Posted May 14, 2014 by Mikael Angelo Francisco in Movies/TV

MOVIE REVIEW: “Godzilla” is a big, fat load of building-smashing fun

Warner Bros., Legendary Pictures
Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, CJ Adams, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Carson Bolde, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins, and Bryan Cranston
Directed by Gareth Edwards

Running Time: 123 minutes
Philippine Release Date: May 15, 2014
MTRCB Rating: PG

About half a century ago, we had a big radiation problem. Or, to be more specific, science fiction had a big radiation problem. During the past few decades (especially in the ’50s and ’60s), everyone’s favorite go-to explanation for the unexplainable was always radiation of some sort – in the world of comics, for example, that’s how we got  Spider-Man (radioactive spider bite), the Hulk (gamma radiation), the Fantastic Four (cosmic radiation), Daredevil (radioactivity-induced inability to know what color shirt you’re wearing), and possibly the X-Men too (radioactive horrible genetic luck, because Marvel-God probably just hates mutants).

Of course, you can’t really bring up radioactivity in pop culture without mentioning the literal “big daddy” of things that can give you cancer if you so much as pee in adjacent urinals.

Godzilla, King of the Monsters and Founder of the Association of Underpaid Rubber Suit Actors with Painful Rashes.

Debuting in 1954’s creatively titled, uh, “Godzilla,” the colossal, crocodilian city-smasher has stomped his way through countless films, cartoons, and action figure lines in his career. There was even that 1998 mess of a movie – America’s first crack at a live-action/CGI Godzilla flick – which we’re all still trying to erase from our collective memory, one empty Matthew Broderick face at a time.

Hollywood isn’t exactly known for giving up on these things, though, and in celebration of Godzilla’s 6 decades of kaiju-killing tantrums, director Gareth Edwards brings us a plus-sized picture packed with pulse-pounding physical punishment of prehistoric proportions. Man, that’s a lot of P’s.

The movie was absolutely successful in depicting Godzilla’s mass, strength, and complete inability to give a damn about property damage. A far cry from the slender, scientifically-inaccurate-Spielberg-Velociraptor-like Hollywood reimagining from 1998, this one puts the “God” in “Godzilla.” Almost. He’s bigger, meaner, tougher, and… well, fatter. The years didn’t seem to be too kind to him and his hips. Maybe he ate a radioactive McDonald’s branch, I don’t know.

Traditionally, Godzilla has had to deal with all sorts of physically impossible monsters, as well as a robotic doppelganger (because clearly, somebody thought that creating an evil mechanical clone of Godzilla with none of the qualities that keep him from completely turning all of  humanity into paste was a swell idea). In this film, however, ’Zilla has to deal with a couple of monsters that look like what you would get if you combined the Cloverfield monster, the X-Men’s Brood Queen, copious amounts of alcohol, and a bunch of sticky ’80s porno mags.

The film starts out strong story-wise, with an attention-grabbing introductory sequence, gut-wrenching family drama, and a couple of compelling plot threads. Bryan Cranston is definitely the standout star in this flick, and while he doesn’t exactly defeat Godzilla by mixing drugs and getting him high on some sort of iguana cocaine, he manages to give the story a considerable degree of depth and heartfelt impact. Which, of course, are completely thrown out the window during the second act, in favor of explosions, falling buildings,  missiles covered in disgusting toxic sludge, and Ken Watanabe’s perpetually perplexed face.

Pictured: Not Ken Watanabe’s face.

Most of the story (or whatever was left of it by the second act, anyway) revolves around Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who was either just rushing to finish filming so he could go be Quicksilver in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” or painfully aware of the fact that audiences aren’t exactly going to line up for “Godzilla” to feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

It’s also worth noting that Elizabeth Olsen, who plays Taylor-Johnson’s wife in this film, will also be playing his sister the Scarlet Witch in “Age of Ultron.” I’d like to think that some of the production folks who read comics had a good chuckle about that (considering the siblings’ incestuous relationship in the popular alternate-reality Ultimate Marvel comic books), except thinking about volume 3 of The Ultimates always makes me want to throw up.

Overall, “Godzilla” is an engaging and highly entertaining two-hour monster slugfest, and certainly a movie worth watching in IMAX. Just turn off your brain and don’t pay attention to whatever they’re trying to pass off as a story. After all, this is “Godzilla” – the fact that you paid to see a supersized dinosaur who somehow lived under the ocean for millions of years and subsists on what lets the Ninja Turtles eat pizza and talk in surfer slang should kind of tell you to put your Junior Scientist kit away for the time being. Just sit down and enjoy seeing these building-sized horrors beating the ever-living tar out of each other. Seriously, the big battle’s beautifully brutal finish is well worth the price of admission.

The search continues, though, for the Hollywood film that can beat the best American interpretation of Godzilla of all time:

VERDICT: 8 out of 10 things getting mercilessly crushed under Godzilla’s foot.


A daikaiju-sized “thank you” goes out to Warner Bros. Philippines and SM IMAX for the special screening of “Godzilla.”




Mikael Angelo Francisco