Released on the 60th anniversary of the original Godzilla, the one thing I can say about the newest Godzilla is this: it is really loud. Beyond that, it’s mostly special effects. Godzilla doesn’t even make an appearance until over an hour into the two-hour plus run time. And the first time a monster appears, it’s not even him. It’s another monster, who doesn’t look like the real Godzilla, which is kind of a hint. It appears to be a cross between the Wicked Witch of the West and a Wombat on steroids.
Director Gareth Edwards has a good resume of special effects design, but not much directing background. To fill the gaps in Godzilla, he uses a lot of Steven Spielberg trademark effects similar to those of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and Jurassic Park (1993). He employs a solid cast featuring Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, David Strathairn and recent Oscar Nominee, Sally Hawkins. Unfortunately the script doesn’t give them much to do.
Like Tora, Tora, Tora (1970) – a film with a long build-up to a mid-movie intermission preceding the Pearl Harbor attack in the second half – Godzilla takes a long, sleepy time trying to build up suspense for Godzilla’s appearance. In Tora, Tora, Tora we knew that no matter what suspense was attempted, it was inevitable that the Japanese would attack Pearl Harbor.
Same thing in Godzilla.
Enough of the mock suspense and phony soap opera angst. Get on with it. We’re all in the theater to see the monsters.
This film isn’t in a class with Jaws (1975) – which was the best monster film ever made – but it sure tries to be. It only succeeds in the volume of the sound. A quote from the IMDB database says it all. “The sound designers used a 12-foot-high, 18-foot-wide speaker array to blast Godzilla’s roar at 100,000watts to get a good idea of his vocal power and strength.”
While the “big” scenes are loud and noisy, they’re a lot like last year’s Pacific Rim, except with a better-known cast. For the length of this film, the loud and noisy would have been more effective if the first hour was cut down to a 30-minute build up, and just let Godzilla get to his business.
The film leaves ample room for a sequel, depending on box office results. Hoping it will be Godzilla vs. The Cookie Monster. Overall, it’s a special effects treat but a disappointing movie. I hope they redeem themselves in the sequel by including the Smog Monster. The producers should remember that a “B” movie is still a “B” movie no matter how much money they throw at it.
Rated 2.1 out of 4.0 reasons to visit Godzilla’s Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It’s there. Trust me.