A couple of days ago I saw Godzilla (2014) and I have never laughed so much of a movie in years. I didn’t laugh at it though, I felt I laughed with it. Later other reviewers online has complained about the movie and I feel the need to defend this movie as a thoroughly good dumb movie.
Godzilla franchise is not that great
I have seen the first american Godzilla movie and I have forced myself trough Mothra vs. Godzilla on Netflix (not to get confused with the 1991 movie Godzilla vs. Mothra) after watching the new american one to get a clearer idea of what fans of this franchise seem to like. That though, is still a mystery to me.
Let me trow out a provocative opinion right away: I don’t like the japanese Godzilla movies that I have seen. I find the Japanese movies childish and stupid without being entertaining. I tried to watch the first one, but had to quit. I think I saw Godzilla: Final Wars but I cant remember if I watch it all the way or not. Most likely cuz I found it boring.
Another provocative opinion I have to state is that I have enjoyed BOTH of the American ones.Yes even the one from 1998. They had a pacing I like to call “american pacing” (before the Micheal Bay/ family guy ara of movies) that worked far better than the Japanese ones. Also the effects was far better in the US movies, which matter to me when it comes to giant monster movies. I find the plot/ idea of giant monsters hard to believe, so they better make the visuals believable for me to get invested.
All in all I don’t understand the appeals of the Japanese ones. Its just rubber costumes over train-set scenery with lots of strange dialog and “padding” scenes that make no sense. I don´t find them appealing in a campy way and not in any other way either.
I get that many of the Godzilla movies are old, and has to be seen from the time they were made, but all the other stuff is not that great either. I love Jaws (1975) even though the shark looks bad. I love The Exorcist (1973) even thought the “head turning” scene looks stupid and puppet like. Point being: I can watch movies with less than great effects, but there has to be something else to them then. Something thought provoking, stimulating or entertaining about the movie beyond the effects. I do not see that in any of the Japanese Godzilla movies I have seen.
Why I liked the new Godzilla movie (2014).
Going into the cinema to watch this movie I had no idea what the movie was about other than what I already knew about the franchise. I expected a dumb monster movie with destruction, and that was what I got, and it worked.
When the end credits came I started to laugh so tears came out of my eyes cuz of the absurdity of it all. I was actually, at an adult age, thoroughly invested in the story. Even though I knew it was dumb as hell.
I am now going into details of the movie. There will be spoilers from now on.
As I have already written. I did not know anything about the movie and my first big suprise was that it was not “just” a Godzilla movie. I thought it would be like the first american Godzilla movie which was “Godzilla vs the World” type plot where Godzilla is a destructive monster and humans have to try to stop him. This movie was not like that.
The first monster we see is not, to my surprise, Godzilla, but some other giant monster. The plot then turned out not to be “Godzilla vs the World” but about Godzilla fighting other giant monsters. An absurd idea that I have known other Godzilla movies from Japan has been about but I have never understood why giant monster battles could be appealing. That is until now.
The reason I enjoyed this movie was that the movie gave what it promised, without being offensively dumb and had good special effects used creatively to show the absurd size and magnitude of the monsters. I may have turned of my brain while watching but there were no scenes in this movie I felt was contradictory to the events. No character reacting strange to a situation and no plan sat into action that I couldn’t understand the reason why.
Also, as an extra plus, it didn’t have a “man is evil” and “pollution is bad” preachy moral that I also sort of expected from this movie franchise.
Other peoples criticism of the Godzilla movie (2014) and why I disagree
So I have seen some comments online about why this movie “sucks”. Angry Joe made a long rant about the movie and Dough Walker of Channel Awesome also seemed to complain a lot about this movie. The complaints seem to be the same and I will mention them now and also comment on why I disagree with it.
1) Too little Godzilla
I guess it is a fine argument that we didn’t see enough Godzilla in this Godzilla movie. Some people like things over the top and others don’t. I don’t shake my head in disgust if someone like Micheal Bay´s Transformers movies. They are what they are, and I don’t like them, but that is a question of taste. But what annoys me is if people complain about all of the bad Micheal Bay type “over the top”, no plot all action type movies when they are given that and then turn 180 and say that this movie didn’t go all out like it should.
Angry Joe seemed to be pissed off that there wasn’t enough Godzilla in this movie. I think that he is being consequential then, since he defended the Man of Steel movie (a movie I hated for being mind numbingly bad). But Dough Walker did the same complaining and he has ranted on about how bad Man of Steel was and how little he respects Michel Bay.
We cant have it both ways. If you, like me, like substance over action, meaning over visual effects, then we can not complain that this movie tried to balance action with consequence. Less is more and when I left that theater I wanted more. That is what I define as a success.
2) Too much humans
I have no need to watch 2 hours of destruction. This movie had just the right amount of destruction and Godzilla, with a bit of heart and humanity spread across to make the movie less dumb.
To complain about the death of a character in this movie seems to be like complaining about the death of Janet Leigh in Psycho (1960) (not comparing them by quality here) . It was suppose to be like that. We felt a screen presence and than we felt a screen loss. Don´t get angry about it, just accept that it was his good acting that made you feel his loss when he went away.
As for the army boy character, his wife and his son. It was okay. I felt that army boy was an army boy. When I was in the army there wasn’t a lot of crying and screaming there. A good solider tries to be constrained even in effed up situations. The wife was a woman running around trying not to get killed. She succeeded, even without the help of her army boy lover, so feminist should be pleased. The son was a child who we root for cuz he is a child and we dont want children to die (if we aren’t effed up in the head). They did what they did and it worked fine.
More Godzilla would be worse for this movie.
3) Plot that didn´t make sense
It was a movie about giant monsters fighting in cities. I think with that premis that the movie made plenty sense.
Without being too sure I think that the scenes where Godzilla is probably 10 times as awesome as any of the 100 japanese ones. The destruction seemed real and it was intense.