Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB. USA/Japan, 2014. Warner Bros., Legendary Entertainment, Disruption Entertainment, Dune Entertainment, Toho Company. Story by David Callaham, Screenplay by Max Borenstein. Cinematography by Seamus McGarvey. Produced by Jon Jashni, Mary Parent, Brian Rogers, Thomas Tull. Music by Alexandre Desplat. Production Design by Owen Paterson. Costume Design by Sharen Davis. Film Editing by Bob Ducsay.
With the disappointment of the easily fun but canonically unfaithful Roland Emmerich adaptation of 1998 well behind it, the monster from beneath the sea has returned to Pacific shores looking like his old self again, ready to terrify thousands of screaming extras and destroy entire cities in the name of saving them. Unfortunately, you have to wait for a painfully dry backstory to get itself over with before the appearance of either Godzilla or his enormous, radiation-eating nemeses, which is how this bombastically dull adventure begins. A scientist couple (Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche) are raising their son in Japan in the late nineties before an accident at a nuclear power plant changes their lives forever. More than a decade later, the son (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is a grown-up military man with his own little family (with wife Elizabeth Olsen) and must travel back to the land of the rising sun when his father (who after fifteen years is still wearing the same toupee) gets himself into trouble with the law. It seems the old man and his overwrought acting tics are determined to find the truth about what really happened in the destruction of his workplace, which may not have been human error or a shaky hold on safety conditions (cause humans do nothing wrong) but could be tied to the investigations of another pair of spelunkers (Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins) who have been finding giant ribcages and goo in caves. The ridiculously melodramatic buildup and unintelligent complications that occur before two monsters battle it out over skyscrapers is an ill-advised attempt to recreate the wonder of Jurassic Park. None of the humans are worth caring about, and by the time we get to Godzilla battling the giant MUTOs, the plotting is so shoddy that the superb visual effects are lost in as much narrative brown rain as the images are. It’s the kind of movie you should be able to relax and just have fun watching, but the self-important lack of fun with which it is presented makes this impossible.