07 September 2014

"Godzilla" Review

Gareth Edwards' "Godzilla" reboot teeters on the brink of being unsure what type of film it wants to be; the initial appeal of "Godzilla" might be watching its titular character fighting nuclear monstrosities, but the new screenplay written by Max Borenstein instead shifts the focus away from Godzilla and instead onto the humans. There's an attempt to use juxtaposition to compare how miniscule humans are to the gigantic beasts that dominate the screen but instead "Godzilla" constantly finds itself stumbling over a clumsy narrative. Initially there's a message about the side-effects of nuclear experimentation, and the horrors that it brings, but it's quickly swept aside.

The problem here is that the bulk of Godzilla's narrative is spent on following its characters run from point A to B. "Godzilla" hardly spends any amount of time on its monsters, and while there isn't anything inherently wrong with that, its main appeal still remains lackluster due to its execution. What's even more baffling is that the second-half of the script follows a military operation in order to stop the destruction, and when Dr. Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) offers a theory on why Godzilla shouldn't be stopped, he is ignored. This comes right after the head of the operation stating that he'd avoid the use of nuclear warheads against the monsters if there is an alternative option. It's a plot-hole that happens in the span 3 minutes that could perhaps be easily forgiven if it weren't the fact that it drives the second-half of the film. While there (arguably) needs to be some form of action or drama for the film to progress and keep the audience engaged, it isn't an excuse to have inconsistent writing.
"Godzilla" begins with two different narratives following a secret nuclear war test before a time-skip showcasing an archaeological dig that uncovers a colossal skeleton. The camera slowly moves throughout deeper parts of the cave before coming out the backend and it is here where "Godzilla" is most impressive. Working alongside Edwards is cinematographer Seamus McGarvey. Together, the two are able to impressively capture the destructive capabilities that these creatures leave in their wake. Later on in the film, however, there is a severe lack of color. The urban destruction is painted as a muted, dull brown, and the ruined buildings begin to meld into one another. While it's not hard to tell what's going on, the dullness does begin to set in as the scenes become drab. Last year's own Kaiju film, "Pacific Rim" proved destruction and a bright, color composition are able to work hand-in-hand.

While "Godzilla" attempts to tell a more personal story rather than an action-oriented one, it fails due to following one-dimensional characters in a bumbling narrative. There's no reason to care for the underdeveloped characters here aside from the fact that they're given the most screen-time.