Godzilla (2014) is everything Godzilla fans could want
So first of all, let me just answer the question that I know is on your mind: Is it true? Is this movie really as good as people keep saying? And the answer is yes. Godzilla is indeed a very, very good Godzilla movie. It’s nothing more than that, it doesn’t take things in any unexpected directions, but neither is it any less than that. This really is just… a very, very good Godzilla movie.
It’s everything a hardcore fan of Godzilla could possibly want, and it’s everything a person who only knows a little bit about Godzilla could expect. Or, if you’re just a disaster movie enthusiast or simply want to see a bunch of monsters fight it out in an epic battle, this is as good as it gets.
The movie takes the approach of being yet another sort-of/kind-of sequel to the original Godzilla from 1954. In this continuity, there’s been a monster attack once before, though very long ago, and it was immediately covered up by the government. Eventually, it’s revealed the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ended World War II have a connection to the plot of this movie.
I would get into the cast and characters, but the fact of the matter is that the human characters are mostly unimportant to the story, and receive just the bare bones amount of development that allows us to see the events of this story from their perspective.
You could call this a flaw in the script, but I can’t help but think the filmmakers were highly aware that having fully-fleshed out characters wasn’t terribly important for a movie like this, and kept the human side of the story to a minimum to leave plenty of space for what we actually paid money to see: Godzilla himself and lots of kaiju action.
And you can absolutely see how this movie draws its inspiration from the 1954 movie in theme, tone, and visuals. The original Gojira, as many already know, was largely conceived of as an allegory for the nuclear devastation that occurred in 1940s Japan, and how hopelessly terrifying that was. In that movie, all the bullets and missiles harmlessly bouncing off Godzilla were less of a joke, and more of a disturbing representation of just how powerless humans can be in the face of unimaginable threats.
In the same way, this movie takes the time to truly immerse us in the horrifying outcome of massive disasters, by simply showing those affected (with strikingly beautiful imagery) in such a way that the movie doesn’t even need any human-centric subplots to get the message across that these are serious matters (it is a disaster movie, after all). But it’s also a movie that knows it doesn’t need to play tricks on us, and never treats its audience like idiots.
The visual side of the movie is sublime. It’s a very good-looking movie, and although it starts off slow, along with having several plot contrivances to get the main character to where he needs to be, it all pays off in the amazing finale, where Godzilla fans get to see what they never knew they’d been wanting to see their entire lives.
This truly is a Godzilla movie, through and through. Godzilla looks awesome, and the scale of the monsters and the destruction of cities genuinely feels enormous (and sometimes very overwhelming), which is a clear reason why this is a movie probably best enjoyed in the cinema on the big screen. And the many small shout-outs and call-backs to Godzilla’s long history only further serve to prove that this film was made by people who are true Godzilla enthusiasts.
Basically, when it comes to Hollywood making a Godzilla movie, this is about the best possible outcome anyone could have hoped for. What it delivers, it delivers very well, and is right on the mark. I highly enjoyed watching this movie in the theater. A better homage can’t be made and it was a treat to watch.
[—Editing/cleanup/revisions to this article provided by Dr. Winston O’Boogie and Elliot Hodgett.]