I can’t do anything easily, can I? I’m already a month late to reviewing Godzilla vs. Kong, and yet I feel the need to start at the beginning of the so-called MonsterVerse cinematic universe with 2014’s Godzilla, AKA the one I think is the least good. I mean, it’s not the worst Godzilla movie ever–I hate you so much, Gabara and will NEVER forgive you for existing–but of the four films in this new franchise, it’s the weakest, in part because it shows as little of Godzilla as possible.
The movie sets itself up to have us follow Joe Brady (Mr. Bryan Cranston). He’s a supervisor at a Japanese nuclear power plant when a titan attacks–I’m going to use that word once and then call them “kaiju” for the rest of these posts–and in the ensuing destruction, his wife dies. As his son grows up, Joe becomes a conspiracy theorist, believing (correctly) that the death of his wife wasn’t caused by an earthquake. But then he dies surprisingly early, leaving his son, Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) as our main character, and he’s… he’s fine? He’s fine. He has a wife played by Elizabeth Olsen, AKA the actress who played his sister in Avengers: Age of Ultron, so that’s… a little weird in hindsight. They also have a son, but that kid is so useless that you could’ve replaced him with a sack of flour with a face crudely drawn on and the film wouldn’t change. Hell, it might’ve been better, cause holy crap that kid could not act.
Anyway, Ford is in the military and is a bomb disposal expert. Sure enough, the climax of the movie involves a nuke that the US government put a timer on before ensuring it got to its destination, meaning it needs to be stopped before San Francisco explodes. Except the bomb can’t be defused, so it has to be taken out to sea. Man, I was already on the fence about how important Ford’s character is, and then you tell me the one useful skill he has is rendered useless? What was the point, then, to get him to tag along with the bomb squad? He’d been volunteering with whatever military group was nearby throughout the entire movie, so it would’ve been so easy for them to just say, “Sure, we could use another body on this suicide mission.” Turns out Checkov’s gun was an empty, knockoff Super Soaker!
Part of the reason I think this is the weakest of the franchise to date is that for a movie titled Godzilla, there sure isn’t much of the big lizard. IMDB says Godzilla is on screen for approximately 11 minutes, which is a crime in a two hour movie. As I’ve mentioned before, my friends and I watched every live-action Godzilla movie a while back, and sure, a heavy focus on the human and a disappointing lack of screen time for the various kaiju is a trend, but come on, man! The older movies had similar amounts of screen time for Godzilla, but are at generally a half hour shorter. And Shin Gojira–perhaps the film that focuses the most on the humans–has plenty of Godzilla in its various forms. And that movie was actually good!
As for the kaiju that Godzilla fights, I’m not just that excited for the MUTOs, or Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms. Their design is cool, looking kind of like the Sidri from Marvel Comics, but with longer legs, but the name just puts me off. It’s not even a name! It’s a designation! Sure, Godzilla was technically a MUTO before Ken Watanabe (whose character is named after the scientist in the 1954 Godzilla film, so that’s fun) name dropped “Gojira,” but I live for the dumb names these monsters get. Apparently they’re called Jinshin-Mushi in the Godzilla: Aftershock graphic novel–oh yes, these movies have comics that delve deeper into the story–but that technically was just the name of the kaiju that was viewed as the progenitor to the MUTOs. The comic goes into some deep lore on the Jinshin-Mushi which is more interesting than the entirety of this movie. Either way, the first one died like a bitch when Godzilla tail slaps it against a building, but the second gets a bitchin’ death as Godzilla blasts its atomic breath down the MUTO’s throat. A great moment, but I could’ve used more. At least I have Godzilla, King of the Monsters!
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