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Godzilla (2014) Review

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Movie Specs courtesy of IMDB.com:

The world’s most famous monster is pitted against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence.

Director: Gareth Edwards

Writers: Max Borenstein (screenplay), Dave Callaham (story)

Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston | See full cast and crew

Genres: Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA): Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence

Release Date: 16 May 2014 (USA)

Runtime: 123 min

 

Boy, I know everyone was skeptical of another Godzilla movie made in the USA but this movie was great!  Titanic monsters brawling from the point of us wee little humans lets you see just how crazy and terrifying something like this would be if it were to actually happen.  The siting of Gojira (then referred to as Godzilla by U.S. military personnel from there on out) first happened in 1954 (same year the first Godzilla movie called “Gojira,” his original, Japanese name, came out in theaters and begun an era of monster battles) and the first choice is to, of course, kill the monster.  That’s what all those nuclear tests were in the Pacific, attempts to kill this great beast but, surprise surprise, they could not destroy this beast with mere nuclear bombs they had at the time.  Most of this movie take place through the eyes of Lt. Ford Brody, his wife Elle, and Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (played by Ken Watanabe and is the mirror of the original Dr. Serizawa from “Gojira”).  While a boy, Ford witnessed, with his father, destruction on a unimaginable scale which resulted in Ford losing his mother.  All the destruction covered up and explained by a natural disaster drove Joe Brody, Ford’s father, to search for the truth and after 15 years, Ford realizes his father may not be crazy after all.  My only complaint is that I would’ve enjoyed longer Monster fight scenes.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Thrust into a new and terrifying world of massive monsters, Ford resolves to fight his way back to his wife and son attempting to keep them safe and out of harms way.

Dr. Serizawa has been monitoring the monster which attacked the plant which Ford’s parents worked in for 15 years after the disaster, watching and waiting on the massive cocooned creature embedded in the rubble.  He believes that there is a force of nature which will restore the balance if the natural order is upset (that balance is called Godzilla) and he has a stoic reverence for this creature from the depths.  But then what is this creature in the cocoon?  This Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism, MUTO?

This movie captured the human element in a battle of titans, allowing the audience to see the battle form from the ground up and witness a struggle which rocked the world.  We see courage and compassion through the journey of Ford, Dr. Serizawa, and Elle while it seems as though the world is ending around them.  All of them seem to have a sort of connection with Godzilla throughout the movie which was interesting.

Now what you’ve all been waiting for, the King of Monsters himself, Godzilla! Always reminds me of the Leviathan described in Job 41  He looked awesome!  Very much the look that has been perfected over the years at Toho and then added its own touches.  They went for a rough look, as if he is an ancient creature (which he is) that has seen battle and has atomic burn scars (at least that’s what I got out of the look).  He is massive, the biggest Godzilla on screen to date, I believe and he is as tough as he looks.

Godzilla, unlike many movies of the past, isn’t interested in destruction, he’s not all that worried about it either (he’s somewhat an anti-hero but a hero nonetheless).  Great fights between him and MUTO (more discussion in the spoilers section below) and really a mythic feel to him, as if he really is some sacred beast which knows when he is needed.  Loved the roar, encompassed everything in the past and still made it new and exciting for new and and old fans alike.

Themes:

Man vs. Nature: This is probably the most predominant theme in the movie and the driving force behind most of the story.  “The arrogance of Man is thinking that nature is in our control, when really, it’s the other way around.”  What happens when Man is faced with a force as powerful as nature itself, forces which have power to knock out electrical circuitry for miles around?  Can Man fight back against forces older than we can imagine?

Powers greater than ourselves: Dr. Serizawa claims these monsters are like gods, meaning they are beyond our comprehension and impossibly powerful seem to have a mysterious power about them.  You see a few instances of faith in this movie which plays off of this theme.  Elle has a necklace which looks like it may have an image of Jesus or a saint on it, there is a prayer said among the soldiers before jumping out of a plane into the city. Subtle little things.

Military is Fearless: This movie seemed to give a ton of credit to military personnel, which I loved.  These guys are going up against an enemy never imagined before and they do it without hesitation to protect their citizens and the world.  These guys were willing to go into the unknown with no extraction plan if it meant saving lives.

Sometimes, We must Let Nature Take Its Course: “Let them fight.”

Protect your family, no matter what: Ford is told by his father to find his family and protect them, no matter what.  No matter the threat, no matter what stands in his way, Ford is determined to save and protect his family.

 Things to watch for:

When Ford and his father return to his childhood home, look where he kept his bugs.  You’ll see Mothra written on the bottom (a kaiju which appeared many times in past Godzilla movies).

Funny to hear the switch-up of who says “Gojira” vs. “Godzilla”

 

***SPOILER WARNING***

Turn back now if you don’t want to read any spoilers!!

While at the beginning of the Movie we see that Ford’s relationship with his father is strained due to his father’s obsession with finding our the truth about the day his wife died in the disaster at the nuclear plant they worked at, you see that his father was right all along and that the first MUTO (that’s right, there are two, male and female) was the reason for the destruction.  The MUTOs feed off of Radioactive energy.  The military had not killed the creature all these years while it lay in its cocoon feeding because they were afraid in its death, all the radioactive energy would be released, killing many in the populace.  After Ford’s father dies after finally being proven right and a sort of reconciliation with his son, his research is key to finding more out about MUTO and how to stop him.  The reason they can’t just drop a bomb on MUTO is because he can create an EMP blast which would immobilize any aircraft or guidance system that would bring the bomb to him and the concern with killing innocent civilians. Then the plan is born to hook up a mechanical timer (like in the old days) and then it would hopefully kill all three kaiju, Male MUTO, Female MUTO, and Godzilla.  Dr. Serizawa believes that Mankind’s best hope is Godzilla because he is the “Alpha Predator” and keeps the balance of nature intact but most aren’t too fond of the idea of counting one one giant monster to do the others in.

Loved how basically all characters in this movie want to help people.  Ford only just return from active duty where he would disarm and dispose of bombs.  While trying to get back to his family in San Francisco, he runs into the MUTO monsters at almost every turn and when they arm the nuke on a mechanical timer, he is the one to set it off and then goes into the battle zone of the monsters, filled with innocent civilians when the plan goes awry and puts the people the military is trying to protect in danger, they then plan to send in a group to either disarm the bomb or get it as far out of the city so it doesn’t destroy the people still trapped in the city (including Ford’s wife).

Elle is a nurse and is helping people out till the end when everyone has to run.  She is up close and personal with the battle raging between Godzilla and the MUTOs.

Dr. Serizawa worries about the use of nuclear bombs because that is what they tried to kill monsters with before and they seem to feed on it.  The argument for the bombs is to detonate them before they are eaten and the blast-wave will blow the monsters apart (nuclear bombs are much more powerful than they were in 1954).

In most Godzilla movies, there is a person or persons who have a sort of insight or connection to Godzilla, and this film is no exception.  Dr. Serizawa must see Godzilla as he first rises to combat MUTO in Hawaii and see him a an almost mythological beast of old in the flesh.  Ford has the most direct link it seems.  Godzilla has risen to destroy MUTO, the creature which caused the death of Ford’s mother and then father.  After destroying the MUTOs’ brood of eggs, Ford is stared down by Momma MUTO and just before being pulverized, Godzilla steps in to kick butt and save his life.  As both Godzilla and Ford collapse at one point, each rises at the same time and look at each other, almost knowing that they are trying to accomplish the same thing, destroying MUTO (and Godzilla staring at him and fading back into the mist is almost like something out of legend).  Even Elle stares into the eyes of the beast as it battles MUTO around the city while she runs for cover.

Godzilla in this movie is truly the big hero.  Some incarnations portray him destroying the city for no good reason other then he’s ticked off and then only destroys other monsters for stepping on his turf, but this movie is different.  This movie, he doesn’t terrorize, he almost even protects.  No he’s not all that concerned about the destruction caused but he’s only around to put Pappa and Momma MUTO down to bring back balance to nature.  He saves Ford twice from MUTO and stares at him almost knowingly.  Even while boats are following him in the ocean, he pays little attention to them and usually avoids people when he can.  By the end of the film he’s named Godzilla, King of Monsters and labeled, “Savior of city?” And yes, he is (along with Ford and the military men who moved the bomb out).

Godzilla’s whole look is fantastic.  Very much the look Toho has established but buffer (and better then a guy in a suit, as much as I love the older Godzilla movies, this is better) and really gigantic.  seriously huge.  Oh and watch for his atomic breath, starts in the tail and powers up all the way to the top.  Pretty awesome.  His skin is rough and jagged, teeth are huge and scary looking but his eyes are some of the best.  Looks powerful but with almost otherworldly knowledge.

Great Film and a great ride.

Go Check it out!

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