Did I get what I expected? Yes.
Did I also get more?
…Yes and no.
First! This is a full-out SPOILER review. Read on past the "spoilers" if you have seen the movie, or don't care about learning several plot and story details.
The main characters in this story are Bryan Cranston (Joe Brody), father to Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Ford Brody), who is married to Elizabeth Olsen (Elle Brody). The two have a son, who reacts to things only when the director wants him to, while Ken Watanabe plays a researcher who has been trying to figure out Godzilla and his motives for decades.
The plot has always been slightly under wraps, and we weren't sure if Godzilla was going to be a hero or a villain—a plot point that unfolds very slowly. Ken Watanabe suggests mid-film that he thinks Godzilla is the key to the film's main problem: two giant Cloverfield monsters trying to hook up from across the Pacific Ocean, destroying cities in the process while they search for food. What food? Radiation, of course. It's a monster movie.
The military plays its usual role of its own worst enemy in this story. Knowing full-well that the monsters, named "MUTO 1" and "MUTO 2," feed off radiation, they continually transport radioactive materials toward (or next to) the creatures.
Okay, great, so was it good, or not?
The movie ultimately falls flat in the monster brawl department. The first big meeting of Godzilla and MUTO cuts away before any action happens, which made several people in the theater I was in mutter an audible "aw, what?" The story really centers around Ford as he tries to make his way back to his wife and son. Coincidentally, the path to his family is the exact path the monsters are taking. I guess that works out for the story, but Olsen doesn't get much of a role aside from looking cute and frightened while wondering where her husband is. She's also a very understanding and patient wife. The film opens with her having not seen her military husband for 14 months. He immediately has to go to Japan (and I mean that same day) to bail his father out or prison, to which she says, "It's okay" and off he goes. She also passes her son off to a secondary character, possibly for some kind of story convenience I still don't understand. It does lead to him being on a bus that is one of the few vehicles to make it off a bridge before Godzilla destroys it, so I guess seeing him in peril during that scene was the whole point.
|"Okay, Elizabeth, in this scene you are ALSO reacting to something off camera, okay? Aaaand ACTION!"|
Oh, right, I forgot about the monsters because they're barely ever on screen, sorry! The MUTOs meet up in San Francisco, which is odd because one of them literally was just in New Mexico surrounded by delicious nuclear waste. Why MUTO 2 walked away from all that still has me scratching my head. The climax should have taken place in the desert, but I guess there are no buildings to Hulk smash there.
When we finally get to San Fran, the action picks up a bit. We also get the biggest tease and disappointment of the movie: a classic "Godzilla" shot, wide, in the city, him on one side of the screen and MUTO on the other. This is going to be amaz—CUT TO HUMANS RUNNING IN TERROR! What the hell!? Just let the monsters fight in front of my eyeballs! Please! They do, however, eventually give us several scenes of Godzilla both getting his ass handed to him and kicking plenty of his own. These are mostly provided through sequences as opposed to one long battle shot, spliced between Ford and his military cohorts running around and the fight.
Buildings get destroyed, explosions happen, and just when you think Godzilla is actually down for the count (after knocking a building onto himself, what a klutz!) he arrives back on screen to act out the greatest finishing move of all time. There is a moment here that made an entire theater of (thus far) only semientertained people simultaneously scream "Ohhhh-hoo-hooooooooo yeah!" If that moment isn't worth the price of admission then you go demand a refund immediately because it was pretty awesome.
Sooooo, it was good? Or it was bad?
Ultimately, I found this movie to be far superior to films like Cloverfield and Pacific Rim. My attention was held the entire time and the teasing of the monster battles was very frustrating but that last shot made it all worth it.
Did you see this movie yet? What was the most frustrating part about it for you? Was it that they killed off Bryan Cranston, which I hadn't mentioned yet? Spoiler alert!