Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


GODZILLA (2014). Director: Gareth Edwards.

A gigantic egg is discovered in the Philippines and taken to what is supposed to be a nuclear power plant in Japan. When a "meltdown" occurs scientist Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) must close a hatch on his own wife (Juliette Binoche) to keep radiation from leaking. That's pretty much the last dramatic thing -- in the human sense -- that happens in this new/old take on Godzilla, in which the main monsters are not the Big Guy but a pair of creatures known as "MUTO"s [Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism]. It was the emergence of one of these creatures that actually caused the meltdown. It also develops that Godzilla actually did appear back in 1954 (when the first Godzilla film was released), and he's come back to set nature right and get rid of the MUTOs, who are ravaging Las Vegas after causing much destruction on Honolulu. Joe's son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is one of the military men fighting against the monsters. Godzilla got surprisingly good reviews and fan reaction. Unlike the first American Godzilla film with Matthew Broderick, the movie doesn't ignore what's happened in the Japanese films -- Godzilla is a good guy fighting the bad monsters; there are little kids running about; one of the MUTOs attacks an elevated train -- but what the geeky fans of the Japanese movies may love about the series pretty much sinks this reboot. There's not enough of Godzilla, whom others have described as "a guest star in his own movie." The too-metallic MUTOs remind one of the monster in Deadly Mantis, and while Godzilla doesn't look bad, some of his scenes are so underlit that it's hard to see what's happening or be especially impressed. There are a couple of good scenes and shots -- Godzilla swimming under a bridge where the people look like ants; the flood that washes through Honolulu --- but these aren't enough to save the movie. Only slightly better than Pacific Rim, another movie influenced by Japan's monster flicks.

Verdict: Too much pandering to the geeky fans of the Japanese series -- but it appears to have paid off commercially. **. 

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