Saturday, May 17, 2014

Godzilla (2014) Review

Sorry to disappoint all you Breaking Bad fans like myself, but Bryan Cranston is not the star of the film Godzilla. He is relegated to a supporting role, an important one, but supporting none the less. Elizabeth Olsen, up and coming star of extraordinary talent, also not the star. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is the lead actor listed and is given the most screen time of any one performer featured in the film, nevertheless, not the star. The one real flaw of the film is that it dedicates a lot of time to developing the characters and the human relationships, yet on this level it never quite comes together, and occasional scenes are hampered by recognizable faces giving flat performances delivering clunky dialogue. Despite this, I am giving this franchise reboot a rave review, as I was in awe of what was achieved here despite the issues I mentioned.

This brings us to the real stars of the film. First up, director Gareth Edwards, a man with only one feature film under his belt, a low budget feature I unfortunately am yet to see titled Monsters released in 2010. I entered the cinema having no idea whether Edwards was the right choice for this massive blockbuster and I exited knowing the answer was a resounding yes. Godzilla is so brilliantly paced utilizing a slow burn style that I was literally getting goosebumps waiting for the shit to hit the fan, and once it did I wanted to jump out of my skin with joy. I could sense others in my sold out IMAX theater getting restless and antsy as the potentially epic action sequences were constantly teased but not yet fully realized as the film carried along, but I bought in early on this storytelling choice and was completely engrossed throughout, along for the ride and willing to go wherever it took me. Edwards followed the path taken by other great monster flicks like Jaws and Jurassic Park, knowing that while everyone may be waiting to see the highly anticipated creature, revealing the monster too early and often can appease some but will result in overkill by the time the film winds down. I admire the bold decision to limit the King of Monsters to such a limited amount of screen time. When Edwards brought the majestic beast into the frame, he utilized those moments to perfection.

Another star of the film is a person whom an audience rarely knows the name of or acknowledges during conversation after it is over: the composer Alexandre Desplat, a six time Oscar nominee who is yet to bring home the trophy. Unfortunately I doubt he will be recognized for his work on Godzilla, but it is truly something special, a haunting compilation of music that constantly sets a spine tingling tone for this dark and brooding picture, scene after scene after scene. Without his score, my intense admiration for the film as a whole would likely not be as over the top enthusiastic, as it honestly might be my favorite single aspect of the entire thing.

On a technical level, Godzilla is flawless, featuring incredible cinematography, sublime visual effects and a pulsing, beautifully blended sound mix that knows exactly the right moments to knock your god damn socks off without ever being overbearing. A feast of the senses, go see Godzilla on the biggest screen you can find. I am more than willing to look past the flaws when a movie features so much excellence otherwise. This is one I will revisit time and time again for years to come.


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