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Half-Baked Human Stories Don't Matter

  • Danish Bagdadi

    Danish Bagdadi

    Desimartini | Updated - June 08, 2014 4:34 PM IST
    3.3DM (1401 ratings)

    Verdict - A handsomely mounted spectacle filled with visceral razzle-dazzle but lacking cohesion and logic.

    GodzillaWatch trailerRelease date : May 16, 2014

    Perhaps the most recognisable import from Japan, a country obsessed with giant creature features (Kaiju being the local moniker), Godzilla ventures forth for a much needed reboot after the 1998 English language disaster heralded by Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin. If that's movie's motto was 'Size does matter' then this one's should be 'Human stories are overrated'. Borrowing elements from a wide array of films including 'Jurassic Park', 'The Day after Tomorrow', '2012' and even the director's own 'Monsters', the movie gets all the money-shots right, but underwhelms overall as the less than stellar human story distracts from what actually matters.

    After the wonderfully crafted credits which play out like an archived government report about a mysterious beast and nuclear tests around the globe, the action jumps to 1999 in south east Asia, where two separate incidents lay the groundwork for rest of the film. Cut to fifteen years later, John Brody (Bryan Cranston) still mourning the loss of his wife in a nuclear power plant accident in Japan, is convinced that the incident was no accident. Despite his son Ford's (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) protests, they sneak in to the quarantine zone to discover it's all just one big government cover-up also involving another shady non-government group who's represented by two scientists Serizawa and Graham (Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins). They have been observing and containing a giant mutated insect (later named MUTO by the Navy) which thrives on radiation. It eventually breaks free of the facility and heads off towards San Francisco to rendezvous with its mate that breaks free from a nuclear waste dumping site, stateside. However the army which is on high alert picks up the trail of another behemoth also headed towards San Francisco. The "alpha-predator" as he dubbed by Serizawa, is none other than the king of monsters, Godzilla, who's trying to reclaim his dominance over what he thinks is rightfully his; the planet.

    Then there's the whole human angle which fails in the second half, primarily involving Ford's wife (Elizabeth Olsen) and son in San Francisco. In the attempt to provide a human angle to root for and empathise with, the characters provided are underdeveloped and not worth caring for. So when the shit hits the fan and San Francisco is under siege from two giant insects and an oversized lizard, you really shouldn't be shifting the focus to the effort of the ants to save their hill. Yes, there is a story filled with allegories about nature vs man and a line by Serizawa sums it up nicely about man's folly, but honestly it's a movie about giant monsters duking it out at the end of the day. I know the lesson is that we humans are redundant in the larger scale of things and nature is an unforgiving deity that will take its own course with or without us.

    It gets the scale and scope of destruction spot on; glorious lingering shots of hollowed out landscapes with littered trails of destruction laid in its wake. Some of the most impressive sequences being those set in Hawaii with the Army trying to hunt down the MUTO and Godzilla's arrival for a showdown at Honolulu airport.

    Seen often from far off, they are amazing to behold and at least a dozen shots later, bordering on destruction-porn! However despite this, I was less than impressed in the finale. The reason for this being twofold, one that the two creatures still aren't scary enough and the second being that so little is known about Godzilla and even lesser of a character provided to him. The Kaiju in Pacific Rim has more character than these monsters.

    As usual the effects are exemplary and the background score by Alexandre Desplat serviceable if not entirely suitable. Other than Bryan Cranston, none of the others have much to work with really despite a high profile starcast.

    Fans of the original (the 1954 one and the Japanese iterations) will find much to enjoy and appreciate about how many elements this movie manages to sneak in from there. However those new to ride, might be left scratching their heads as to all the hoopla. It's a handsomely mounted spectacle filled with visceral razzle-dazzle but lacking cohesion and logic.

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