s character? He was definitely the main human protagonist, but I felt like the screen time was pretty evenly split and there was still plenty of monster action. I don’t understand all the hate this movie is getting. I might even see it in IMAX again.

    • Thank you for writing what I was thinking! The movie was everything I wanted it to be; and everyone saying all the “good stuff happened at the end” I’m guessing also get impatient when their internet doesn’t load fast enough. It’s good to have a little build-up, people! But it kept me interested throughout, so I must be of the older, more patient generation. ;) The only thing I would say is I love Ken Watanabe as an actor, but it seems like all he did was stare off with glazed eyes and mouth agape in every scene. Though if I was confronted with giant beasts tearing up everything in my world, I may react the same.

    • I cant imagine of all the people the amount of Godzilla lovers ragging on the amount of time it took Godzilla to actually show up in the film. IN actuality, He was in it a lot earlier than I thought he would be. Going on the things I had heard about. I had been watching a Godzilla film everyday up to the 17th which was when I saw it at the IMAX 3D theater. And during the second series of Godzilla, I was watching Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah. IN that movie Godzilla Him self didn’t show up until almost 45mins into it. I don’t really have a problem with it, since I know that I rather enjoy a big build up.
      I thought Godzilla, was a fantastically fun movie, beautifully written and played out by a great line of actors and actresses. They could have given Elizabeth Olsen a bit more to do, but the film explored the human drama as well as the monster appearances.
      Just to see the giant dorsal spines sticking up out of the water and not being bothered by the ships following it, was a great scene. The scenes especially when Godzilla fights the MUTO for the first time and it cuts away to the TV showing the battle, was a really smart scene. Giving you a little taste of what you will see eventually. But a lot of scenes in the film were almost taken directly form Gareth Edwards first movie, “Monsters”. And it all worked.
      I really think that half the people making comments haven’t either seen it yet or are just jumping on the band wagon on ragging on it.
      Give it its due. It was a smart and fun film and the chill of his roar as well as this Breath were outstanding.
      I’ll probably see it a few more times.

  12. I wanted to take my 9 year old but the Missus said “Nope.Ain’t gonna happen”
    so I went with my co-workers instead, she was right .This new Godzilla movie may be a bit scary for a 9 year old.

    But, WOW! the CGI’s were amazing! a good entertaining Monster/Disaster movie, though the ending was a bit flat. Can’t wait for the DVD.

    • Scary? really? at what point did you jump out of your seat? C’mon now a 9 yr old would’ve been bored to tears.. My 7 yr old fell asleep before the end.

  13. Where are the Jaegers when you need them ?

  14. All style no substance, acting subpar at best. They killed the best actors off, right in the beginning. Story was Moderate. I got sick and tired of all the dramatic scenes of the introduction of Monsters, before each city the Monster went too. Aaron Taylor Johnson with all his experience was probably the worst actor (not going to be thrilled with his Quicksilver portrayal). The olson girl was pretty good.

    • I actually though Aaron Taylor Johnson was what kept me the most interested in the movie not named Godzilla. I thought he did an outstanding job and thought Cranston was the worst of the main actors. I just didn’t like his portrayal for some reason. The film was good and had some substance but I felt they missed some opportunities to make this film something special.

  15. Surprised at the 4 out of 5 review. I personally found the film really dull. The Human characters were totally useless, which normally wouldn’t bother me in a monster movie except that this was a monster movie that wanted to show the humans more than the monsters. And before I get jumped on by people saying that I just wanted another ‘Pacific Rim’, No,I really didn’t – I was looking forward to a slow build, thought provoking creature feature that was fueled by a great plot and great characters but this movie really failed for me on that acount.

    • Yeah, I thought the build up to the reveal was meh and the reveal was okay. Godzilla itself was just amazing but the way it was done to reveal him I thought was poorly executed

  16. Movie was okay but hated the same familiar human drama that kinda took away from Godzilla. Reminds me of how much I disliked Transformers movies with the dramatic family element. Surprised they didne’t have a scene after the credits showing another monster soon to emerge. Overall a decent movie that made good use of 3D.

    • That’s funny. You’re about the 10th person I heard today say that it reminded them about all the things that were bad about Transformers. I thought Godzilla was okay but not as bad as Transformers. I guess I don’t see what others are seeing. One guy told me that it reminded him of Transformers because like Transformers they had more focus on the human element rather than the actual Robots or in Gozilla’s case, Godzilla. Another person told me that they didn’t care about the human element but that it reminded them of Transformers because there wasn’t enough substance in the overall story. Amazing

      • @JaredDac this was no where like Transformers.. Transformers 1 and 2 had better fight scenes than this film did..

  17. I’m so happy that Godzilla’s original film way back during my childhood returned to the screen. I enjoyed much and my daughter of 21 years old rated this film more than other films.

    My comments was simply for the movie trailer. If the other giants were shown in the trailer, more Children would love to watch film. But,i was surprised. Godzilla against the destructive giants, whom we love to watch from the beginning.

    On the other hand, i was frustrated with the previous Godzilla movie.

    This Movie made it with excellent remarks.

  18. Literally crap. Monsters that grow out of radioactivity, godzilla that hears their sound and tries to hunt them (what for? he does not eat them). Soliders that carry the ICBM missiles, instead of just the nuclear bombs (never mind, if you reached this point, you are probably drunk). Soldiers that activate a nuke bomb within a major US city. The actors are a joke, the Seinfeld dentist over-reacts to everything. His son, is a sort of robot: he can’t be killed, but his acting is similar to a robot. The music is non-existent (compare to Pacific Rim). There is no character evolution, nothing. Ok, so this is a Hollywood movie, and is supposed to be a silly superficial FX movie? No way, the FX suck literally, nothing incredible. Oh yes, and godzilla appears 5 minutes.
    The only good news is that I got a free popcorn.

    • The other Kaiju are parasites. I’d suspect Godzilla was hunting them as a preemptive strike of sorts.

    • movies have gotten more expensive to watch and less filling over the years
      if they could all be as great as independence day, one of the great movies of all time
      the new star trek movies are terrible.
      I hate to see how star wars will be screwed up

  19. This was actually one of the most boring movies I’ve ever seen. How it has gotten such good reviews and ratings I will never know. It really lacks in the protagonist department, and in my opinion, Godzilla himself should have been said protagonist, but unfortunately the monster had to share screen time with some utterly boring plot threads and lacklustre performances, aside of course from Bryan Cranston, who was great but ultimately was just wasted.

  20. I am surprised alot of people thought the film was boring until the end fight scene. I thought there were excellent scenes before the end. The scene where juliette binoche died I felt was really sad and powerful and well acted. Also the scenes in San Francisco when the army fight godzilla on the bridge and ford’s kid is in the schoolbus were brilliant. Also I really enjoyed the scene when ford is with the other soldiers on the train and the muto attacks it. I throught that scene was very tense and I am suprised no one really mentions it

  21. Wow this movie was thw most dissapointing movie i have ever seen . Really a huge waste of money i have never fallen asleep in a mobie theatre and well i did 2 hours of nothing . And like 15 min of godzilla… Thos movie was mote about the stupid soldiers than anything else . ..

  22. I am disappointed that there is too much human story from actors that don’t look very real or interesting to me.
    I want a Godzilla movie not a hokey human interest story.

  23. I enjoyed it. I’m usually critical of characters that could’ve been written better, but the humans in this case did not bother me. They’re simple sketches, but they worked perfectly to put the focus on the monsters, IMHO. In Pacific Rim, the humans were a bit of a liability, but they weren’t’ here. They’re just back ground/subtext, as it should be.

    Bottom line, I just can’t think of how this film could have been much better. I applaud the restraint and the slowly-released atmosphere of mystery. What a great series of intense images, once things really got rolling.

    I approve.

  24. About 2/3 of the negative comments are definitely people trolling.

    • Normally I would agree but the word of mouth in my area is about the same as what these “trollers” are saying which leads me to believe they are not trolling but just stating their opinions. I found the movie okay but not great and didn’t live up to the hype surrounding the movie. I can see peoples points on both sides when it comes to this movie

  25. Here is how Godzilla could have been the most epic movie in history:
    http://n2history.com/2014/05/19/gozilla-2014/

  26. after the Prometheus review this is the second time I feel that I must have seen a different cut of this movie than the reviewer.
    the story was (even for a Godzilla movie) nonexistent, the characters were super flat and the dialogue bad. Watanabes character wasn`t used at all and Cranstons story arc was closed so incredibly anticlimatic, I nearly missed it. and don`t get me talking on the nostril snorting Godzilla.
    the first hour was really great and promising though, after that everything goes south. feels a lot like Edwards had to make too many bad compromises with the studio…

  27. I did not like this film. It really felt like a huge cop out. They kept saying they were going to return Godzilla “to his roots” and make him terrifying. They didn’t. I kept rolling my eyes whenever this film makd a dull and rather disheartening attempt to make Godzilla out to be some sort of hero. Making Godzilla a hero of any variety goes completely against what the original (the first movie) intended. In the original Godzilla actively sought out and destroyed cities and killed people. In this film he sorta just doesn’t. He kills people by accident. He even seems to avoid killing people, hence all the ducking under ships instead of ramming them! This Godzilla is so docile that the military is able to sail side by side with him! That’s F!@king disappointing. This film needed the other monsters because this film went through such great lengths to make this Godzilla seem heroic that having him onscreen at all would have been boring, seeing how he wasn’t interested in destroying humanity (like he should of). The ending made my eyes roll soooo much! I just kept thinking “Jeez. Why not put a cape on him while your at it!” This movie should have been what the trailers promised, but it wasn’t. I was looking forward to being scared of Godzilla, but I ended up being annoyed by the way this film presented him. I rather fear Godzilla, not root for him. Overall, this was a good film; very well put together. I hated it.

    • @john yeah i agree.. after watching Edwards’ MONSTERS film, you would’ve thought there would’ve been some scariness to the film, but there just wasn’t and i’m the type that get scared pretty easy..even my kid wasn’t scared with the monsters..

  28. It wasnt what I was expecting , now don’t get me wrong I liked it,but it focused way to much on the MUTO’s and despite being named Godzilla it doesnt really feature him much,im not going to complain about the human part because it’s important to the story and drives the plot forward plus I liked the characters , it needed to show more of the title Beast,I think it should have shown him some in the beginning ,tease him in the middle ,and show him at the end taking on the secondary beasts at the end,and Godzilla should have been malevolent like the original 54 film

  29. Pros:

    Performances: Cranston, Olsen and–to a lesser extent– Johnson (who mostly just stares into the sky with his mouth agape) were pretty good.

    Visuals: The effects were pretty seamless and the cinematography was really good (especially the abandoned city of Janjira)

    Spirit: Stayed true to the 1954 original while also making it work for a contemporary audience. All and all, Some pretty good fan-service in there.

    Cons:

    The Direction: This is where most people are divided. For me, as good as the actors were, the focus of the film was too dependent on them and NOT the giant MUTOs that were supposed to be kicking the crap out of each other. It was as if Godzilla and his foes were just after-thoughts in this movie.

    The musical score: It doesn’t work with the film’s more somber and grave tone, instead being loud, intense and absolutely jarring at times, creating a really weird juxtaposition between what’s seen and what’s heard.

    I feel that the criticism for this movie would have a different tone if the “protagonist” were some generic monster and NOT the cultural phenomenon that is Godzilla. Basically what’s happening here is that Godzilla-geeks are being blinded by any legitimate criticism of this film due to their unwavering fandom. It’s kinda sad really that this movie’s criticism is being fueled by brand power alone.