There is perhaps no more famous lizard (alien lizard) as famous as Godzilla. This icon of the big screen has been confusing and delighting audiences for decades. This fire-breathing mammoth, who can destroy (and does) a full city block with a swing of his tale once again graces the big screen. This time, with the newest of special effects, he is bigger, more engaging and more impressive than ever. The stale story, however, and the film’s less than inspiring human performances nearly ruin a marvel in computer generated imagery.
Director Gareth Edwards and his excellent effects team create a visually stunning and remarkable film – breathing new fire into a staple monster movie character. Their beasts, including Godzilla and his (and mankind’s) nemeses – monumental monster bug-like creatures that threaten the very existence of humans – battle through cities and over waterways chewing them up and destroying everything in their wakes. These and the locations where they interact leap from the screen in IMAX 3D, which brings me to my next complaint. The IMAX 3D glasses are horrible. I sat, where I always do, in the middle section, front row, at the rail and could not turn or tilt my head even slightly without everything turning blurry. By the end, I had a headache. I heard others mentioning the same. I genuinely felt sorry for the actual front rows of theatre people, who must have felt waves of nausea watching from so close.
The cast, Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Aaron-Taylor Johnson (Kick Ass) and Elizabeth Olson (Martha, Marcy, Mae, Marleen) and Ken Wantanabe (The Last Samurai) does fine, I suppose with what little they have to work. Co-writers Max Borenstein and David Callaham’s story, except when the monster mayhem ensues, is dull, predictable and quite dumb. Johnson’s piercing blue eyes and brooding face are what we get the most of and the other actors have minimal screen time and what time they do have is wasted.
I feel like if I had had opportunity to see Godzilla (rated PG-13) without 3D, only in IMAX, then I might have been more tolerant of the film’s faults. My grandson, age ten, loved it and honestly, I think kids will enjoy it far more than adults, even with the superfluous side story (soldier struggle get home to wife and son) and slower scenes. He, like I, enjoyed Godzilla best of all – and this new beast has a more expressive face and eyes and a cooler (oxymoron intended), fiery breath; it got all giddy when he torches things! He’s the same character made so much better with all that technology has to offer in filmmaking. Excellent choices in photography and close ups of the creatures engaged in full battle will captivate future filmmakers, specific effect aficionados and monster lovers everywhere. Godzilla earns a C+ fun, but visually it is off the charts!