Movie Review: Godzilla

GODZILLA!!!! I’m going to admit something here: I’ve never seen a Godzilla movie. Not all the way through. My knowledge (or lack thereof) has only ever existed as what I absorbed through the zeitgeist.

The pieces I saw of the most recent American incarnation seemed right terrible, and best avoided. How dare you do that to Jean Reno. He was Leon FFS.

But the trailer for this one looked really cool, and a friend who is into Godzilla seemed excited. Lucky me, then, I got invited to the premiere.

Don’t worry, no spoilers, I promise.

With no preconceived notions of what a Godzilla movie should be (other than entertaining), I had a reasonably open mind. I say “reasonably” because I still expect a functional plot and characters. I don’t care how outrageous your movie is, if you can’t get the basics of filmmaking right, I’m sorry, your movie is crap (i.e Transformers, etc).

Thankfully, perhaps surprisingly, that wasn’t a problem here. Characters behaved logically, there was great back and forth between the story of the fighting monsters and the humans trying to survive the carnage.

Perhaps best of all you can see what is going on. So many action movies in recent years zoom in so close to the action, as a way to fake excitement, that you can’t see what’s happening or where anything is. It’s just visual noise spewed at your eyeballs (again, Transformers).

Not only can you see what’s going on, there are actual long shots during battle scenes. That iconic shot of Godzilla rampaging through a city? Yeah, that. Love it.

What kept coming to mind as I watched this movie was the gleeful adoration the filmmakers had for the source material. What it seemed, to me, is that they wanted to have fun making a Godzilla movie. As an audience member, at least, that’s what I felt. Not “fun” as it’s used by crappy-movie apologists, but “fun” as in “Dude, we’re making a Godzilla movie! How cool is that! You should totally come watch!”

Dolby everything

Being at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, there was Dolby 3D and Dolby Atmos. I’ll be honest, Dolby 3D is my least favorite of the 3D flavors (well, besides active, which in a theater is asinine). The issue is, being bespectacled, light bounces off my glasses and the inside of the 3D glasses and I get weird reflections, sometimes looking at my own eyes. If I can manage to not get distracted by that, the 3D at the Dolby Theater is good, and the image on a whole is fantastic: Massive, and exceptionally bright.

Better, though, was Atmos. This movie uses sound as a weapon, and to great effect. From the beast’s iconic (and updated) roar, to the sounds of mass destruction smoothly spinning around the theater, it was an aural feast.

I can guarantee that this movie will be in every demo room at CES 2015, ensuring its ruin by repetition.

Bottom Line

Should you see Godzilla? That’s actually an easy question. If this seems like the type of movie you would like, I think you’d like it. I sure did. I keep coming back to that word “gleeful.” The audience (admittedly, many at the premiere had worked on the movie), cheered when Godzilla roared the first time, cheered when he started kicking ass, laughed at the funny bits, and in all seemed to have a brilliant time. Godzilla is fantastic fun, with none of the hidden pejorative that usually accompanies people saying something is “fun.”

I left the theater with a big smile on my face, and I’ll see it again. That’s saying a lot.

Goyoishere's picture

Thanks so much for the review. Most of the time with these types of movies I will see them for the special effects, and rarely expecting a good story. This action is usually followed by regret.
I have a lot of respect for your guys' opinions as you work in home theater and music as an occupation and it would be great if you posted more reviews of what you watch. Thanks again.

dnoonie's picture

"So many action movies in recent years zoom in so close to the action, as a way to fake excitement, that you can’t see what’s happening or where anything is."

I see your point, that style doesn't excite me, I thought they did that to cover for having lousy fight choreography (to save money) and to save money on the camera op. It's easy to have an intern shoot the footage instead of a pro. Excessive camera movement just makes me motion sick. Good handheld camera shooting works for me, constant shaky cam footage does not, some shaky cam footage is fine as long as it's motivated. I love good fight choreography and it's a shame it's going away in favor of the "intern shot this while wired on too much junk" shaky cam.

Geoffrey Morrison's picture
Sadly, that intern is actually Michael Bay (and Paul Greengrass, and on and on...)