Movie Review: Godzilla

Movie Review: Godzilla

Big-buck visual effects win out over substance and heart

By Mark HadleyWednesday 14 May 2014MoviesReading Time: 3 minutes

Monstrous. Truly monstrous. This is the result when directors try to buy their way out of a bad script.

Mark Hadley reviews 'Godzilla'.

Godzilla is the $200 million dollar remake of the 1954 Japanese monster film by the same name. Its predecessor has achieved legendary status for being not only a benchmark film for the Japanese ‘kaiju’ monster genre, but also for the modern-day hilarity of its plot. This 60th anniversary version directed by Gareth Edwards (Monsters) is likely only to achieve the latter.

In the 1960s the United States discovered a massive lizard-like creature in the Pacific that it subsequently tried to destroy. No one wanted to alarm the public so they kept this massive effort secret – remember all of those nuclear tests? Turns out they weren’t blowing up islands. Flash forward to 1999. Scientists wandering around the Philippines discover the remains of a gigantic dinosaur-like creature under the ground and two dormant eggs.

“Godzilla?” I hear you ask.

No, these are the offspring of a 300-metre high, bat-winged variety that apparently feeds on pure radiation and emits electro-magnetic pulses as a defense mechanism. Why? No one knows, not even the scriptwriter. But meantime one of the eggs hatches and the creature decides to burrow under a Japanese nuclear plant. Again, who knows why….Still no need for a panic– the scientists managed to cover that one up too. Fifteen years later the boffins are still watching the cocooned monster, wondering what might happen. But their patience is finally rewarded. A ravenous beast emerges…

“Godzilla??” No, be patient.

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…and it destroys half the city before heading for San Francisco to rendezvous with another 300 metre high monster that’s emerged from Nevada…

“Er … Godzilla?” Wait!

Just as these two massive monsters are destroying that city and getting ready to make babies, guess who turns up? Yes – the US Army…who, despite their extensive development of nuclear weapons are unaware of the effects of an EMP. But thankfully, they receive some unexpected help from the ocean. You can say it now…

“Godzilla!!” Yes. And just in case you don’t get it, a very helpful Japanese scientist names it clearly for you.

Now that the big guy has finally turned up, what follows is a rollicking cross-country rampage and an attempt to detonate all three monsters that’s helpfully observed at every stage – however improbably – by army demolitions expert Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). He’s even there for the most unlikely ending to a monster smack-down film that you’re likely to see this century. But if you’re in it for the devastation then Edwards’ monster production, with the equally monstrous price tag, won’t disappoint. Sift through the wreckage and you might even find an attempt at a moral.

Key characters, including that helpful Japanese scientist – Ken Watanabe – are continually staggered by the foolishness pin-sized soldiers display in the presence of not only these mighty beasts, but the natural world in general. “The arrogance of man,” Ken tells the obligatory brash US officer, “is believing he is in control of nature.” And true to form the monsters under consideration deliver a lesson in humility by paying almost no attention to humanity’s best efforts.

In the end we actually do nothing to alter a single monster’s course, and contribute nothing to our survival. It made me wonder why humans believe they can say anything about God’s plan for this world other than what His Bible says He will do. If Godzilla goes about his own business without concern for our opinion, why would the Creator of the universe be any more likely to bend to our will? But while Godzilla will thankfully cease to exist when the lights come on, the last two thousand years have shown that God is not so easily dismissed.

But honestly that’s the best I can do to redeem a badly conceived idea barely supported by a bank’s worth of special effects. This film will be in the bargain bin quicker than I can forget the two hours I spent watching it.


Rating: M
Distributor: Warner Bros

Release Date: Thursday, May 15