Godzilla - Movie review

by - May 17, 2014

(SPOILER FREE)

When the first teaser trailor for Godzilla was shown to an unsuspecting crowd at Comic Con in 2011, they chose to use the quote from Oppenheimer (inventor of the atomic bomb) taken from the Bhagavad Gita as part of the voiceover for the trailor. It was the moment when Krishna chooses to reveal his true omnipotent form as Lord Vishnu to Arjuna who is sitting disillusioned at the battlefield. Vishnu shows him that he has nothing to fear since the most indestructable force known in the universe is literally there by his side.


"Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."

Having seen director Gareth Edwards interpretation of Godzilla, I can see exactly why he deemed that quote relevant to the movie. Is the movie perfect? No. But it is easily the best Godzilla movie we have ever seen. 

15 years after a 'disaster' occurred at a nuclear plant in Japan, one of the scientists (Bryan Cranston) keeps trying to get back in to the quarantined area because he is convinced there was more to the accident than meets the eye. When the local authorities contact his estranged son (Aaron Taylor Johnson) to come pick him up after he is caught trespassing, father and son end up making one last trip to the area where their lives were destroyed decades ago. Unfortunately, as it turns out, daddy was right all along. And 15 years of experimenting has left the cause of the disaster stronger and finally ready to make its presence known. And when it frees itself from its restraints, humanity finds it has no real answer to killing the creature. But as the Japanese scientist (Ken Watanabe) explains - "nature does have a way of restoring balance".



Let me start with what works in the movie:
1. Homage - The movie pays homage to all the old Godzilla movies and themes. Touching upon the first Japanese movie (Gojira) in 1954 to the many movies which focused on Godzilla fighting other creatures and also the theme of nuclear radiation being the reason of these creatures existence, the storyline has done well to incorporate it all.
2. Holding back - This is going to be controversial and I expect some of you will complain that this was actually a minus point. Director Edwards chooses to follow the "Jaws" movie pattern wherein you are aware of Godzilla's presence by the start of the second act but you only really get to see him in the third act. But it makes it all the more satisfying when you finally get to see him in action.
3. Cinematography - Outstanding. And I am not talking about the monsters (yet). I am referring to the gorgeous visuals of Japan, Hawai and finally San Francisco. The sequence at the bridge and the troops jumping off the plane are simply magnificent. The final battle sequence and the finishing moves are truly epic.
4. Creatures - Godzilla and company have never been so meticulously done as this. Various sequences -whether it be the spines on his back as he swims in the ocean or the sequence of him appearing on land amidst the dust and rubble of smashed skyscrapers - are meant just to show us the scale of the creature compared to us and it is truly astounding. If you felt awed as a kid watching dinosaurs walking in Jurassic Park, get ready to feel that same way again. The creatures here are shown clearly and not just hidden constantly in darkness to hide any CGI discrepancies.
5. Theme - I don't know if others feel the same but this was the impression I was left with. There is a real spiritual theme (so unlike present American blockbusters and more akin to Asian philosophies) wherein if something evil arises, nature (God?) finds a way to counter it to bring back balance to the world. It's a far cry (and a more optimistic one) from the first Godzilla movie which was an allegory to nuclear weapons and the destruction it causes.  Godzilla is less of a monster and more of a God in this movie, when you think about it. 

Of course, there are some flaws which I cannot ignore. While holding back the presence of Godzilla is fine, there are at least two moments in the movie where we are about to see the start of the battle we have been waiting for and then the scene just moves away to quieter asides of the story line. I'm sure slow foreplay and holding back is a great thing in other fields but you could literally hear the collective groan within the theater when we moved back to the actors just as Godzilla was about to go into action mode.
Which brings me to what I assume is going to be the other popular gripe - Cranston, Watanabe, Juliette Binoche alongside rising stars Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen. That's a stellar line up but I can't help feeling they were underutilized. You get why they were there... I'm just not so sure I was drawn into the human aspect of the story.

These short issues aside, let me reiterate - this is an absolutely brilliant movie. I love how Godzilla has been portrayed and I am guessing you will too once you've seen the movie.
Oh ya, and watch it on the biggest screen with the best sound effects please.



"The arrogance of man is thinking nature is in our control... 
and not the other way around." - Ken Watanabe, Godzilla (2014)

I'm going with a solid 4 out of 5 
Appletinis for this movie. 


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28 comments

  1. wow..I remember pestering my dad till he took me for the last GODZILLA...I must pester someone else now.

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    1. The last Godzilla cant hold a candle to this one..

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  2. I have never figured out why people like fantasy books and movies :) Just not my cup 'o tea. However, my hubby would probably love it. He rents them when I am away :)

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    1. haha.. then I am sure he's gonna be getting this one soon :D

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  3. Not my type of movie and I haven't seen a single Godzilla movie. Each to their own I guess.

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    1. ya, thats true. Disaster and monster movies definitely appeal more to guys , I guess :D

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  4. I haven't watched the last one and not sure if I would watch this one..but good review I must say!

    My Own Famous Five...

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    1. I get that.. as you can see, quite a few women above and below your comment are not so eager to watch it... me, I really wanted to see how iit was done. especially compared to the 1998 version (which was a disaster of a different kind!)

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  5. Great review, I will go for this movie just because of your one line- Godzilla is less of a monster and more of a God in this movie :) Enjoyed reading your thoughts on this movie.

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    1. please do tell me what you thought of it after watching... especially the interpretation.

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  6. I'm going to come back to this one after I watch the movie...probably tomorrow :)

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    1. tell me what you thought of it... difference of opinion?

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  7. There are so many super hero and Godzilla kind of movies in the theatres right now. I just don't have a choice but to contemplate watching them. Yeah, don't like stuff that's soooo unreal!

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    1. I've always been fascinated by movies regarding creatures from the sea (there's so much down there we dont know about) a part of me really hopes to spot one of them one day :D

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  8. I liked the movie. . It's wonderfully taken. . Yes the homages are too good. . I don't know if you noticed but there was one scene where they show a Japanese arch not holding up during a fight scene. . I think it's a reference to the 'still standing Japanese arch'

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    1. No Rohan.. I did miss that one. But I too enjoyed it. I get everyones complaint that there is too little of him and thats a justified one too. But its simply brilliant at the end..

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  9. Yup, just added it to my 'to watch' lists...thanks to you :)

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  10. Sounds like a must see. You have convinced me! Great job on the review.

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  11. Great review. Planning to watch it.

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    1. Tell me what you thought of it once you're done Harish.

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  12. I had already decided to watch the movie, whatever the reviews may say. Your review has spiked up my interest. :-)

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    1. greaT,, tell me what you thought of it once u r done...

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    2. The movie was good. The effects, the background score and the actors, everything neatly done. But I would have liked to see a bit more of the Godzilla. :-)

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    3. that last line sums up everyone's main complaint :D

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  13. I loved the movie. Your review pretty much highlights my views ! I loved those last lines

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    1. Good to hear that.. I thought it was a really well taken movie..

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So what do you think ?