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Wellington Daily News - Wellington, KS
  • Movie review: Not enough Godzilla in ‘Godzilla’

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  • I guess my first question is why did they even bother to call this one “Godzilla?”
    Oh, there’s a big charcoal gray dinosaur-like creature knocking down buildings and going up against other big creatures that are knocking down buildings. And he’s able to torch anything in his path with his atomic breath. In a direct nod to the original 1954 film “Gojira,” there’s a scientist named Dr. Serizawa (though the Serizawa in that one wore an eye patch), and there’s plenty of talk of atomic power gone awry. Movie history buffs know that the slow-moving monster in the original film stood in for the atomic devastation America had set upon Japan nine years earlier.
    But Godzilla doesn’t even make an appearance in this film until the one-hour mark. Hold on. What, then, is the “massive terrestrial creature that has taken to the air” that we are told about near the beginning of the film? It most likely came out of the giant eggshell that was found near an old, abandoned nuclear plant where “electromagnetic pulses are happening again, just like 15 years ago.” But the creature, of whom we get a glimpse, is too sleek, and is like something of a mix between an insect and a dinosaur. Hey! That’s not Godzilla! That, it’s later revealed, is a Muto. No, wait, there are TWO Mutos. They run around absorbing radioactive fuel, which makes them grow and grow. And ... are they kissing? Are they going to spawn? Where the heck is Godzilla?
    The big gray guy eventually arrives, coming ashore, preceded by a tsunami that puts kids and dogs in peril! And he does battle with the big, nasty Mutos. But this long movie (it’s just over two hours, but feels like one of Kevin Costner’s ’90s films) has too much talk, too many side stories, and too much exposition before it gets down to the real nitty gritty.
    Part of the problem with the film’s length is an unnecessary 1999 prologue at a nuclear reactor in the Philippines that introduces Dr. Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) as well as two married scientists, Joe and Sandra Brody (Bryan Cranston and Juliette Binoche), and features fossils, high radiation levels, and people in panic. SPOILER ALERT, ONE THAT YOU REALLY SHOULD KNOW: Fans of Bryan Cranston and Juliette Binoche shouldn’t blink. There’s also the scientist’s assistant character, Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins), who’s in the movie for no discernible reason.
    Cut to 15 years later, say hello to our military hero and explosives expert Ford Brody (a disappointingly bland Aaron Taylor-Johnson), the son of those scientists, who has come home from war and returned to his nurse wife Elle (Elizabeth Olsen). Then get ready for some convoluted stuff about that old supposedly irradiated nuke plant being rebuilt, and how some atomic tests in 1954 weren’t actually atomic tests, but had something to do with killing a big creature, and (in another nod to “Gojira”) a secret government project to study the new creatures but not destroy them.
    Page 2 of 2 - Things finally do get around to Godzilla, who is reportedly heading toward Las Vegas, but we only get to see the post-visit remnants of his visit to Sin City, accompanied by Elvis crooning “(You’re the) Devil in Disguise.” And there’s Dr. Serizawa insisting that “Godzilla is here to restore balance. He can defeat the Mutos.”
    Of course, Godzilla and the Muto couple finally go at it, and a great deal of real estate goes crumbling down. But it all comes much too late in the film. The new Godzilla can move around at a pretty good clip, but the movie plods, like the old Godzilla.
    Ed Symkus covers movies for More Content Now.
    GODZILLA
    Written by Max Borenstein; directed by Gareth Edwards
    With Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Juliette Binoche, Elizabeth Olsen, David Strathairn, Bryan Cranston
    Rated PG-13
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