Godzilla: Monster Police, now with 30% less Godzilla!
I can’t say I’ve seen every Godzilla film, but I’ve seen quite a few of them and I’ve enjoyed most of them quite a bit. However, Godzilla (1998) left a very bad taste in everyone’s mouth, including myself. So it’s no wonder that Hollywood waited this long to take another stab at the franchise. Technology has improved by leaps and bounds since the late 90s and it was once again time to give Godzilla a chance. If films like Cloverfield and Pacific Rim could turn out as good as they did, surely Godzilla, with the help of today’s technology, could once again prove that he is the King of the Monsters. Yet, with the bad taste of ‘zilla ’98 still in my mouth, I hesitantly entered the theater.
I highly suggest, if you do plan on seeing this film, you do it in a crowded theater filled with rabid Godzilla fans. That’s how I experienced it and it made the film so much more fun and entertaining. So much so, in fact, that it wasn’t until the credits rolled and I had to think about what I just saw that I realized it wasn’t as good as I thought it had been while watching it. But I’ll still give it this, it was a very entertaining film and a lot of fun to watch, it’s just riddled with problems.
The film opens with scientist Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) who is living in Japan with his wife (Juliete Binoche) and son. Joe is in charge of safety at a nuclear power plant. Things escalate quickly and before you know it his wife is dead. This isn’t much of spoiler as it happens in the first few minutes of the film and is the driving force of what comes next.
Cut to fifteen years later and Joe is a crazy man trying to figure out what happened to his wife, he’s still living in Japan. His son, Ford (Aaron Talyor-Johnson) is a military man who is now married with a kid of his own, his wife is played by Elizabeth Olsen; they live in San Francisco. I’m not going to bother telling you her name because even after watching it you won’t remember. That’s how unimportant she is to the story. Which is a shame, because she’s an amazing actress and her talents are completely wasted here.
Ford has to go to Japan when his dad is arrested. Joe convinces Ford to help him look for something they stumbled onto a hidden military base where we meet Dr. Serizawa (Ken Watanabe). Things escalate quickly here and a giant flying monster escapes. Now Ford has to get back to San Francisco, this is his film now. Despite how much the trailers showcase Cranston, he’s not as important to the story as you would hope he’d be.
While Ford is trying to get back to San Francisco, another monster like the first one shows up in Las Vegas and in the Pacific ocean we gets hints that Godzilla is on his way. Dr. Serizawa goes out of his way to point out those around him that Godzilla is there to return balance to nature or something like that. Basically he’s the Monster Police and these two creatures have apparently broken a few laws. Cause Godzilla is on a rampage to bring these creatures down. Serizawa also points and proclaims “Gojira!” in an obvious homage to the rest of the franchise.
There are hints and glimpses of a big monster battle in Honolulu, but the audience sees very little of this and it’s extremely disappointing. Finally in the third act of the film all the monsters arrive in San Francisco and Ford arrives in San Francisco and Ford’s wife is trapped in San Francisco because Ford stupidly told her “wait there for me” when he knew three giant monsters were headed in her direction. This is one of many glaring plot holes in the film. I can’t mention most of the others because they would be huge spoilers, but rest assured, they are there.
So all the monsters finally get together and it’s time of the big monster battle. The reason you watch a Godzilla movie. It’s time for Godzilla to kick some serious monster butt and destroy a few national landmarks and other buildings while he’s at it. This is what we paid to see. After all, the film IS called Godzilla, not Ford Brody and the Stupid Stuff He Does. But that’s just what we get. Godzilla is fighting these giant monsters and it’s all background set dressing for the adventures of these army guys and the stuff they have to do to save the city. Some people might not be bothered by this, I was super annoyed by it. I want to see giant monster battles, not guys running around with glimpses of giant monster battles in the background. During all this there are also occasional cuts to Ford’s wife cowering and hiding and screaming as dust and debris fall down around her just to remind us that she’s there and might die at any minute.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing moments in the third act. There are moments that will make you scream and shout and cheer on Godzilla like he was your favorite local sports team. There just isn’t enough of it. And that is the biggest flaw of the film.
I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I almost feel like Hannibal Lecter had more screen time in The Silence Of The Lambs that Godzilla does in his own film. And if that’s not disappointing, I don’t know what is.
Director: Gareth Edwards Notable Cast: Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe and Elizabeth Olsen Writer:Max Borenstein
Mike Noyes received his Masters Degree in Film from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco. A few of his short films can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/user/mikebnoyes. He recently published his first novel which you can buy here: https://www.amazon.com/Seven-Days-Years-Mike-Noyes-ebook/dp/B07D48NT6B/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1528774538&sr=8-1&keywords=seven+days+seven+years