‘Godzilla’: More hot air from that fire-breathing monster

2.5 out of 4 stars

Somewhere, in the deep blue sea, Godzilla is fuming.

Sixty years after he wowed the world with his fiery rampage through the streets of Tokyo, he’s been relegated to a complementary role in a franchise he made famous.

He’s bigger, badder and stronger than ever, yet he’s probably asking himself : Why did it take so long for director Gareth Edwards to get me on the screen?

It’s a terrific question. Godzilla, thanks to computer-generated imaging and a massive amount of uranium, got a makeover, as he might be the most impressive monster to grace the big screen. He’d definitely kick King Kong’s ass.

Congratulations, Gareth: You found a way to almost kill the world’s most ferocious predator by bogging the movie down with Godzilla’s history and too many scenes for actors who don’t deliver.

Notice I wrote “almost kill.” There is plenty to like about “Godzilla.” The gargantuan beast’s foes,  M.U.T.O.s — Mutant Unknown Terrestrial Organisms – are worthy adversaries and the way they turn Las Vegas into a sandbox is visually stunning. The fight scenes between Godzilla and the M.U.T.O.s are captivating, as the monsters turn buildings into weapons as humans run for their lives.

It’s funny to see the military’s feeble attempts to stop Godzilla or the M.U.T.O.s with automatic weapons and fighter planes. Listen, these monsters feed on uranium. You think they can be stopped by assault weapons? Hell, automatic weapons couldn’t even stop the Incredible Hulk.

Some stunning shots but the movie overall falls short. (Publicity screen shot)

In a nutshell, Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), who disarms bombs for the U.S. Navy and the son of nuclear physicist Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston in a horrendous wig) lose everything in a seismic blast that destroys a Japanese nuclear plant and the surrounding area. Joe refuses to believe it was caused by nature, smells a government cover up, thinks Godzilla is the culprit and the next thing you know, the movie is spending more time focusing on a nuclear plant than on Godzilla.

Some of the actors and actresses – namely Elizabeth Olsen as Ford’s wife and Ken Watanabe who plays Japanese scientist/Godzilla expert Dr. Daisuke Serizawa – are so unappealing part of you wishes they would get eaten.

Godzilla tries to be different with its drawn-out plot, which is why it’s an above-average movie, not a good one. You remember the Jurassic Park trilogy? The movies took us to the island as quickly as possible so Tyrannosaurus rexes and Velociraptors could wreak havoc and feast on a human buffet. The acting was secondary, as you could have cast Pee-wee Herman and it would have been all good, as long as he got decapitated by a Stegosaurus.

But “Godzilla” tries to blaze its own path, which doesn’t work because the movie’s namesake isn’t given star treatment.

You might be rooting for Godzilla to eat some of these characters because they are so unappealing. (Publicity screen shot)

The movie might as well have an intermission, since it’s basically two movies: History and present.

History is important, but viewers need CliffsNotes, not lectures, during a film’s outset. Remember Oscar-winning “Argo”? How long did it take to summarize decades of conflict between the U.S. and Iran before getting to the horde storming the U.S. Embassy in Tehran? A few minutes.

In “Godzilla,” you get tired of hearing about the past because all you care about is the present. “Godzilla” isn’t meant to be a drama or a mystery, so why take so much time building to the inevitable, which is unveiling the new and improved Godzilla?

I’m sure Godzilla is asking himself the same question.


For another take on Godzilla check out Los Angeles Post-Examiner review.