If you’re trying to completely submerge yourself from any details of any kind before seeing the movie – here’s the super-short version: Godzilla is back, and better than ever.
Cast and Crew
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Ford Brody
Ken Watanabe as Dr. Ichiro Serizawa
Bryan Cranston as Joe Brody
Elizabeth Olsen as Elle Brody
Carson Bolde as Sam Brody
Sally Hawkins as Vivienne Graham
Juliette Binoche as Sandra Brody
David Strathairn as Admiral William Stenz
Written by Max Borenstein
Story by David Callaham
Directed by Gareth Edwards
In 1953, mankind discovered something in the Pacific Ocean. It was big, it was dangerous, and we tried to kill it with nuclear weapons, and officially covered it up with nuclear weapon tests. It didn’t work.
In 1999, a nuclear reactor in Japan goes critical after what appears to have been a series of earthquakes – except it’s not earthquakes, it’s another colossal life form.
In 2014, the life form, which had been lying dormant in the ruins of the reactor, becomes active, and starts heading west, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. Conventional weapons don’t work on it, and it eats radioactive material. Mankind’s only hope may lie in the monster Humanity tried to destroy in the 1950’s. A monster called – Godzilla.
From the last trailer, and of course the movie itself, from Dr. Serizawa: “It is the arrogance of man to think that nature is under our control, and not the other way around. Let them fight.”
By way of something of an explanation – the original Godzilla film drew a great deal of visual allegory to the devastation caused by the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, particularly through the rooms full of patients with radiation burns following Godzilla’s attack on Tokyo. This movie draws connections to some of the disasters that have occurred since then – with the after math of the reactor disaster drawing connections to the Fukushima Daiichi and Chernobyl disasters. The kaiju – not only Godzilla, but also the two monsters the Big G fights, called MUTOs – cause tsunamis as they come to shore, and are filmed in fashions that reference the home movie footage of the tsunamis in the Philippines and in Japan.
Also, while in the 1998 Godzilla film, the Big G didn’t have his radioactive breath. Here, his breath is in full effect.
The MUTOs themselves are very well animated, and are each fully realized characters and act like you’d expect animals to act.
Of the three cities to be attacked by kaiju – we only really get to see one of the three attacked – San Francisco. The rest we either see the aftermath, or see bits and pieces of the fight.
Also, Sally Hawkins doesn’t have much to do as Vivianne Graham. She’s basically just there to echo Serizawa’s thoughts on whatever’s going on.
Originality: This is something of a new backstory for Godzilla, with a brand new enemy. The film also focuses on the human reaction to dealing with all these kaiju more than any other Godzilla film since the original – while still having a big monster fight. 4/6
Effects: Godzilla has never looked better. He’s bigger than he’s ever been, in any incarnation, and he has weight and a natural movement, without looking fake. The destruction the monsters leave in their wake feels realistic, and likewise has weight to it – as opposed to the flimsy miniatures in the classic Godzilla films. 6/6
Story: The story is well put together, and while the scientific justification for the Kaiju is a little rough, the rest of the work is just fine. 5/6
Acting: The acting is pretty good, particularly Ken Watanabe’s evolving perspective on the monsters. 4/6
Production: The film is very well put together. In particular, the framing of the film does an amazing job at setting up the size of the monsters. When we first see any of the monsters, Edwards puts humans in the foreground to give the monsters a sense of scale. Additionally, Godzilla’s new roar (which has been used in the trailers) is incredibly effective in a theater sound system, with the added rumble at the end really putting a chill on your spine. 5/6
Emotional Response: When we finally get our big monster fight, it is intense and exhilarating. However, before we get to this fight, we get a bunch of excellently written small human moments, which put some context on the people on the ground who are caught in the middle of these colossal forces that are beyond the control of man. 5/6
Overall: I’d compare this film favorably to the original Godzilla film, though the Big G is more heroic here than he is in the original film (in the sense that in the original he was the only monster in the film, and consequently was the antagonist, whereas here he’s something of an anti-hero). 5/6
In total, Godzilla (2014) gets 34/42.