Movie Review
Godzilla (2014)
Godzilla (2014) poster
By Lee Tistaert     Published May 16, 2014
US Release: May 16, 2014

Directed by: Gareth Edwards
Starring: Bryan Cranston , Elizabeth Olsen , Aaron Taylor-Johnson

PG-13 for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence
Running Time: 123 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $200,164,000
C
49 of 111
Everything within {its} grand scale just sucks too much.
Wow. And I thought this movie was going to avoid cheesiness. I was amazed because the trailer had me sold on one kind of movie even though I wasn’t positive I was going to like it, and then the movie that unfolded was the polar opposite of what I watched in advertisements. And I was amazed because this 2014 version of Godzilla wasn’t any better than the travesty that was the 1998 version, and I was pretty damn sure this was going to be better – the movie in which that movie was supposed to be. I don’t think anybody over the age of maybe 12, or maybe 15, enjoyed the version that came out back then. Another thing: I showed up for a hopefully cool movie called Godzilla and not for the sequel to Pacific Rim. Both of these movies share a lot in common – they are overloaded with cheese and unnecessary elements.

And the baffling part is, many critics actually liked the cheese, and I thought they are supposed to be smart people. If you’re looking for a mature event film that handles everything intelligently and gives you a popcorn adventure at the same time, begging you to come back, this Godzilla won’t be for you. The trailer was misleading for the last six months and that is the tragic part about this experience. The trailer’s not cheesy at all and leads you to believe everybody here is going to be on their A-game. But imagine my surprise when the story and acting was corny as hell right from the beginning and never really swayed from the path of destroying what looked cool about this property. This is one of the reasons why I don’t look forward to many movies in a year – so many times it’s just not what I wanted.

You can have high hopes for a movie and be convinced it’s going to be good and then you’re slapped in the face immediately and you sit there wondering why you had anticipated this experience at all. And I wasn’t even really anticipating this movie; it just looked better than most things that came before it. There was a moment early on in the movie when I thought, wait, this could actually break the spell of tedium and actually give me something to recommend – but as usual when something like that may happen, what proceeded didn’t satisfy and I was just sitting there thinking about my own vision of it.

There’s a sequence early on that makes you think of Jurassic Park, including the soundtrack, but what you don’t count on happening is that the director has no idea how to sustain that level of nostalgia. Just when you think we might be heading into this fantastical imagination-land sequence, the rug gets pulled from beneath you and the director just points at you and laughs and tells you that he’s tricked you. Then he tells you that it’s his vision and not yours and that you’re going to have to deal with his nonsense. So you end up sitting there disgruntled at this hack director who is utterly convinced his movie kicks ass.

You want to tell him the proper way it should’ve been handled but then he just walks away from you. And you know he’s going to tell you: “Look, guy, I know how this is done and you don’t know anything.” I’m not sure which is funnier – that response or the performance-levels he gets from most of his actors. I know it’s called Godzilla and originated in Japan where people don’t know how to act and that was part of the charm of the early franchise, but moviegoers in America don’t want to be forced to laugh at you. A Godzilla movie doesn’t need to be cheesy and shouldn’t be with today’s technology and great minds. There was one push-in close-up shot of Ken Watanabe where he gives a super-serious one-liner in the most over-the-top manner possible and I felt like I had just stumbled onto a clip of Mystery Science Theater – I was imagining the two robots and their smart-ass friend screaming: “I really love your work!”

I thought this was going to be about Godzilla wreaking havoc in society and the human fight for survival in a society going to chaos. It is kind of about that but it also kind of isn’t – the writing is so bad that you don’t care about anything, and you don’t care what this Godzilla ends up doing. Godzilla’s not even attacking society – he spends most of the time battling random creatures that decide to appear out of nowhere and get into a fist-fight. Society just kind of watches as these nonsensical beings duke a war. I wasn’t even asking for a great or even super-believable story as long as the action delivered adequately. Peter Jackson’s King Kong had a lame script but he did something very admirable: He made you care about King Kong. That movie had flaws but my jaw was on the floor because I actually felt for the big monster. The monster can’t even speak but it was in the visual effects that its performance came out. This Godzilla doesn’t do anything but extend himself up into the air and breathe fire trying to look mean.

Even trailer moments that made you think they were trying for intense drama turn out to be a hoax. You’re waiting for Bryan Cranston to hysterically scream out to officials: “I know…that you’re hiding something out there!” and when he delivers this line in the very beginning in complete corn-ball fashion, it’s amazing how trailers can make moments seem better. I was watching this scene and thinking: “Wow. Had I known this was going to play out like this, I would’ve had a different attitude going in.” I was thinking that through many moments through the movie because this wasn’t what I showed up for. You’d also think that David Strathairn would turn in a credible performance, usually being a man of quality, and all I could see was a paycheck being cashed as he just followed orders from a bad director. The movie reaches levels of over-seriousness that cross the line and turn it into unintentional comedy.

The only real thing worth saying anything positive on is the grand scale of the overall production, because it wants to feel and be really big but the contents in that basket leave one longing for actual quality. It gives a lame and cringe-worthy script to a couple of good people and then it’s captured in a tone and vision that just highlights how much of a re-write this project needed. This movie should’ve been good or at least fun on a guilty pleasure level and no doubt the director thinks it is and that’s embarrassing. You can tell he’s in love with himself and he wants to cash in at the box office and he’s going to succeed because of the grand scale, but everything within that grand scale just sucks too much.
Lee's Grade: C
Ranked #49 of 111 between Captain America 2 (#48) and Shadow Recruit (#50) for 2014 movies.
Lee's Overall Grading: 2918 graded movies
A0.4%
B29.5%
C62.0%
D8.1%
F0.0%
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'Godzilla (2014)' Articles
  • Scott's review C
    May 16, 2014    This movie promises something that it can not and does not deliver. -- Scott Sycamore
  • Box Office Outlook: Godzilla
    May 15, 2014    The tracking has Godzilla grossing $65 - 75 million, which would match the original's 3-day with inflation. -- Lee Tistaert