For Reel

Godzilla (2014)
May 19, 2014, 1:48 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Gareth Edwards
3 Stars
GodzillaThat Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures entrusted a globally successful franchise to a relatively untested director in Gareth Edwards showed incredible promise. Monsters, Edwards’ 2010 break-through, was a treat that foregrounded its philosophy and politics while keeping things honest to genre fans with a few impressive giant alien sequences. His Godzilla largely follows that film’s structure–viewers are relentlessly teased for much of the picture until the villainous monsters rear their ugly heads half-way through, and that merely comes as foreplay to the lovable marquee star. But gone are the compelling sociopolitical stakes (Monsters used American hostility towards illegal immigrants from Mexico as a starting point) and the innovative creature design. Gone is most of what made Monsters interesting–instead, Godzilla is simply content to be a middle-of-the-road blockbuster, hitting the expected notes with an incredible proficiency but notable laziness. Captain America: The Winter Soldier showed that Hollywood could make action films with a real bite to them, and just last year Pacific Rim arrived with a fully-realized fantasy setting and a distinct aesthetic. This blockbuster, on the other hand, looks and feels like many of the blockbusters that have come before it. Worse than the paint-by-numbers approach, the uniformly overqualified cast is wasted with lame dialogue and thin characterizations. Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s meathead vanilla hero is never appealing, even as the script tries to earn the viewer’s admiration by throwing charming children in need of saving in his direction. 1998’s Godzilla was such a notable disaster that people still talk about it today. While this newest reboot is certainly truer to the roots of the beloved franchise, it is bittersweet that few but the most diehard kaiju fans will remember it come the end of this blockbuster season.

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