An ancient creature stirs when the world comes under threat.
There’s a scene early on in Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla where a series of terrifying explosions at an airport lead the camera in a long pan, flames wash the screen and a megalithic foot stomps into view, complete with some suitably awesome bass.
It’s the reveal of the character, coupled with our first experience of his utterly incredible roar and the promise of a proper tussle against an appropriately sized foe. Then suddenly we cut to another location, only getting a glimpse of the fight through a televised news report.
This is a recurring theme while watching the all new Godzilla – namely there’s little enough of the lizard himself on screen. Sure he wanders around like some kind of grumpy old drunk and gets some face-time during the final third but for the most part the focus lies on the human characters.
That’s not exactly a bad thing, and the commitment to keeping things grounded and dramatic is commendable but I personally take issue with a film that has Aaron Taylor-Johnson frowning in the foreground while two GIANT MONSTERS fight to the gritty death in the background.
I demand some skyscraper-sized fisticuffs in my monster movie, a quota of chaos which last year’s Pacific Rim easily exceeded. Under that criteria, Godzilla is definitely a disappointment.
But that’s not to say it’s a bad film. Second time filmmaker Edwards has all the right elements in place and pulls of several scenes of dread and wonder – even if most of the latter shots are stolen wholesale from Spielberg.
The cast does its thing more or less competently – Bryan Cranston is great and there’s some weight added by the likes of Ken Watanabe. Even Aaron Taylor-Johnson is watchable and wifey Elizabeth Olsen tries to get out as many tears as she can in a handful of scenes.
It’s all a bit messy though – from Watanabe’s constant spewing of essentially crackpot theories about what Godzilla doing to a series of moments where groups of well-trained military sorts constantly lose sight of their monstrous prey. Seriously, Godzilla is 350 feet tall, why do you even need binoculars to find him?!
Too many of these moments coupled with a dearth of monster mayhem make 2014’s Godzilla an occasionally dreary experience but the final battle goes some way towards restoring the balance even if I was never convinced to care for the human characters. Sequel talk is all too premature.