SPOILER ALERT: A 350-foot monster destroys stuff. People run. Bad acting ensues.
But, thankfully, that’s not all.
Much like last week’s wickedly-web-split of Amazing Spider-Man 2, the All-New Godzilla NOW! offers two films: One, that is very cheer worthy, and a second, that should make you appreciate Pacific Rim that much more. Remember those mixed reviews? Looking back at Pac Rim, it had its share of sub-par performances, sure, but never by the technology at hand. And it had some cool fucking robots. Guillermo del Toro delivered a super dumb b-movie that also happen to be very, very smart.
For Godzilla, director Gareth Edwards (Monsters) carries many of those same technical sensibilities. He delivers a giant radioactive lizard that we can all adore — you know, except for when another behemoth, a kinda-sorta-sometimes-maybe winged spider-pterodactyl that sounds like a mechanical Dinobot hogs up most of the screen. (No, I’m not talking about a newly beefed-up Kick-Ass either; although based on the strength of Aaron Taylor-Johnson‘s time in frame, perhaps I should.) Much of Godzilla isn’t about the famed 1954 “Gojira”, as the strangely more important MUTO — Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism — only add complications to an already haunting situation. How can you stop bulletproof monsters who suck off radiation? How can you stop people from going to the same movie over and over?
No more Large Popcorn with Extra Butter.
The movie opens up as promised. If you saw the trailer, one can hardly blame you for the excitement of a Japanese nuclear conspiracy-driven monster mash; a movie all dark and haunting and no less than fantastic until it once again resonates with 1998. I’ll get to the latter half of that sentence in a minute. More importantly to the many, the CGI battles Edwards conjures up are a wonder to look at. This Godzilla feels real. Feels nostalgic. And he better, considering how little you actually get to witness the big Liz’s presence. Yet, even if the b-movie brawls aren’t quite up to par with the royal rumbling between the Kaiju and the Jaeger of Pacific Rim, watching this film in IMAX is still quite the treat.
Unfortunately, Edwards also had the chance to make this Godzilla the noir monster film for the ages. For whatever rhyme or reason, the cool and colossal conspirational tone takes one skyscraper-stomping step back for action cheese. Hell, even Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranton could only bring so much levity to the film for so long. When an unfortunate array of circumstances leads his nuclear scientist to a most unfortunate detour, the consequential presence of two men — including his bomb-smart son — fail to pick up the slack. As good as Ken Watanabe (Inception) has been over the years, the Monsignor couldn’t help but either laugh or cringe every time the military went for direction from his all-too stilted Dr. Serizawa. In fact, the acting performances in this film are so varied, you’d think they were all reading scripts from different films. I mean, Sally Hawkins, were you even aware of the initial tone of… “GODZILLA!”?
Judging by my sentiment of this latest reboot, it’s clearly no less than a hot mess. Unlike Man of Steel, I didn’t find any humor, or, more importantly, any emotional connection to any of the characters or the who-what-where-how-and-why all this world-shakingly bizarre shit is happening!!! The same people who were angry at the fateful destruction of Metropolis are going to cheer for some thing who did far worse to San Francisco. And Hawaii. And Japan.
But, Godzilla, the King of the Monsters — he’s our hero!
Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla in theaters nationwide tomorrow, May 16th.