Sunday 18 May 2014

Godzilla (2014) - Gareth Edwards

The creature Godzilla (or Gojira) was originally conceived in Japan post-WWII as a metaphor for the dangers of nuclear power.  Over the years the King of the Monsters has been bastardised adopted by US audiences and its original meaning diluted.  In this new and messy incarnation Godzilla becomes symbolic of nuclear dread and environmentalism in a modern world - "the arrogance of man is thinking nature is in our control".  The result is an atomically god awful film.

Disaster films are meant to be melodramatic, but Godzilla just piles on cliché after cliché.  It takes far too long for the action to get going; instead we're first introduced to crazy scientist Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston - him from Breaking Bad) and his boring family, leading to an overly complicated narrative that's laughably full of plot holes.  It's literally a checklist of everything you'd expect in a disaster film: slow motion 'it's behind you' shots; characters making endlessly bad (but apparently dramatically right) decisions; a dog that gets saved; hordes of extras running away from peril into the camera (run to the side!); a script full of blatant foreshadowing spoken by gruff empty shells of machismo; a globetrotting plot that still results in America saving the day; and young children being saved at every turn just to increase the melodrama to hyperbolic levels.

This extends to the characterisation.  Inept military leaders clash with crazy scientists spouting philosophical drivel (Ken Watanabe), whilst most everyone stands gormlessly staring at the action around them.  Aaron Taylor-Johnson's Ford Brody is just another jarhead solider; Cranston is underused; and not even Elizabeth Olsen can overcome the limitations of her role as Brody's wife.

And what's better than one monster?  Three, apparently.  Godzilla actually arrives on the scene to destroy two 'MUTOs' that appear purely to throw the viewers off the scent of 'the big monster reveal'.  Edwards' motto seems to be the more monsters on screen the more exciting the action becomes.  He's wrong, not least of all due to the character design.  Watching a realistically portrayed Chewitt's monster attempting to destroy some oversized alien-like cockroaches and everything else in its path with its freakishly small T-Rex arms is nothing short of hilarious. Why not chuck in some other monsters whilst you're at it: Alien, Predator, King Kong and the alien from Cloverfield?  And why do so many people either lose sight of the monsters or seem shocked at their appearance when they're so damn big?

It's just one of many preposterous questions in what is the disaster movie to end all disaster movies.

No really.  Please make it stop.