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Godzilla

Reviews
by Leonard Maltin
May 15, 2014 2:58 PM
28 Comments
  • |
Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Who says a big Hollywood monster movie has to be dumb? Godzilla is a terrific piece of entertainment that doesn’t insult its audience and gives us more than our money’s worth. Fans can rest assured that this easily eclipses the last American remake, from 1998, and builds on the established mythology of the fabled post-atomic monster who debuted in 1954. He is even referred to by his original Japanese name, Gojira. Screenwriter Max Borenstein and director Gareth Edwards generate a compelling premise, with credible characters, and build suspense every step of the way toward the movie’s spectacular conclusion.

That doesn’t mean they’ve tried to reinvent the wheel: the new Godzilla functions comfortably within the traditional playbook for films of this genre. Bryan Cranston plays an American scientist who’s obsessed with uncovering the truth behind a nuclear accident that occurred on his watch in Japan, fifteen years ago. Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins are researchers who may have some of the answers he seeks, although they work in secret. Aaron Taylor-Johnson plays Cranston’s son, who remembers the disaster that shook his world when he was just a boy, and thinks his father is crazy. Elizabeth Olsen is his loving wife. And David Strathairn is the military commander who seeks the most expedient way of dispatching the monstrous threat to civilization that has arisen.

While some of these characters are genre archetypes, I’m happy to say that the writing and acting never sinks to the level of cliché. In the same vein, director Edwards (a former visual effects whiz whose previous film, Monster, was made on a much smaller scale) knows how to stage and edit a scary scene where characters are in peril. He never loses the human touch, even in spectacular scenes of destruction, and as the unfolding drama reaches its climax, the character of Godzilla even manages to generate empathy. What’s more, because the film is rated PG-13 and aims to reach the broadest possible audience, the violent action stops short of graphic gore, which suits me fine.

The visual effects are staggering, especially in IMAX, although I didn’t feel that 3-D added much to the experience. Alexandre Desplat’s supportive score is a much more tangible asset.

Godzilla contemporizes a traditional brand of pop movie, and does it well. It deserves to be a monster hit.

          

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28 Comments

  • Jarod | May 27, 2014 9:27 PMReply

    This movie is a total cliche-driven joke. The only upside about this piece of shit was Bryan Cranston who is in the movie a mere tenth of a sec. I was also remarkably bored throughout. Heed my advice: stick with Honda's classic.

  • Shane Elliott | May 19, 2014 7:21 PMReply

    Everything about this movie was less than "good." It took close to (what seemed like) an hour or so before Godzilla appears on screen, and even then it was only his leg. And parts that really got me to roll my eyes, was the fact that the military apparently tell people who just say they are in the military, whatever classified information they want to know. Also, when is they "pay phone" cliché going to get old? Always convenient in movies when main characters need a phone it's directly to their left. And the final thing that ground my gears about this movie was the fact that the mother would just leave her child the way she did during such a time of destruction. Sure I may be over analytical but I couldn't help but sit in my seat and laugh at all the crappy directing and acting. Could have found a better movie to invest my time into than this one.

  • Lee | May 17, 2014 12:53 AMReply

    A good review. If you're a fan of the classic Spielberg movies (JAWS, Close Encounters, Jurassic Park), you will LOVE the new Godzilla. This isn't a Michael Bay, blow something up every 5 seconds movie. The movie is a lot like it's title character: it takes its time getting there but when it does, the payoff is incredible. A new classic people will be watching for years to come.

  • Jon | May 16, 2014 1:29 PMReply

    Okay, a great big apology for posting the same comment a bunch of times. I kept hitting the submit button and it didn't seem to be working. Then when I followed a different link, suddenly it was there 23 freaking times. Computers are evil. Again, sorry.

  • Jon | May 16, 2014 1:23 PMReply

    Sorry, Leonard, but I must disagree. I found this film to be sub-par. The characters were not particularly compelling, the CG was unimpressive, the big G got shafted on screen time, there was very little in the way of suspense, it was anti-climactic, and the music score was utterly forgettable. Not the big guy's worst outing, but very far from the best and not in any way a classic.

  • Jon | May 16, 2014 1:23 PMReply

    Sorry, Leonard, but I must disagree. I found this film to be sub-par. The characters were not particularly compelling, the CG was unimpressive, the big G got shafted on screen time, there was very little in the way of suspense, it was anti-climactic, and the music score was utterly forgettable. Not the big guy's worst outing, but very far from the best and not in any way a classic.

  • Jon | May 16, 2014 1:22 PMReply

    Sorry, Leonard, but I must disagree. I found this film to be sub-par. The characters were not particularly compelling, the CG was unimpressive, the big G got shafted on screen time, there was very little in the way of suspense, it was anti-climactic, and the music score was utterly forgettable. Not the big guy's worst outing, but very far from the best and not in any way a classic.

  • Jon | May 16, 2014 1:22 PMReply

    Sorry, Leonard, but I must disagree. I found this film to be sub-par. The characters were not particularly compelling, the CG was unimpressive, the big G got shafted on screen time, there was very little in the way of suspense, it was anti-climactic, and the music score was utterly forgettable. Not the big guy's worst outing, but very far from the best and not in any way a classic.

  • Jon | May 16, 2014 1:22 PMReply

    Sorry, Leonard, but I must disagree. I found this film to be sub-par. The characters were not particularly compelling, the CG was unimpressive, the big G got shafted on screen time, there was very little in the way of suspense, it was anti-climactic, and the music score was utterly forgettable. Not the big guy's worst outing, but very far from the best and not in any way a classic.

  • Jon | May 16, 2014 1:22 PMReply

    Sorry, Leonard, but I must disagree. I found this film to be sub-par. The characters were not particularly compelling, the CG was unimpressive, the big G got shafted on screen time, there was very little in the way of suspense, it was anti-climactic, and the music score was utterly forgettable. Not the big guy's worst outing, but very far from the best and not in any way a classic.

  • Jon | May 16, 2014 1:22 PMReply

    Sorry, Leonard, but I must disagree. I found this film to be sub-par. The characters were not particularly compelling, the CG was unimpressive, the big G got shafted on screen time, there was very little in the way of suspense, it was anti-climactic, and the music score was utterly forgettable. Not the big guy's worst outing, but very far from the best and not in any way a classic.

  • Jon | May 16, 2014 1:22 PMReply

    Sorry, Leonard, but I must disagree. I found this film to be sub-par. The characters were not particularly compelling, the CG was unimpressive, the big G got shafted on screen time, there was very little in the way of suspense, it was anti-climactic, and the music score was utterly forgettable. Not the big guy's worst outing, but very far from the best and not in any way a classic.

  • Jon | May 16, 2014 1:22 PMReply

    Sorry, Leonard, but I must disagree. I found this film to be sub-par. The characters were not particularly compelling, the CG was unimpressive, the big G got shafted on screen time, there was very little in the way of suspense, it was anti-climactic, and the music score was utterly forgettable. Not the big guy's worst outing, but very far from the best and not in any way a classic.

  • Jon | May 16, 2014 1:22 PMReply

    Sorry, Leonard, but I must disagree. I found this film to be sub-par. The characters were not particularly compelling, the CG was unimpressive, the big G got shafted on screen time, there was very little in the way of suspense, it was anti-climactic, and the music score was utterly forgettable. Not the big guy's worst outing, but very far from the best and not in any way a classic.

  • Jon | May 16, 2014 1:21 PMReply

    Sorry, Leonard, but I must disagree. I found this film to be sub-par. The characters were not particularly compelling, the CG was unimpressive, the big G got shafted on screen time, there was very little in the way of suspense, it was anti-climactic, and the music score was utterly forgettable. Not the big guy's worst outing, but very far from the best and not in any way a classic.

  • Jon | May 16, 2014 1:21 PMReply

    Sorry, Leonard, but I must disagree. I found this film to be sub-par. The characters were not particularly compelling, the CG was unimpressive, the big G got shafted on screen time, there was very little in the way of suspense, it was anti-climactic, and the music score was utterly forgettable. Not the big guy's worst outing, but very far from the best and not in any way a classic.

  • Jon | May 16, 2014 1:20 PMReply

    Sorry, Leonard, but I must disagree. I found this film to be sub-par. The characters were not particularly compelling, the CG was unimpressive, the big G got shafted on screen time, there was very little in the way of suspense, it was anti-climactic, and the music score was utterly forgettable. Not the big guy's worst outing, but very far from the best and not in any way a classic.

  • Jon | May 16, 2014 1:20 PMReply

    Sorry, Leonard, but I must disagree. I found this film to be sub-par. The characters were not particularly compelling, the CG was unimpressive, the big G got shafted on screen time, there was very little in the way of suspense, it was anti-climactic, and the music score was utterly forgettable. Not the big guy's worst outing, but very far from the best and not in any way a classic.

  • Jon | May 16, 2014 1:20 PMReply

    Sorry, Leonard, but I must disagree. I found this film to be sub-par. The characters were not particularly compelling, the CG was unimpressive, the big G got shafted on screen time, there was very little in the way of suspense, it was anti-climactic, and the music score was utterly forgettable. Not the big guy's worst outing, but very far from the best and not in any way a classic.

  • Jon | May 16, 2014 1:20 PMReply

    Sorry, Leonard, but I must disagree. I found this film to be sub-par. The characters were not particularly compelling, the CG was unimpressive, the big G got shafted on screen time, there was very little in the way of suspense, it was anti-climactic, and the music score was utterly forgettable. Not the big guy's worst outing, but very far from the best and not in any way a classic.

  • Jon | May 16, 2014 1:20 PMReply

    Sorry, Leonard, but I must disagree. I found this film to be sub-par. The characters were not particularly compelling, the CG was unimpressive, the big G got shafted on screen time, there was very little in the way of suspense, it was anti-climactic, and the music score was utterly forgettable. Not the big guy's worst outing, but very far from the best and not in any way a classic.

  • Jon | May 16, 2014 1:19 PMReply

    Sorry, Leonard, but I must disagree. I found this film to be sub-par. The characters were not particularly compelling, the CG was unimpressive, the big G got shafted on screen time, there was very little in the way of suspense, it was anti-climactic, and the music score was utterly forgettable. Not the big guy's worst outing, but very far from the best and not in any way a classic.

  • Jon | May 16, 2014 1:19 PMReply

    Sorry, Leonard, but I must disagree. I found this film to be sub-par. The characters were not particularly compelling, the CG was unimpressive, the big G got shafted on screen time, there was very little in the way of suspense, it was anti-climactic, and the music score was utterly forgettable. Not the big guy's worst outing, but very far from the best and not in any way a classic.

  • Jon | May 16, 2014 1:19 PMReply

    Sorry, Leonard, but I must disagree. I found this film to be sub-par. The characters were not particularly compelling, the CG was unimpressive, the big G got shafted on screen time, there was very little in the way of suspense, it was anti-climactic, and the music score was utterly forgettable. Not the big guy's worst outing, but very far from the best and not in any way a classic.

  • Jon | May 16, 2014 1:19 PMReply

    Sorry, Leonard, but I must disagree. I found this film to be sub-par. The characters were not particularly compelling, the CG was unimpressive, the big G got shafted on screen time, there was very little in the way of suspense, it was anti-climactic, and the music score was utterly forgettable. Not the big guy's worst outing, but very far from the best and not in any way a classic.

  • Jon | May 16, 2014 1:16 PMReply

    Sorry, Leonard, but I must disagree. I found this film to be sub-par. The characters were not particularly compelling, the CG was unimpressive, the big G got shafted on screen time, there was very little in the way of suspense, it was anti-climactic, and the music score was utterly forgettable. Not the big guy's worst outing, but very far from the best and not in any way a classic.

  • Jon | May 16, 2014 1:16 PMReply

    Sorry, Leonard, but I must disagree. I found this film to be sub-par. The characters were not particularly compelling, the CG was unimpressive, the big G got shafted on screen time, there was very little in the way of suspense, it was anti-climactic, and the music score was utterly forgettable. Not the big guy's worst outing, but very far from the best and not in any way a classic.

  • Norm | May 15, 2014 5:17 PMReply

    Dear LM, after 27 prior releases of Gojira(Godzilla), in one form or another , and believe me I want this film to be interesting and intertaining, I sure hope you are correct in your review.
    Do they put previous Godzilla stars on strategically place billboards or maybe even the actors who were in the rubber suits, that might just be worth the price of admission. I thought placing an electronically produced image of Lawrence Olivier in Sky Captain was a great idea.
    I did like the 1998 version simply because it had new ideas...o.k. where are the 3-D glasses...

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