Other Media Review

Movie Review: Godzilla


Title: Godzilla
Written By: David Callaham (story) Max Borenstein (screenplay)
Publication Info: Warner Bros. 2014
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy

Godzilla I went to see Godzilla this past weekend and I’m still not okay. It might be the worst movie I’ve ever seen.

It wasn’t like I went to Godzilla expecting the movie to make a whole lot of sense. It’s a flick about a giant bipedal lizard that rises from the ocean to step on cars and knock buildings over. And I love stupid giant monster movies. I liked Pacific Rim and Monsters and Cloverfield. As a kid I used to stay up too late and watch badly dubbed Japanese monster movies with my dad.

The issue with this incarnation of Godzilla was that it took itself way too seriously. In an effort to make sense it became entirely ridiculous and there were no moments of “we’re in a movie about a giant bipedal lizard” levity to break up the seriously painful acting.

In order to really explain how bad this movie is, I basically have to summarize the entire plot so if you really want to go to the move unspoiled, stop reading this, but really, don’t waste your money seeing this on the big screen.

So the movie opens in 1999 in the Philippines where we see a giant pit that a mining company has blown out of the earth and a mass of CGI workers crawling up and down rickety ladders and hauling baskets on their heads. But we’re not here to discuss the slave-like conditions of the miners. No, you see, the mining company found a giant monster skeleton in their big ass pit, and what appear to be two egg sacks. Dr. Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) shows up and stares ominously at said egg sacks while scary music plays in the background.

Then we shift over to Japan where an American kid, Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is living with his parents. Said parents work at a nuclear power plant, and his dad is all shouty and waving paperwork at people: “We can’t nuclear power plant until I’m confident of these readings! These readings show things and something bad is about to happen and why won’t you believe me!” And sure as shit, the power plant collapses and Ford’s mom is killed.

Fast forward to present day. Ford is coming home from his tour of duty to his wife and kid in San Francisco. Then he gets a call that his dad who has never gotten over the nuclear power plant collapsing was arrested in Japan for wandering into the “Quarantine Zone.” So Ford goes to Japan to bail out his dad because apparently he has to be there physically to do that and dad is all. “It wasn’t an earthquake son, they are hiding the truth from us!” So they go into the Quarantine Zone and wind up back at the power plant which is now being used to house a giant monster egg.

Dr. Serizawa is there with his team studying the egg which is apparently feeding off nuclear radiation and the readings! They are just like when power plant collapsed! Something is happening, motherfuckers! Then the egg hatches and a giant Bat-Sloth-Spider thing is born and kills a bunch of people including Ford’s dad.

So then Ford and Dr. Serizawa and his team are aboard a US Navy aircraft carrier and it’s exposition time. You see, back when we were blowing up nuclear bombs in the Pacific, we weren’t really testing them. Oh, no, we were trying to kill giant monsters—specifically Godzilla.

Dr. Serizawa gets all serious here while his British assistant/co-doctor/I don’t fucking know looks on with drawn features. A long time ago giant monsters ruled the earth and fed off the radiation our planet was emitting. Then the radiation died down and, as we know from science, rather than dying off themselves as their food source was gone, they burrowed deep into the earth to be nearer to our radioactive core.

Like I said, I didn’t expect this movie to make sense. Don’t even try to explain the giant bipedal lizard okay? Just say it “woke up” or some shit like that. Pacific Rim was just like “Uh, alternative universe rift thing under ocean.” See, that’s good. I can go with that. By trying to explain how this could presumably happen—and failing miserably—you just piss me off.

So now the giant monster burrowed under the earth and what? Do they have a city down there? Is it like Fraggle Rock?

Whatever. Dr. Serizawa has a serious boner for Godzilla, who he refers to as apex predator. He believes that now that the giant Bat-Sloth-Spider thing is alive Godzilla will reappear to “restore balance.”

Remember those “readings” that Ford’s crazy dad kept rambling about? He thought they were echolocation and he was right! Bat-Sloth-Spider thing is calling out so its mate can hatch itself! Remember that egg that Dr. Serizawa found in the Philippines? Holy fuck, we’ve kept it in Nevada with all the other radioactive stuff.

And this was the scene that really pissed me off. You see a bunch of soldiers running down corridors in a super sekrit missile silo built into a mountain, peering in doors, making sure nothing is missing. And then open a door and BAM! Sunlight filters in! Solider man peers out into the desert and then we pan to a shot from above because HALF THE FUCKING MOUNTAIN IS GONE. That’s right, they determined that the monster hatched and TORE OUT HALF THE MOUNTAIN by opening doors INSIDE THE MOUNTAIN. No one felt the mountain get ripped open. No one FROM THE OUTSIDE SAW ANYTHING. Let’s open doors inside and whoa! Look! Half the mountain is gone.

So now there are two Bat-Sloth-Spider things and they’re totally headed for San Francisco because I don’t know. And Godzilla has awoken! He’s headed for them. Dr. Serizawa keeps insisting the military let Godzilla and the Bat-Sloth-Spider things “sort this out themselves” like they are five year olds squabbling over a toy. The military decides to lure the monsters out to sea with a nuclear bomb—they can apparently sense the minute radioactive seepage from a latent bomb—and then blow them up. Because our bombs are better now than they were in the 50’s.

Side note, this pissed me off too. The movie showed the military either shooting at the monsters with bullets or trying to set off a nuke. There was no in-between. Apparently when your handgun doesn’t get shit done, you go straight for the nuclear option.

Oh, and the monsters give off EMP pulses which means jets fall from the sky and shit.

So how are they getting the bomb to San Fran to lure the monsters out to sea? By putting it on a motherfucking train. Now, I know a thing about trains, and so maybe this is just my rage, but you don’t put something super fucking important and time critical on a train. I mean, the train is limited to where it can go by the track, and if it derails or there’s giant pile of monster poo on the tracks, now that train is stuck in Assfuck, NV. And you have to build a road to the train to dig it out.

The military has like helicopters and planes and all kinds of shit they could use to get that bomb to San Francisco. They make it clear that the EMP pulse or whatever only affects a certain area around the monsters. GO AROUND IT THEN. TAKE THE LONG WAY. But don’t worry, the female Bat-Sloth-Spider thing senses the bomb, grabs it, kills a bunch of soldiers, destroys the train and TAKES THE BOMB TO SAN FRANSISCO FOR THEM. It lays its fucking eggs all over the bomb, and all I could think of was, “Mmm, tobiko.”

Now Ford has to haul ass to San Fran to disarm the analog bomb to prevent all of California from being nuked.

All of this culminates in the monsters, the bomb and Ford in San Francisco. Dr. Serizawa is all like “YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND! GODZILLA WILL SAVE US!” while the top military guy is very gravely staring at computer screens and “I hope to God you’re right, Doctor!”

So finally after all this dicking around, we get a good twenty minutes of Godzilla fighting Bat-Sloth-Spider things. I mean, this is what I paid for, not all this stupid exposition that didn’t make any fucking sense anyway.

Then we got to stupidest scene of the movie. Maybe of any movie. During the battle both Godzilla and Ford are laid low. Ford collapses on the smoky, rubble-filled street. The earth shakes as Godzilla falls. They look at each other, an understanding between them. There is no need for words. They both know that Bat-Sloth-Spider thing cannot win. They must work together somehow. Ford realizes, Godzilla is on his side.

This meaningful look sequence was so horrendous I half expected Ford and Godzilla to passionately kiss or something. “It was then, sprawled amid the rubble of my burned city, that I realized all this time I had been wrong. Godzilla only wanted to be loved and despite the fact that he was a giant bipedal lizard, I realized, I was the man to love him.” I bet San Francisco would be totally down with that, actually.

And then when Godzilla rises and wins (you knew he was going to win, right) he just slinks back into the ocean to sleep until more Bat-Sloth-Spider things wake up. Despite being an “apex predator” he doesn’t actually eat the Bat-Sloth-Spider things; he doesn’t even take a leg to go. He just heads back to Fraggle Rock.

I felt like the most appropriate end for this movie would have been Ford and Dr. Serizawa sobbing into their beers, having loved and lost Godzilla. You can’t keep a monster like that tied down. He comes and goes with the wind, loves ‘em and leaves ‘em.

Instead everyone cheers for Godzilla, despite the fact that numerous cities are destroyed and there are thousands (that seemed like a low-ball figure to me) still missing and presumed dead. He destroyed Bat-Sloth-Spider things! He also killed a bunch of people in the process, but what the fuck ever.

I’m mad at this movie. I’m mad that it was dumb. I’m mad that I got chemical burns from Sour Patch Kids on my tongue. I’m mad that the love triangle between Dr. Serizawa, Ford and Godzilla wasn’t fully explored. Go see this movie at your own peril, but honestly, wait for the DVD, and even then I wouldn’t recommend spending the money to rent it.

This film is in theatres and you can check local listings at Fandango and Moviefone (US). 

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    JessicaG says:

    Wow. Thanks, Elyse. You just saved us some money, lol. Don’t try to explain Godzilla, just enjoy the giant bipedal lizard.

    On a side note, “Fraggle Rock” has me in stitches. That’s why Godzilla is so rampagey in cities! He thinks the Dozers built them for him to eat!

  2. 2

    It’s a lovely morning when the review is so much more entertaining than the film, and reading it didn’t cost me the bloated expense of a movie ticket.

    Thank you for sharing.

  3. 3
    Pheebers says:

    My preschooler does not understand why I’m coughing up coffee here.  I thought I was going to be able to hold it together and then “Godzilla only wanted to be loved…”

  4. 4
    Kim W says:

    I normally love these kinds of movies.  I’ve seen Pacific Rim at least 5 times.  I thought this was pretty bad too.  On the bright side, my 11-year-old son thought it was great so they hit their target market.

  5. 5

    Aloha!  While I was away at RT, my inlaws helped hubby with the teens.  He is military and works rotating shifts (to answer your question of what the military does in between nuclear explosions). 

    MIL is a huge Godzilla fan.  When we lived in Japan, we bought her the Ty Beanie Babies versions of Godzilla and other monsters he battled in the Japanese films. 

    MIL took my youngest to see GODZILLA.  It was particularly interesting to youngest as we moved last summer from Hawaii.  We stumbled upon some of the film shots of downtown Waikiki (crowd running down Lewers Street) the night before our flight.  MIL noted that Hawaii does not have an elevated train … obviously the producers inserted one for dramatic effect when Godzilla crushed it.  It was also obvious that the parts of the movie were shot at Kualoa Ranch.  The ranch offers a tour of the film locations; the giant footprints from Jurassic Park are still in place!

    MIL noted that the other monsters snacked on the nuclear subs.  Interesting concept.  She prefers the Godzilla with Matthew Broderick (which was also filmed at Kualoa Ranch).

  6. 6
    Lostshadows says:

    I saw the movie and really liked it. It seemed to have nice balance of Godzilla as an unstoppable force of nature of the first couple of movies, and Godzilla showing up to save humanity’s butt for no obvious reason of the later movies.

    If you watch the original Godzilla (Japanese or US version) its has no levity either. (Okay, the science is bad enough to be funny, but that wasn’t intentional.) This movie is kind of on the same level. I just kind of let the explanations wash over me, resisted the urge to yell “Stop shooting the thing you couldn’t kill with an A-bomb!” at the screen, and enjoyed the cinematography.

    Yes there was stupid, especially the mountain, but most of it held up okay if I didn’t really think about it.

    I think it was worth seeing on the big screen. Not shelling out for 3D and Imax, but I haven’t seen a movie that makes me want to spend extra for those yet anyway.

    Disclaimer: I’m a huge Godzilla fan and my local theater charges $5 for the first shows on Sat., Sun., and Mon.

  7. 7
    jimthered says:

    If you want some giant monsters that are *actually* fun, check out the game KING OF TOKYO.  (Review at http://thearmchaircritic.blogspot.com/2014/04/king-of-tokyo.html )  This is a silly, easy, and tremendously fun game about giant monsters slugging it out in, yes, Tokyo.  And with cards like “Drop from High Altitude,” “We’re Only Making It Stronger” and “It Has a Child” (which shows a monster wearing a diaper).  It’ll make you forget about the new GODZILLA movie (hopefully).

  8. 8
    CarrieS says:

    “He doesn’t even grab a leg to go”.  Elyse, you are THE BEST.
    (OK, I don’

  9. 9
    CarrieS says:

    my comment has this weird half sentence attached.  Ignore it.  I think I started to write something, erased it, but missed a spot.

  10. 10
    Lindsay says:

    Aw, I am so disappointed, I loved Pacific Rim (and love it more every time I’ve watched it) and Cloverfield, I figured how badly could they mess up Godzilla?

    However, because of the main character’s name, I pictured the entire narrative happening with our infamous mayor, Rob Ford, doing it all, and it made SO MUCH MORE SENSE.

  11. 11
    AmyL says:

    So they know these things feed off radiation…so they keep the eggs near radioactive stuff and their only idea to kill them is more nuclear bombs??

    Thank you for saving me from any shred of curiosity I had about this movie.

  12. 12
    theo says:

    I haven’t seen it, but I have to think since LostShadows did, and your review, that it somewhat follows the original concept, the original movie with Raymond Burr. I liked that one. It was terrible, the monster was a man in a rubber suit, the science was terrible, there were a lot of contradictions and it was just fun enough for my child brain to enjoy. And I still like it. So I’d probably like this one too for the same reasons.

  13. 13
    Darlynne says:

    “Mmm, tobiko.”


  14. 14
    Layla says:

    This review is magical. I want the movie to be a love story, now.

  15. 15
    Maria D. says:

    Lol…this seriously cracked me up! I didn’t plan to see it and had seen reviews on FB that said it was bad anyway.  Love the line about “crabbing a leg to go’…you would think they could at least feed him after the battle…lol…and the potential love story between Ford, Godzila and Dr. Serizawa …too funny! Thanks for the great review

  16. 16
    harthad says:

    Someone totally needs to write a novel centered around the Godzilla/Hot Japanese scientist/Random California dude love triangle. It can be an m/m/m (monster/male/male) menage!

  17. 17
    garlicknitter says:

    I saw the one with Matthew Broderick.  The one where Godzilla is nesting in Madison Square Gardens and Broderick’s character is running around saying, “He laid a bunch of eggs and their hatching!”  Honey, when something lays eggs and they hatch, you can be pretty sure that something is female.  You’ll sound more scientific if you use the correct pronouns.

    And I don’t think I need to see anymore Godzilla after that.

  18. 18
    garlicknitter says:

    Oh, good God, “they’re hatching” not “their hatching”.  Sorry about that.

  19. 19
    Dread Pirate Rachel says:

    Elyse deserves a lifetime achievement award for this review. We love you, Elyse!

  20. 20
    Renee says:

    I loved your review – it made me laugh as it was very entertaining.  I thought of going to see this movie but nixed that plan.  I will eventually get DVD from library so I can drink while I watch it!

  21. 21
    chacha1 says:

    I am seriously thinking I need to get the King of Tokyo game to play while we watch this movie at home.

  22. 22
    lindsayb says:

    I loved your review. I’m almost afraid to say that I still want see it!

  23. 23
    shuzluva says:

    Elyse, your review made my morning. The hubster and I groan every time we see the commercial for this movie because it’s so serious. You’ve confirmed all that we guessed at, and we will be avoiding. I nearly died from “Mmm,tobiko”

  24. 24
    Hillary says:

    And what about letting the nuclear bomb go off? I mean, why didn’t they just let him do his job and disarm it?

  25. 25
    HM says:

    Gotta say that your review is making me want to watch this movie because of all the incoherent logic! I love movies like that!

    thanks for the awesome review.

  26. 26
    Katy says:

    Eh, but if you liked Pacific Rim, there’s not really anything in Godzilla that makes it worse (or better). I find it weird that “alternate universe rift” is okay, but “apex predator that lives deep in the oceans” is not okay. I find it weird that “we decided to build giant robots” is okay, but “let Godzilla hunt the MUTA” is not okay. Yes, you make some good points about why did they do this or that, but I can bring up just as many questions for your favorite big-monster flicks.

    That said, it’s fine if this movie didn’t hit the right note for you, but Pacific Rim’s plot was no more logical than Godzilla’s plot. The only thing not really working in Godzilla’s favor was the lack of charismatic human characters. Ford was just there as an audience stand-in. With the exception of some excellent scenery-chewing from Bryan Cranston, everyone else was kind of wooden. Good human characters is probably the seasoning you lacked.

    If you go into the theater just hoping to see a couple of huge-ass monsters fight, this film is definitely for you.

    Oh my God, though, don’t get me started on how much I wanted to love but actually loathed Cloverfield. *cry*

  27. 27

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