Directed by Gareth Edwards
Written by Max Borenstein, Dave Callaham
Starring Ken Watanabe, Bryan Cranston , Juliette Binoche
Elizabeth Olsen, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Running time 123 minutes
The King Of Monsters in my book and many others HAS to be Godzilla, so when this film debuted this spring I was both excited and apprehensive. The clips released made Godzilla look amazing, a much better realized modern version of my favorite monster of all time than the version we had back in 98 that I find difficult to even call Godzilla, oh and the roar when it finally broke what he would sound like I had shivers. You see I am of that lucky generation of kids that grew up watching the Toho Godzilla movies on Saturday afternoons. It was part of an awesome weekend tradition, wake up Saturday, watch some cartoons, do chores, watch more cartoons, then it was off to play for a little while, but by mid afternoon you would find me at a friends house tuning in for the Saturday afternoon features. Much to my happiness they were either some sort of classic horror film or (drum roll please) Toho Monster movies usually featuring Godzilla, oh the sheer joy!!!
I seriously feel bad for kids now yeah they have cartoon channels, genre specific channels all streaming or running 24/7 which is kind of nice but will never compare the week long wait and anticipation, the planning for and then ultimate pay off of the Saturdays which I grew up with, not just a day but an event in itself! These days helped shape my love for horror and for Toho Studios King of Monsters GODZILLA, making him feel more like a family member than I should probably admit, which is why it took me so long to get to this one. See once it hit theaters I immediately starting seeing the reviews and they were very mixed, this one was much too close to my heart to risk the public tears or inevitable deep anger that would come if they screwed this up yet again lol! But I have finally relented and with the highest of hopes due to the slight involvement of Toho studios once again I risked everything (ok so maybe it wasn't that big of a risk but ...) and took the plunge that I hoped would make me feel like a kid again...
Fast forward to modern day Cranstons' son is now grown, and in the military with a family of his own. He returns home on leave to find his father in trouble back in Japan thanks to a call from the consulate, and off he goes begrudgingly to his fathers rescue. We find his dad know a broken man, stuck in the tragedy of years before still trying to connect the dots and expose the truth, as the same strange occurrences from long ago begin to repeat themselves. Will he be able to put the pieces together in time to keep the past from repeating itself?
So you may have noticed something missing in all of that, something pretty big, with sharp teeth, and a roar... that's right I didn't mention anything about Godzilla or monsters. That would be because regardless of what the previews would have you believe the monster part of this Godzilla film feels much more like a side line than a focus.
The film isn't horrible Cranston himself puts in a really great performance but most of the cast is fairly forgettable. Its not that they suck they just don't stand out in any way, and I felt they could have been played by pretty much anyone as a result. The story itself does has some nice twists on the original tale that I was really happy with, they added an element of back story that was really cool to the mythos of Godzilla, but for the most part Godzilla felt more like a standard big budget action flick rather than a movie about the King of monsters.
I will say that this version of Godzilla is pretty awesome in the look and sound of the monster himself a thousand times more appealing than the more lizard like version from 98, and he does have a villain to fight in the giant Mutos. I wasn't as impressed with the Mutos as I was with Godzilla and maybe had I seen it on the big screen maybe they would have read better visually, but as it was I thought they were to angular causing a loss of detail for me in the select scenes they were in.
Quite simply the biggest issue I had with this film was the fact that Godzilla movies aren't about the actors, or the story they are about the monsters, the fights and the general destruction they cause, all the rest is just filler, and this movie did just the opposite. It focused on the drama of the story and the actors to push the movie when all we were really waiting for was the monsters. The monster part of the film was barely utilized, and every time they would make you believe something grand was going to happen by finally including them in scene they would cut away as soon as the action started, leaving me both disappointed and eventually just angry.
For me this film was just a big disappointment, I have no doubt that those who didn't grow up with the stories I did may view it very differently, the film wasn't a horrible film, its adequate and would probably be a good time for a lot of people a fun, popcorn eating escape from the usual offerings, and that's fine if that is what you are looking for. But I was looking for a Godzilla movie, filled with chaotic destruction and monster fights galore and this GODZILLA film is far from that, so once again my childhood hero takes a hit, but I will get over it, with the help of a ton of 60s - 90s old school Godzilla flicks with my family sitting around me, popcorn in laps as we re-introduce our kids to the Real King of Monster through the films that made us fall in love with him!