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Overall Rating

Awesome: 6.9%
Worth A Look55.17%
Average: 13.79%
Pretty Bad: 10.34%
Total Crap: 13.79%

2 reviews, 17 user ratings

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Godzilla (2014)
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by Rob Gonsalves

"We don't matter."
4 stars

We begin with a perhaps naĂŻve question: What, if anything, does Godzilla mean to us today?

Surely he means something different than he meant to the Japanese sixty years ago, when he made his screen debut as Gojira. For the Japanese audience, Gojira was a radioactive Jungian shadow. For us, driving blithely to the multiplex as the ice caps melt, Godzilla means … warm-weather spectacle, I guess. The new Godzilla pays some visual homage to various worldwide disasters of recent years, but what are we supposed to think or feel about the catastrophes? Nothing, because our thoughts and feelings are perfectly irrelevant. Things will happen, nature will balance itself, the planet may be fine but a great many forms of life on earth may come out in the wash. It’s Noah all over again, appending “zilla” to “the wrath of God.”

According to the new film, Godzilla and the gigantic creatures he battles (known as “MUTOs”) were not born in the crossfire hurricane of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The MUTOs are ancient animals that feed on radiation; Godzilla is an ancient animal that feeds on the MUTOs. We, therefore, are not complicit in creating them, though our many nukes do attract the MUTOs, who seek somewhere nice to chow down, mate, and spawn. A certain nihilism darkens this Godzilla and puts it within atomic-breath distance of the original Gojira. Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim last summer declared boisterously that the apocalypse was cancelled, thank you very much, and that we would band together to punch monsters in the face. Godzilla ’14 bends over backward trying to find stuff for its human characters to do besides take shelter or die. Here, the apocalypse may be averted, but cancelled? — well, it’s not even on the bubble.

For a long time — longer than some viewers may like — we get trembles and intimations of the monsters, nothing more. Then the big guy shows up, and his prolonged roar has a cleansing chthonic power. That sound, like an especially intense thunderstorm, seems to rip the very atmosphere open sharply. Godzilla is here to fight the monsters, though not on our behalf; he really doesn’t care if the MUTOs’ deaths benefit us, nor does he fret if he inadvertently kills several thousand of us while chasing his prey. To the extent that Godzilla doesn’t actively pursue our destruction, he’s on our side. We and our big buildings — well, actually tiny buildings, comparatively — just get in his way.

Depending on the theater at which you see Godzilla, and in which format (2D or 3D), you might not get what you came for. In several of the fight sequences, director Gareth Edwards films the action from a human’s-eye street level, or shows it on TV monitors, or shuts doors on it. This you-are-there gambit is witty. But later, when Edwards’ camera pulls back to give us a full-on view of the carnage, much of it is obscured by smoke or rain or the darkness of night. Poking around online, I find that some viewers are reporting that it’s hard to see what’s going on, and others haven’t had a problem at all, so it could be projectionist apathy specific to certain theaters. Your best bet might be to take in Godzilla at a reputable IMAX venue (or, now, on Blu-ray).

I enjoyed what I could see of the monster mash, and I see that I haven’t talked much at all about the puny humans. Well, each actor represents something via one note. Bryan Cranston is Paranoia and Panic. His soldier son Aaron Taylor-Johnson is Stoic Heroism, while Taylor-Johnson’s nurse wife Elizabeth Olsen is Worry and Nurture. Ken Watanabe shuffles through every so often, repping Quiet Resignation, accompanied by Sally Hawkins, who Stands Around Pointlessly.

Actually, the entirety of humanity Stands Around Pointlessly here and in most other "Godzilla" films, but human audiences are assumed to be so narcissistic as to need human characters to watch onscreen while waiting, and waiting, for the star to come in for his close-up.

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originally posted: 11/14/14 10:00:00
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User Comments

5/11/19 PUMP UP THE JAM Too Boring, Dark, Out of focus, A failed Monsters Film. 2 stars
7/22/17 Chaz Walter A worthy addition to the series. I loved it, saw in twice in theaters. 5 stars
2/13/17 morris campbell godzilla should have gotten more screen time but not bad alot better the godawful 1998 vers 4 stars
12/25/14 KingNeutron Overall direction was pretty bad, but I did like monsters & the ending 3 stars
11/25/14 DeNitra it was ok 3 stars
11/18/14 MVC underrated! though a bit of a cloverfield rip-off 4 stars
11/16/14 eddie lydecker Roland Emerichs 1998 version was a much better movie. 1 stars
10/24/14 sweetgrrl1972 Maybe the next Godzilla movie will actually have Godzilla in it.. 1 stars
10/02/14 mr.mike First third good, then Big D is right on the money. 3 stars
9/01/14 Langano Refreshing take on the franchise, 4 stars
8/23/14 thejmw bigd is right. and bob dog too. only 20 min in 2 stars
6/04/14 The Big D Long, tedious, and boring--cinematographer needed to turn up the brightness! 1 stars
5/24/14 Koitus Disappointed in Godzilla's screen time... 2 stars
5/22/14 Toni Peluso Only complaint MORE Godzilla! 4 stars
5/19/14 Darkstar Loved it! Finally Godzilla done right. 5 stars
5/17/14 Bob Dog Plodding instead of stomping. 1 stars
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  16-May-2014 (PG-13)
  DVD: 16-Sep-2014

  15-May-2014 (12A)

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  DVD: 16-Sep-2014

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