Alright, this review is going to contain spoilers, but I want to devote this opening paragraph to providing a quick opinion for those who still want to see Godzilla. It’s bad. Really bad. And the trailers lied to you. Bryan Cranston is barely in the film. Godzilla himself is barely in the film. There are some good parts in the beginning fifteen minutes and some good parts in the last fifteen minutes, but the other 95% of this film is pure garbage. That 95% is about as bad as your average Transformers movie. I strongly recommend that you don’t waste your time and money on this one. Still want to go see it? Then stop reading here, because it’s time to get to the details.
The good parts in the film’s opening come down to two words: Bryan Cranston. Cranston plays a man driven to obsession by the loss of his wife in a nuclear power plant meltdown, which he believes was caused by something other than a natural earthquake. Of course, he’s right, and just as he begins to uncover the truth, the monster responsible, called MUTO, awakens from incubation and starts wreaking havoc. Cranston is by far the best actor in this movie, and he could have easily carried the rest of the film’s cast… if he weren’t killed off before the film’s first act is even over. Seriously, the film spends a ridiculous amount of time establishing Cranston as the protagonist, only to kill him off and shift focus to his much less interesting son.
And let’s talk about this son, because he is emblematic of just about everything else wrong with this movie. You see, the driving force of the plot in this film is the emergence of two MUTOs that are destroying cities in an attempt to get together and mate. The son character, named Brody Ford (the most excessively American name I’ve ever heard), is a member of the armed forces and works his way into the operations to take down the MUTOs. And the focus of the film is on him and his entirely bland personality. There is nothing interesting about this guy or his motivation of reuniting with his family in the wake of the monster attacks. It’s the same clichéd thing we’ve seen in every disaster film ever made, and the film brings no character into the picture to keep it feeling fresh.
Instead, we have a film about nameless military dudes showing off their military hardware and ineffectually doing brave military things against giant monsters. Now, I wouldn’t mind the idea of a military-versus-monsters film except for one thing: THE NAME OF THE MOVIE IS GODZILLA! Notice how I haven’t gotten around to mentioning him yet? Well, that’s because Godzilla is pretty much a background character in his own movie. In light of the MUTO storyline, he feels like an afterthought, only showing up to fight them because… reasons. The film constantly teases a fight between the MUTOs and Godzilla, but whenever the monsters are in close proximity to one another, the film cuts to the aftermath of the destruction, resuming the boring, military ass-kissing story that ultimately has very little impact on the outcome of the plot.
I do have to say that when the film finally does show the final fight between Godzilla and the MUTOs, for the most part, it’s pretty awesome. The main problem is that it keeps cutting away to Brody and his all-important quest to do fuck-all, so that less than half the climax is devoted to the monsters. It feels like a massive cheat. I normally wouldn’t be upset about not seeing the kind of movie I was expecting to see, but when that movie is so poorly executed, while simultaneously teasing that something better is on the way, and then mostly failing to deliver, I can’t help but feel like I was lured into the movie theater under false pretenses. I wanted to see a movie about monsters beating each other up. Instead, I got a military recruitment video with a few monster clips here and there. Please, do not go see this movie in theaters. If you must see it, rent it when it comes out on home video. But I implore you, don’t spend your money at the theater. That will only encourage filmmakers to cheat us again in the future.
Have a film you were looking forward to that was way below your expectations? Leave a comment below to tell me what it is.