Another review from the world of dark cinema.
With each review, I am also sharing minimalist movie posters I have created for every film after watching it. (More on my film poster project at large, here. )
FILM :: GODZILLA
YEAR :: 2014
DIRECTOR :: Gareth Edwards
As a young lad on Saturday afternoons in the 1970s, I would mount my metallic red Schwinn Sting Ray bicycle and pedal down to the Riviera Theater on Lake Avenue in Rochester, New York. For just 50 cents, I could see a Lone Ranger serial, and some cartoon shorts, but those weren’t what had my allowance money burning a hole in my pocket. No… I made that ride for the monsters.
Ghidorah, Mothra, Rodan all of them filled the screen in the cool darkness of the Riviera. All monster royalty. But there was only one “King of the Monsters” for me. The great Godzilla. Though I was young, I can still remember those afternoons so clearly.
(The Riviera Theater in it’s heyday before my time, but it all remained into my youth.)
So… It was with a ton of nostalgia that I entered the theater for 2014’s version of the King of Monsters, “Godzilla.” Honestly, I left a little unsatisfied.
TO START :: There really is a lot to like about this film. Cranston and Binoche do an amazing job of drawing us in emotionally from frame one. The monsters are genuinely interesting and brilliantly executed. Annnnd that skydiving scene. Oh, that skydiving scene. That scene is a pitch-perfect piece of cinema. Pitch-perfect.
BUT… Unfortunately, that’s where the goodness stops for me.
We lose our loving couple in Cranston and Binoche very early and with them goes the emotional resonance of the film. The remaining family at the center of the story makes for a very attractive picture, but a wooden one. The performances were played for great emotion… We see their tears, but we don’t really FEEL anything. It really doesn’t stop with our central family, either. Everyone battling the monster leaves us with the same disconnected impression. It’s unfortunate, because you can tell that Edwards was striving for that emotional connection.
“BUT WAIT,” you say, “Classic campy “Kaiju” films like “Terror of Mechagodzilla” or “Destroy all Monsters” aren’t exactly replete with intelligent emotional reverberation.”
True that. But those films do deliver MONSTERS in spades (especially The King… Godzilla, himself). While the execution was amazing from a tech standpoint, we really didn’t get much in the way of screen time for our “Kaiju” friends. With the cocktail of today’s CG capabilities and recent hits like “Pacific Rim” in the collective consciousness, this should have felt like a monster version of the best “Rocky” fights all rolled into one. But, it just didn’t.
I think the film’s weakness spurs from that inability to deliver on either front — “emotional story” or “monster movie.” Frankly, I would have been very happy with either and I only got glimpses of both. With a lot of padding in between.
I eagerly look forward to the next time when Godzilla will rise from the depths. Maybe he’ll have just a bit more bite next time.
RATING ………………. 3 STARS