It’s that time of year again folks, Summer Blockbuster season. Traditionally tied to Memorial Day weekend at the end of May in the US, it has been creeping earlier in May for a while now.
One could argue that it started back in March this year with the release of Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier. For the sake of those films coming out over the next few months though, it’s probably best if we keep Cap 2 separate; you know, to give these guys a fighting chance.
We’re going to kick off the season with a double bill of reviews. Here goes...
First up is Godzilla, I’ll let you make your own “Monster” puns here, and it’s a pretty good way to kick off the season.
The film starts in 1999, where an unusual discovery in the Philippines leads to a meltdown at a nuclear plant in Japan. A meltdown which is thought to have been caused by the earthquakes in the Philippines, and a meltdown that has a lasting impact on the life of plant employee Joe Brody. (Cranston)
Flash forward to the current day and we find Brody obsessed with finding the truth of what happened back in 1999, an obsession that drags his now adult son Ford Brody (Taylor Johnson) back to Japan to bail him out and bring him back to the US. When scientists at the secretly rebuilt plant start noticing seismic readings similar to those that led to the disaster in 1999, Brody Snr is convinced he is finally going to get answers. His answers arrive in the form of a M.U.T.O (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) who precedes to wreak havoc, and whose arrival leads to the awakening of, King of the Monsters, Godzilla.
From there the film descends into typical action/disaster fair, as the military races to prevent a devastating confrontation between Godzilla and the M.U.T.O.s off the west coast of the US.
For the most part Director Gareth Edwards handles it very well, he is clearly a fan of the genre, and the whole movie is essentially a glorious $170million B-Movie. The problem is that it could, and probably should, have been more. It drags significantly in the second act, which revolves around the depressingly wooden Taylor Johnson, who whilst being generally uninteresting as a character does atleast display a hint of chemistry with Elisabeth Olsen, who plays his wife. The two of them will be appearing together again next year in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and they are going to need to step it up a bit (especially given the performance of a certain character in the second of these reviews...)
Ken Watanabe is criminally underused as the only scientist who really seems to “get” what Godzilla is all about, and his belief that the military should just let Godzilla fight was met with a few nods of approval from the audience.
Also, whilst budgetary restraints may have been behind Gareth Edwards decision to keep the monsters of screen in his first foray into monster movies (see, Monsters), clearly he is not under the same constraints here. This means that his decision to delay Godzilla’s first appearance (he makes us wait about an hour) was clearly an artistic choice. It’s one that I was actually ok with, although I can understand why some people would have been a bit pissed off by it.
Like the final act of the film though, let’s finish the review on a high. The third act is genuinely awesome. It is everything I could have hoped for as Godzilla finally gets down to business and starts fucking up those pesky MOTUs, in a series of spectacularly destructive battles. Seriously, they take destruction of a city to a level that has Superman and General Zod turning round to the authorities and saying “See guys, we could have done worse...”
Fantastic final act aside, the rest of the film suffers from a lack of characters that you can really get behind, and suffers from a second act that drags, and so in conclusion, Godzilla is a good film that could have been great.
A solid 7/10
Next up. X-Men:Days of Future Past