Thursday, May 29, 2014
When I was a young warthog, my grandfather and I would watch Godzilla all day, to the point that it bordered an unhealthy amount of television staring. I thought it was great because he thought it was great, and he thought it was even better because I thought it was great. Because of this nostalgic bond between grandfather, grandson, and giant lizard, there was no doubt that I would be checking out the new Godzilla film. Then, quite unexpectedly, the trailer for the film came out, and I think most people would agree that it was the most well-made trailer of 2014, thus far. Suddenly, a film that I was planning to view solely for nostalgic purposes turned into a film that I was planning to view because it looked like it would be freakin awesome! My expectations for Godzilla have gradually risen over the past four or five months, to the point that it made my list of five most anticipated dramatic films for the entire summer. Yet, the question remained... Would Godzilla be the film that did nothing but bring back fond memories, or would it be the film that rocked my socks off?
Considering how predictable a Godzilla storyline tends to be, I have to say that I was fairly impressed with the way the story was delivered. There was nothing too groundbreaking about the plot, but at least it was entertaining. Additionally, the story did a great job of focusing on family relationships, particularly the father/son relationship, which is not something you necessarily expect to take away from a film about a giant green lizard. My biggest problem was with the over-dramatization of Godzilla's screams? barks? howls?... whatever you call it when he opens his mouth and makes noise. Personally, I love that sound, mostly because it means "Godzilla is about to do something epic!" However, the dramatization of the noise, each and every time that he made the sound, shut out all music, all gunfire, all explosions, all discussion, and all everything, which made it come off as a bit "over-done," in my opinion. On the other hand, the skydiving above Godzilla scene pretty much made me forget anything bad to that point, on account of its being awesome.
As I said previously, the family relationship really brought out something in the film that is typically lacking when viewing any Godzilla film. The only thing that would have made it better was if Godzilla would have had some sort of family to rescue as well... I'm just kidding... That would've certainly been overkill.
I really like what Ken Watanabe brings to the table, in pretty much any film, with his whole barely-understandable-dramatic voice and Japaneseness. However, I don't think he was really given a good tie-in to the film, as scientist, Dr. Ishiro Serizawa. There was something missing to connect the science to the real-life, and I feel like he should have brought it. At the same time, I may have missed everything he said or tried to say (you really can't understand him), due to the terribly insignificant distraction that was Sally Hawkins' Vivienne Graham. Unfortunately for Hawkins, the launch of her post-Blue Jasmine career took a huge shot in the arm, courtesy of Godzilla.
The relationship between Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) and his son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) was the absolute key to making this entire film work, and both actors did a great job in their respective roles. There is no doubt in my mind that Bryan Cranston gave the best male dramatic performance that I had yet to see in 2014 (until James McAvoy stole the crown a few days later). This man can seriously act, and I think he has a very bright post-Breaking Bad career ahead of him. My hope is that he is not forever defined by Walter White, because he really is great. As good as the Ford character was, he now holds the record for a non-superhero avoiding the most near-death experiences. The guy never really got caught or anything. He is just one lucky dude.
Godzilla was not the greatest action film ever made, but I did enjoy myself. On top of that, the heart of the film was great and unexpected, which always makes for a nice surprise. As for nostalgic value, technology has pretty much erased all hope of really getting the same Godzilla feel from the old black and white films. On top of that, I'm not sure the film what quite as epic as the trailer set it up to be, but, thankfully, I did get to bring with me an awesome guest, who added ample amounts of value to the film... my grandfather. Add my guest of honor to a pretty good film, and you have yourself a winner. I give nostalgia 4.99 out 5 stars. I give Godzilla 3.23 out of 5 stars.