Published Oct 07, 2014Perhaps it shouldn't be all that surprising when much of the talk from the cast and crew in the supplemental materials describe the special effects in Godzilla as "state-of-the-art" or "cutting-edge" that the movie itself should end up rather soulless. For all its eye-popping visuals of the giant lizard laying waste to everything in his path, it's hard to not look at it as one big hollow spectacle of technological innovation.
Despite the comparisons to Jaws it may strive for in withholding the titular behemoth until roughly the halfway mark, the characters are so thin and perfunctory that you wish Godzilla would show up a lot sooner. Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) works at a nuclear power plant in Japan with his wife (Juliette Binoche), until a mysterious disaster one day claims her life.
Years later, Joe is still immersed in what the powers-that-be are trying to cover up about what happened that day, poring over data related to strange vibrations that are now happening again. When his military son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) leaves behind his wife (Elizabeth Olsen) and child to bail Joe out of a trespassing charge, the two find themselves going right back into the restricted zone just as a giant creature bursts from the plant.
The MUTO (or Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) is soon joined by another of its kind, and Godzilla eventually emerges to do battle with them and restore some kind of order to nature. As the action shifts from Japan to San Francisco to Hawaii to Las Vegas, Ford becomes the Forrest Gump of monster attacks — somehow, he's seemingly always in the thick of things.
On one hand, if the desired effect was to create a realistic sense of what it would look like if Godzilla and other radioactive creatures actually existed to wreak havoc, then the blockbuster is a resounding success. The trouble is that a movie needs to be more than just a series of places getting smashed to pieces, and it's in the important details like plot and character where this one's sorely lacking.
There are quite a few short featurettes packaged with the release, including three that play as news-reels or briefings, alerting the public to the insane events that happen in the film or detailing the shady practices of the Monarch project formed to study Godzilla. The others delve into the film's production, with the usual unspectacular mix of talking heads praising each other, though it's interesting to learn that director Gareth Edwards first conceived of the parachuting sequence that formed the film's memorable trailer before even getting the job.