(Editor’s note: Yes, we know Godzilla didn’t originate in comics, but he’s been in tons of comics, so he’s welcome on Bam Smack Pow any time he wants!)
How We Got Here
In 1998, America had its shot at making a Godzilla film that as everyone knows, took a total crash landing. There were a couple things that drove fans everywhere utterly insane, such as the monster not looking like Godzilla at all. It felt like a different monster that they just slapped the name Godzilla on to try and make money, not bashing the fact that the film was really good as long as you don’t expect it to be Godzilla. After that, as some may know, Toho Pictures in Japan got the rights back and made Godzilla 2000,
which made everyone feel a lot better to see that the real monster that we all knew was back on the screen. It also repaired everyone’s hearts who were broken thinking that 1998’s film was the literal nuke that was dropped on Godzilla films forever. Toho then made a few more movies, including Godzilla Vs. Megaguirus, Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S., and Godzilla: Final Wars. Godzilla : Final Wars came out in 2004, and was, as you might be able to tell, the last movie for Godzilla which included Japan finally getting back at America for the 1998 film.
Needless to say the human subplot as usual was not good at all due to Japanese super soldiers, a cheesy screenplay, and tons and tons of Kung-fu. However, it included the 1998 monster who got brutally beaten by the normal Godzilla and the monster battle scenes were very cool. After a long period of being away, the announcement came that in 2014, another shot for an American comeback of the Gojira (Godzilla) that we all love would be coming. Still, a lot of people were very nervous to see how this movie would turn out. A few months later, the news came that two writers hopped off of the project due to conflicts in the story focusing too much on the humans. Getting to my spoiler-free review of the film, the news was sadly a bit true, but not enough to make the movie bad at all. The overall film was no doubt an excellent next installment to revive the series and bring it forward to a newer generation.
Mostly Spoiler-Free Review
The first thing you need to know about this movie is that this is definitely a film you want to see in IMAX due to the fact that the volume is loud and the screen is huge so you can really get the feel as if you are watching two monsters battle in a city in real life. My only real problem with it is that it takes forever to get Godzilla on the screen, and the human subplot takes forever to get through. Due to this, it may seem silly to actual die-hard Godzilla fans, but I’m going to touch on performances. Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Malcolm In The Middle) fans please do yourself the favor and save your money. His part is smaller than the trailer makes it look like, but for the time he is in there, he carries the film. Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass, Savages) did a good job but certainly did not fit the role of a tough army officer at all. He just can’t turn back from being Kick-Ass no matter how much he tries. Elizabeth Olsen (Oldboy, Red Lights) did a decent enough performance playing the damsel in distress but didn’t show too much emotion as a mother for her kid. Last but definitely not least, Ken Watanabe (Inception, Batman Begins) stole the show as he was believable and had the best lines, seeming as if he was the only one who made this dry human subplot enjoyable.
Onto the aspect most fans are waiting for: the monsters! Well there is no doubt that the monsters saved the film from going downhill. There are two main monsters besides Godzilla, one a male called Hokmuto and the other a female called Femuto (image shown below). Both of these monsters definitely fit as good villains to Godzilla, as one has flying capabilities and they are both very strong, Femuto being stronger and bigger than Hokmuto. They serve as a great threat as they are looking to give birth to, no joke, about 800 more of their kind of monsters and cause tons of destruction along the way. It comes to close calls at times with various heart-pounding scenes that without a doubt leave you on the edge of your seat. As far as their looks are concerned, as any classic Godzilla fan knows, if you watch any of the original films all the villains look pretty silly. This time out, there is no doubt that both of the monsters are built to be terrifying and look like a threat to the audience thanks to modern-day CGI giving its wonderful helping hand. They look realistic enough that if you have kids, you may want to think twice about bringing the young ones to the theater or especially an IMAX for this one.
Now for the one and only … Gojira! What isn’t there to say about our hero Godzilla? Going back to the classics again, the first ever film was meant to be a horror for Japan and was considered a bit scary even though today we watch it and can’t help but laugh at the toy trains, trucks, buildings and planes getting crushed. Eventually, throughout the films it seemed that Godzilla was a joke due to things such as him smiling in a movie, doing kung-fu arm/hand gestures, and lets not forget the world-famous Godzilla dance! Even though the franchise lost its seriousness, just like today’s Marvel movies it had a great story, it was full of characters and it lasted for tons of sequels. In the new film, Godzilla was totally taken seriously, which definitely fits in with current times and makes it more believable in terms of thinking how this world would be if Godzilla was real. In fact at times it was so realistic feeling I got chills down my spine when Godzilla would look toward the camera, along with the footstep sound effects that were so crystal clear I felt as if I was in the same city.
Another thing that was important was the design was perfect. Even though he was a bit overweight compared to his other looks, the spikes on his back were great, especially during his classic swimming scenes. When you first see those spikes pop out of the water, it’s sure to make your heart start racing as the music grows louder and more intense as he approaches his destination. The roar is definitely something that needed to be mentioned as it was no doubt amazing, bringing the classic roar but more intense with a bit of a growl noise at the end of it. And if you’ll allow me one small spoiler, I’ll answer the final question you have in your mind: yes, he does his signature power, and when it happens, you will fanboy/fangirl in your seat knowing that this movie got it right. It’s beautiful.
Godzilla stomped into theaters with advance screenings that started Thursday, and is currently sitting at $196.2 million worldwide. This movie is definitely worth seeing, as when the monsters step in, it’s the kind of thrill fest that every Godzilla fan has dreamt of for some time. Don’t let the subplot get in the way as this film is beautiful, but also do yourself the favor of getting the full experience this movie wants you to have. See it in IMAX and don’t wait for it on DVD. I’m hoping for a sequel to be announced soon.