VIDEO: Godzilla (2014)

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The Fear Fan takes a look at the 2014 remake of Godzilla! Was it a titanic success, or just a colossal bore?

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  • I actually kind of hated “Godzilla”. Most of the movie is a bunch of boring characters shooting meaninglessly at the indestructible skin of a monster that barely acknowledges them (and a couple boring characters doing nothing at all). The most interesting character bites it super early in the film. It is boring, joyless, and the color pallet is so washed out and dull.

    Either have the humans contribute in some way, or just go full “Cloverfield” and have them be completely meaningless people trying to survive in a monster attack. This middle ground this movie takes has the humans doing stupid things, and their only accomplishments are trying to rollback their own stupid crap.

    My long rambling comparison of the thing to “Man of Steel” a movie that at the very least had humans do things that contributed to the plot.

    • fearfanforever

      Yeah, I actually got a laugh in the theater when I shouted out ‘THAT’LL SHOW ‘EM!” when those S.W.A.T. guys tried to shot him with SMGs.
      Couldn’t help myself. :-)

      • “So we have scenarios where you’re sitting on a nuclear stockpile to shame North Korea and are throwing peas at a giant robot crab on the off-chance there might be a bigger giant robot crab just around the corner.” -Yatzhee Croshaw
        What is really sad is that the military are putting their best assets in play, but it is utterly meaningless. If you ever have to ask yourself, “would the story have been any different had all the view point characters not been there at all?” Then the story has some serious issues.

  • Thomas Stockel

    Thanks, FF. I found this movie to be terribly mediocre and I agree with everything you said.

  • Zorha

    ICBM Dildo? …. *Stares Blankly* … … … Congratulations, you just hit the same level needed for mind bleach as Mr. Mendo’s review of Antichrist …

    That being said … would the product slogan be the same as Timex?

    Monsters 2? Eh, I’ll make an effort to see that one in theatres. I’m curious to see the next main characters Edwards wants to nuke from orbit. Think about it.

    • fearfanforever

      He might hear that reference and decide to make an ‘Alien’ movie that’s 2 hours of Ripley quietly reading a book.
      Good to hear from you again, BTW!

  • Endorenna

    I actually really loved this movie. It was mostly fun, and while the characters were perhaps cut away to more often than they should’ve been (and the characters did something INCREDIBLY stupid to build tension), I actually did give a damn about what happened to them, even though I mostly came to watch Godzilla stomp on stuff. ;) Also, I actively avoided advertizing for the movie, so I didn’t know there would be more than Godzilla as far as monsters, so that was a great surprise for me! ^_^

    Good review pointing out the flaws of the movie, though; I enjoyed it, but I’d love to see the next one fix the first one’s mistakes.

    • fearfanforever

      I’m definitely crossing my finger for G2. I didn’t have as much love for this one, but I’m currently considering it a tech demo for the things to come. :-)

      • Muthsarah

        Assuming that Godzilla is (yet another) origin story – it really isn’t, but…as they were clearly starting a new (hopeful) franchise, I think it’s fair to lump it in with them – do you have any theories for why A) so many origin stories in general aren’t that good (if you even feel that way……..I do), and B) why this movie in particular failed to buck the trend?

        I’ll admit, I haven’t seen Godzilla (2014). I was curious to, but consensus was far too “eehhhh….” that it didn’t seem worth it for me. The main complaint seems to be about the human characters not being terribly engaging (after the first 30 minutes, at least). Do you think it was even reasonable, in our current cinematic climate, for it to be any other way? International audiences, cost of special effects, trailer concerns. I dunno. Whatever. I’m playing the odds that you know more about this than I do. Since you have a show, and thus prolly spend more time thinking about these things than I do.

        I’d like to think that Hollywood knows what it’s doing when it comes to creating an entertainment product, but my hopes keep getting dashed week after week with movies that excite the casual audiences but disappoint the long-time fans, or when they make a legitimately good movie and nobody goes to see it (on that note, Edge of Tomorrow was very fun….and it’s not doin’ well….). Was it unreasonable, in 2014, to expect a movie with 90-120 minutes of Godzilla stomping on the world? Is it just IMpossible to make a movie about giants smashing things, without devoting at least half the time to human characters even the film’s defenders don’t seem to give a damn about? Transformers, Pacific Rim, now Godzilla….

        Could it be that the reason these films don’t ever seem to fully work is because it’s somehow just not possible for this genre to fully work? For some reason? Or should we still keep expecting a movie that can balance one part giant monster smashiness with either compelling human characterization and an interesting twist on the spectacle of witnessing such a catastrophe first-hand, or at least an equal second dose of giant monster smashiness?

        • fearfanforever

          Well, to be honest, I don’t think most of the modern origin stories are ‘bad’ so much as they are ‘tired’. We already KNOW how Bruce Wayne became Batmen, how Clark Kent put on a cape, how Bruce Banner sucked up a ton of Gamma radiation- we don’t NEED to see it again, especially when there are plenty of films that are willing to dispense with that and simply tell us a story about the character.
          I can understand WHY studios want to do it- they’re starting over and what better place to start at the beginning? Plus, they’re afraid to confuse audiences by suddenly changing the universe without giving us a film to explain WHY things are different this time.
          Still, there’s plenty of proof that that’s not necessary- Tim Burton’s Batman, while it includes a few flashbacks, gives us a story where Batman is Batman. We don’t have to watch the years of training, we already know who he is, and it works. Incredible Hulk? While you could argue it’s quality or lack thereof, there’s ANOTHER film that rebooted a franchise without being an origin story.
          Godzilla 2014 straddles a strange line between being an origin story and being something like those other two films I just mentioned. This is CLEARLY the first time Godzilla is appearing to the world in this film, but we don’t actually WITNESS the first encounters with the creature, except in a few mercifully brief flashbacks.
          If they wanted to do an origin story, they failed since the film is only marginally about Godzilla. If it’s not, then it failed because of both it’s lack of compelling story and it’s inability to show us an adequate amount of smashyness.
          DO I think it’s possible to make a film of that sort in this day and age?
          In fact, I’ve thought of at least 2 different ways they could have fixed this mess.

          • Cristiona

            We also get 90% of the backstory in the opening credits, which I thought was a pretty clever way of doing things. The exposition dump in the movie was fine because it was A) brief and B) being given to a bunch of people who needed that information, as opposed to the tired old, “I’m now going to tell you things we both already know.”

          • Muthsarah

            “Well, to be honest, I don’t think most of the modern origin stories are
            ‘bad’ so much as they are ‘tired’. We already KNOW how Bruce Wayne
            became Batmen, how Clark Kent put on a cape […]”

            Who is “we” here? People familiar with these characters from years back, perhaps even childhood? Is that really a large percentage of the target audience? Were the recent Star Trek films really targeted at long-time Trek fans? Were the last two Spidermans targeted at long-time comics readers? When “Days of Future Past” completely re-wrote the roles/powers of Kitty Pryde and Wolverine, was it because they just felt it would fit better, so it was worth potentially pissing of those who know better, or did they even care at all what X-Men fans thought?

            Look, I’ll cut out the rest of the intro and just cut to the chase: I’m legitimately wondering if there’s any point these days in criticizing a film because it doesn’t “get” the property right.

            Anybody who has any prior knowledge of these properties, and of any previous films/comic books/TV series/etc. doesn’t seem to be the target audience of any of these recent movies. The target is always “the mainstream”. The people who may or (perhaps statistically) may not know and/or care one whit about the characters portrayed in these movies. They just go to see them for pure spectacle, with no pre-conceptions. Because the trailers have the same Prometheus/Inception “BWWAAAAAAAAAAAAMMMM!!!” sound effect, rapid editing, post-title stinger, etc. Because of whatever else they passively picked up on from various media stimuli.

            Scattershot comment. Typical for me. God, I went to see “Edge of Tomorrow” (not pimping it out, it’s just still at the forefront of my brain, being the last movie I saw in theatres), and I was standing in line behind several guys. NONE of whom even knew the name of the movie they were seeing. And they were seeing the same one I was seeing. The first batch didn’t know the name, wasted about ten seconds “ummmmm”ing, and then just said “the fucking Tom Cruise movie”. The second batch, right behind them and well within ear-shot, fumbled just as much, and ended up saying “uhhhhhh…………three for…..uhhhh……..”, at which point one of them left the line to find the poster nearby, and having checked it, came back and confidently declared “three for ‘Live, Die, Repeat'”. Which is the SLOGAN for that movie, not the TITLE.

            They were five. And none of them knew the name of the movie they had shown up to pay to see. I knew. And yet I was but one.

            Not a perfect example for Godzilla (which is franchise, whereas Edge of Tomorrow isn’t), but I think it points to the same lazy patterns among moviegoers. Patterns I’m confident moviemakers and marketers must know about. If people don’t know the name of a movie they’re going to see, can you expect they’d even know the franchise the movie they’re showing up to see is tied in with? Is it pointless to even EXPECT moviemakers to pitch movies at people who bother to care about a movie before they see it? To have some former knowledge of the franchise being pillaged, of the name being appopriated? Of the object to which the “homage” is being paid?

            Is it, statistically, unreasonable for those of us who know or care ANYTHING, to expect that A) filmmakers either honor any previous movies/books/shows/anything that the recent movies are being based on, or B) we should expect that most of a movie’s plot or characters should actually fit into the movie as a whole (the Transformers movies being so frighteningly popular), or just…..

            I think you probably catch my drift by now. Is it worth having these (not to us, but to others) high expectations? Or are we just setting ourselves up for disappointment? Does it matter if Godzilla (2014) even gets Godzilla right? Does it matter if Spiderman 2 (2014) even feels like Spiderman? Does it matter if Star Trek (2009, 2013) even remotely resembles Star Trek (1966-2005)? Are these movies even FOR us? “Us” being anyone who cares about these movies or anything they’re related to? And are we in error to expect that they even should be? Or should we just treat them as “the mainstream” seem to treat them: as disposable periods of two-hour entertainment, to be discarded and forgotten as soon as one leaves the theatres?

            EDIT: I don’t wanna make it seem that I blew past the rest of your comment:

            “If they wanted to do an origin story, they failed since the film is only marginally about Godzilla. If it’s not, then it failed because of both it’s lack of compelling story and it’s inability to show us an adequate amount of smashyness.
            DO I think it’s possible to make a film of that sort in this day and age?

            In fact, I’ve thought of at least 2 different ways they could have fixed this mess.”

            So…if you seem to be finally in agreement with yourself that the movie failed (you said it was OK, and that you were OK with how little Godzilla was actually in it, but then you went on to criticize how little Godzilla they showed…), what’s your suspicion for WHY they chose to make the movie the way that it was, so that it failed at being everything it could have possibly been trying to be (it’s even a bit of a box-office disappointment)? Lack of confidence in making a movie that was 50% giant monsters smashing things? Limitations on how much screentime they could fill up with convincing special effects? A genuince belief that “less is more”, no matter how “less” it is? A genuine belief that the Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elisabeth Olson characters would make for RIVETING drama for moviegoers worldwide? Seems no critic I follow is happy with much of anything beyond the last 30 minutes, when they actually get some dedicated smashy-smashy. But why would the movie have ended up this way? Do you think they A) made the movie the creators most wanted to make for their own sakes/vision, B) the movie they genuinely felt the audience would love the most, C) the movie they could make the fastest and cheapest, or D) the movie they felt would make the most money? If the movie failed, was it because the creators didn’t understand the audience, or because it just wasn’t possible for them to make a Godzilla movie that would please both die-hards and casuals, so they aimed for the middle, possibly pleasing nobody?

            I just have a very, very difficult relationship with big-budget genre filmaking these days. I don’t know what they want (other than money), and half the time, I suspect even they don’t know.

          • fearfanforever

            Ah, now I understand what you were asking! Sorry I didn’t get it the first time around.
            Anyway, it’s not an easy question to answer, and while there are plenty of people who would tell you that Hollywood’s just pumping out ‘trash for casuals’, I think the situation’s a bit more complex. Really, you have to look at the production process.
            First, a studio acquires a property, and then, to exploit that property, they hire writers, a director, etc. to make the film.
            THOSE folks, are entirely concerned with profit, and want to attract the crowd who just like the trailer, and have no personal investment in the property. When they, the producers, are hiring, they go one of two routes.
            First, they can hire a director and writer who ‘get’ the property. In this case, they usually know some talented guy or gal who’s a super fan of the property they’ve just bought, and who might even have an awesome script on hand. That was actually the case with Aliens, where Jim Cameron had already written up a cool script for the franchise and approached some folks at the company. Another case is the Avengers film, where they hired a renowned geek lord with an obvious love of the source material.
            In this case, you’ll usually get a pretty good franchise film, something that audiences love, both longstanding fans AND the casual crowd.
            Then, there’s the SECOND way of doing things. After they purchase the property, the studio asks themselves who they can hire to put asses in seats. They’re spending millions to make this thing, so they want mass appeal. They hire someone with a reputation for making big budget films that appeal to the casual, “what’s the name of that Tom Cruise movie?” viewer like the guys you described. When they do THAT, you get the Michael Bay Transformers and other sundry abortions.
            Now, like you said, IS there any point criticizing a film because it isn’t faithful to the franchise, property, etc.?
            Well, yes and no.
            Adaptation is a process of distillation, so when they’re making a film based on pre-existing material, be it a remake of an existing franchise, a sequel, or adapting a comic book, novel, etc., things are going to change. That’s a given.
            Still, there ARE some changes that, while they might make sense, seem to make a mockery of the very thing they were meant to create.
            In the end, the conclusion I’ve come to is this- the only criteria an adaptation, sequel or remake must meet is that it stands on it’s own two legs.
            Times change, and properties change with them. We have to accept that.
            Sometimes, they’ll get it right. We’ll get a film that manages to encapsulate everything we love about a series or franchise.
            Other times, we’ll get something completely different that will either succeed on its own merits, or take a steaming dump on the things we love.
            In the end, some are for us, some are for the masses, and regardless of which we get in any given situation, it’s important to remember that even if they DID try to make trash for casuals, we STILL have the original version to go back to.
            Know that the above might seem a little nebulous, but hope it gets across how I feel.
            ON TO THE SECOND PART!
            I wasn’t being self contradictory- I said that he appeared in all the right places, but wasn’t given anything to do. That is completely true. He shows up at the place where action SHOULD be, but then nothing happens, as demonstrated by my Pacific Rim gag. I don’t think he should have had more appearances in the movie, so much as I wish that what appearances he DID have were extended to a reasonable length.
            As for WHY they made it that way, I just have to point towards Gareth Edwards again. The way things played out seemed to fit with the style he displayed in Monsters, so I have to assume that this movie is what he wanted to make it.
            I can’t really blame the studio, since these are the same guys that pretty much gave Guillermo del Toro everything he needed to make Pacific Rim, a film with a very satisfying amount of the smash-smashy. Also, I can’t blame the budget, since they obviously had enough to make it look awesome and hire some FANTASTIC actors.
            I’ve read interviews with Edwards, and he’s apparently a HUGE kaiju fan. It seems that this was the film he genuinely wanted to make.
            I guess that makes this a weird example where the studio hired somebody who loves the property, but that person’s vision just didn’t mesh with what other fans wanted.

  • FEnM

    I think I liked this better than you, but, yeah it wasn’t without its problems…
    A few specifics:

    1. I DID see the similarity to the Cloverfield monster (unless you were joking about not seeing the resemblance?), but I didn’t mind. I liked Clovey’s design, so.. eh.

    2. I didn’t have a problem with Cranston’s character dying. Though in fairness, part of that might be because I read something that clued me into it happening before I saw the film.

    3. I liked Ford and his family okay, but I never really cared about his “I have to get back to my family” stuff (though they also didn’t have him going on about it so often it bugged me). They honestly could have cut the wife and son out of the plot and nothing would have changed.

    4. At the end, I kept waiting for the big G to walk up and take the nuke off the boat Ford was on, thus solving the problem of getting it away from land before it went off.

    5. While I see that they were waiting till the big battle at the end to really go nuts with the monster fighting, I agree that they cut away a little too much. You can have more than one monster fight in your monster movie (look at “Pacific Rim”).

    6. You mentioned the director’s restraint: I was surprised–pleasantly so–when I saw that this film had a 2 hour running time. So many action movies these day wanna push the 2 1/2 – 3 hour mark, and it’s rarely justified by the plot.

    • fearfanforever

      I tend to agree with most of what you said.
      Honestly, you’re spot on about being able to cut Ford out. Most of the scenes he was put there to witness could have been conveyed without his presence, as was demonstrated with the ‘waste dump’ vignette. They probably should have had him get back to his family immediately and make the rest of the film more of a disaster movie involving him getting them to safety.
      Also, yeah, the length was a HUGE benefit. Brevity is the soul of wit.

  • Cristiona

    I largely agree with your points. I thought the pacing was off, especially with them constantly cutting away from Kaiju Smackdown to humans running around. I mean, come on dude, this isn’t Monsters. You have a budget. You can show the Kaiju fighting. It feels like this movie would have been miles better with them cutting 10-15 minutes. It wasn’t as bad with the human-focus as Transformers, but it was pretty excessive.

    I don’t really get the Cloverfield/MUTO comparisons, personally. I thought MUTO looked more inspired by Gyaos than anything (at least, in the head).

    All that said, the first Godzilla roar was amazing, and when he finally got pissed off enough to use his atomic breath, the audience I was with literally cheered.

    • fearfanforever

      Hell yeah! I even joined in with the cheer. :-)
      And as for them cutting 15 minutes, I don’t think that was the problem as them needing to fill that 15 minutes with something interesting. ;-)
      I’ve heard a lot of Gyaos comparisons, and I’m a bit more inclined to agree there, at least on the flying one.

  • The_Stig

    It’s not going to hold up, but let’s be honest: Roland Emmerich set the bar for American Godzilla remakes pretty fucking low. All this film had to do was not suck as much as Godzilla ’98 and in that respect it succeeded.

    • fearfanforever

      Yeah, it showed we’re at least able to get it sort of right, but dammit, we could have done so much MORE with what we had.

  • freddy

    I’d tend to agree with your judgment: Good but not great. It feels like most of the movie’s sins are really its virtues taken too far. For example, it’s clear the movie owes a large debt to Cloverfield with the conceit of a giant monster attack told mostly from a human on the ground perspective, and for the most part it works well enough. But the downside to that is that it goes too far and we don’t get enough fun monster fights, or enough of them when they happen. Also, we get way too much of what’s-his-face, the least interesting bomb disposal technician ever.
    It did seem kind of weird that they kept giving all the soldier assault rifles. Yeah, like a 5.56 round is going to do anything to creatures that are shrugging off tank rounds like rain drops. I’d think friendly fire accidents would be of much greater concern than whatever they thought an M-16 might do. I dunno. Maybe they were worried about running into looters or something.
    I guess that’s another symptom of the huge monsters from a human perspective thing. The monsters are pretty much ignoring the people, which means there’s not a whole lot individual people can do. Giant monsters as a metaphor for climate change, I guess.