Spawning nearly 30 movies in 60 years, “Godzilla” has built worldwide name recognition while wreaking havoc upon Japanese cities. Along this historic path of terror, the franchise has gathered new generations of monster fans. A product created by Japan following Hiroshima and Nagasaki, “Godzilla” drew the world’s attention to the delicate balance between nuclear weapons and humanity. In this 2014 sexagenarian anniversary year of the “King of Monsters”, the newest saga should have celebrated and highlighted Godzilla for all to see. Instead, this remake relegates our favorite creature from a big-screen movie icon to a mere movie extra.
“Godzilla” started with such intrigue and potential. “Breaking Bad” TV star Bryan Cranston perfectly set the tone for the film’s first hour. In an almost continuation of his television’s alter ego Walter White, Cranston defies authority using facts, figures and science—all to make his case that Japan’s best course would be to tread lightly. Director Gareth Edwards does an admirable job giving viewers some background on “Godzilla” and Japan’s historical connection with the monster. Unfortunately, just as we begin to feel some sense of suspense and look to connect with the cast, all is lost. Moviegoers are left with subpar characters and hardly any identification with the monster.
The biggest mistake in this movie is keeping the title’s namesake hidden and overshadowed. “Godzilla” is the most liked character in the film, yet he’s cast in the smallest role. Compounding this error, Edwards fails to get viewers invested in any other cast member. Minus Cranston, the movie lacks star power and brains.
Little known British actor, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, attempts to play the military hero charged with doing what the entire U.S. military arsenal can’t—stop the damage and rising death toll in American cities. Olsen twins’ sibling, Elizabeth Olsen, garners neither excitement nor passion in her role as Taylor-Johnson’s military wife. Cranston’s Japanese counterpart, Dr. Ishiro Seriwaza, is often left standing and wondering what to do next, another character mishandled and an opportunity bungled.
This movie showed so much promise, particularly early on with Bryan Cranston’s role as instigator and naysayer. Ultimately, “Godzilla” lacks character development. The fatal mistake is minimizing the screen time for its two biggest stars: Godzilla and Cranston. The film does include amazing computer-generated imagery (CGI), updating the 1954 Godzilla version into a more believable and breathing reptile. Viewer response to this movie will likely follow the audience demographics. Younger generations will feel satisfied that “Godzilla” provided terror and destruction. Older viewers, with an appreciation for this story’s 60-year run, will feel let down, knowing this modern-looking monster could have offered us so much more.