So there's no words to tell you how much I was looking forward to see this movie. I watched the trailer fifty times over the last few months. I read updates on the film. I read early reviews (without spoilers) and tried not to hold my hopes too high.
But after seeing it last night I have to say the movie is...off.
I'll try to do a spoiler free portion here articulating the elements of the film and then below I'll do a more in depth pro and con list that will contain spoilers.
The film's overall sense was one that didn't hold true with traditional giant monster movies. I liked the director's other monster movie- Monsters- since it held overtones of menace for the main characters. Super 8 had a scary, coming-of-age sense that spoke to my early self in the idea of discovering something truly terrifying that grownups were either unaware of or turning a blind eye to. One of my favorite monster movies in recent years would have to be Cloverfield. Since the creature in that movie is so utterly alien and threatening, it was not only shocking to behold, but also horrifying.
Godzilla did not bring this sort of dread or similar awe that I was expecting. The monsters were cool, very cool in fact. The acting was good for the most part. But I think what held me back was the story itself got lost in the tale not knowing what it wanted to be. Is the movie a monster film? A disaster flick? A familial bond tale? A metaphor for our arrogance as humankind and our affect on the environment?
I think it tried to be all of these and fell short in each of them. There was too much emphasis put on the human side of things and not enough on the monsters themselves. Which is THE reason everyone will be going to see Godzilla in the coming weeks.
Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy the movie and will definitely see it again but there were not enough awe inspiring scenes to bring the film up to the expectations brought about by the excellent trailers. I would encourage everyone to go see it and decide whether or not they enjoy it for themselves but for me it fell a bit short.
SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
Now a quick pro and con list that sums up how I felt.
- Acting- All of the cast did okay but Bryan Cranston was by far the most talented.
- CGI- Excellent and in some places pure brilliant.
- Setting- All of the settings were very well done, great color and backdrop, especially the train scene.
- Godzilla's presence- When he's there, he's really there. The fire breathing was epic and the final fight scene was excellent.
- Bryan Cranston dies within a few scenes of him being reintroduced to the current story. Extremely important character who fades away before being fully realized. I think this is the biggest mistake the movie made. Cranston could have added so much more to the plot and balanced the sullen and almost annoying, downtrodden Ken Watanabe. Not hacking on Watanabe, he's an excellent actor and played his part very well, though his emotions were too muted to really call him a character. Like I said in the pros, the acting was okay but everyone seemed to be going through the motions. Not a character driven story really at all, which is what I think the director was going for.
- Story problems- The children in the bus trapped on the bridge. Why in the world would there be police blockading the evacuation route out of the city? Very off-putting and not an effective tension device. Elizabeth Olsen's character puts her son on a bus but stays behind because her husband says he's coming for her. The definition of a strong character is someone who makes their own decisions. She should have went with her son and tried to escape the city or at least sheltered somewhere relatively safe with him. Instead they split up and she remains in the beast's path. Very weak character, could've been much stronger. And lastly, why wasn't the city evacuated as soon as the military was sure where the monsters would converge?
- Monster fights- I'm all for delaying the appearance of the creatures to build tension, but after they're revealed and their first two clashes are cut off in mid-scene, I became angry. I was ready to hate the movie but the final fights between Godzilla and the Mutos redeemed it.
Overall, go see the movie and form your own opinions. I'll be watching it again to see if I can glean a bit more appreciation for it but as of right now I'm a little disappointed in what could've been an epic film.