‘Godzilla’ Review : manages to strike an accurate balance of the serious and silly


Short version:
‘’Godzilla‘’ stars Elizabeth Olsen…
Brilliant. Beautiful. Bodacious. Bazinga.
Heavy applause!
Go home. Have a wet dream. Nothing more to read here.

Long version:
Cinema’s longest, scaliest and most perturbing lizard is back on screen – and this time without the ‘starring Ron Jeremy’ title playing atop of the content.

When indie wunderkind Gareth Edwards (‘’Monster”) was hired to breathe new life into one of film’s most famous brands, one almost imagines the brief to have included but three words: Make it Big. From the unruly monster (and his friends!) to the epic, country and time-spanning story, all those based buildings, penetrated planes, splintered submarines, and demolished bridges, there’s nothing Stuart Little on display here at all. Fat Snowball all the way. There’s millions on screen, and you’ll be happy to see fat cat’s tax money be tossed away – after all, there’s no such thing as wasted money when it comes to seeing gigantic lizards hurling jets into the sea.

From its pulsating prologue, immense middle chapters, and large-scale final act, the proficiently-constructed audience pleaser seems intent on utilizing every frame of its digital file.

“Godzilla” is a bit of a pop-up picture book – there’s words on the page but the pictures are all the prettier; tissues would be wasted on a scholar, but Roland Emmerich’s seat will be left uncomfortably sticky for the next patron.

Like most fuck-that-cost-a-lot-to-make movies, “Godzilla” is a little goofy in its execution, and some scenes will invite cheeky smirks, but that’s almost expected in a movie that’s premise is built on BS buggery – in this case, we’ve a live-action biopic on Barney the Dinosaur.

Granted, the eye-rolling doesn’t really set in until a good hour-or-so into the picture, when the spiky sucker lands on American soil – where he encounters two fellow monsters, and bumbles his way through a barrage of real estate. It’s then, when Godzilla arrives in Hawaii, that the movie takes on somewhat of an Irwin Allen-style disaster movie vibe.

One might say the film plays like both a wet telegram to the classic Japanese ‘’Godzilla’’ movies of yesteryear, but also the race-against-time, visual-effects heavy Matthew Broderick version of “Godzilla” (1998). It’s a more enjoyable movie than it – even without the ‘Matt from Melrose Place’ cameo – and it’s definitely a more accomplished film, but Edwards seems happy to acknowledge anything and everything the legendary monster has encountered in its time on the screen – good and bad. Could explain the merging of tones.

Never is any element of the film that poor that it completely revokes spokes of an otherwise well-oiled bike, though. And never does the computer take precedence over the fantastical entertainment value of the film – a’la *cough* “Man of Steel” *cough*.

The dialogue in those last-half scenes is noticeably hokey – as if Edwards has been taking to the crack pipe with the ghost of Leslie Nielsen on his tea break. David Strathairn, as a Navy commander, fares the worst, with most of the laughable lines pushed his way. Sally Hawkins, as a young scientist, attempts to deliver her daggy lines as straight as possible – but you can almost spot the emerging smile on her face. Ken Watanabe, playing her older colleague, relies on facial expressions more than spoken word, so he gets off a little better.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson (“Kick-Ass”), as ‘likely’ hero (likely because he’s in the military, is built like a brick dunny, and has that ‘I got work to do, but when I get home, I want a steak – well done’ look) Ford Brody, has a fairly thankless task, but he’s quite engaging anyway. I believed he could defeat monsters of the deep while porting nuclear warheads to safe terrain. The guys that can do that are easy to pick. I’m pretty confident he’s capable – after all, he has dog-tags. The part plays like somewhat of a showreel for him as an action-movie star, so expect to see him in similar fare in the future.

Elizabeth Olsen, playing his wife, has little to do but cry down the other end of a telephone line, but she’s absolutely gorgeous – she could have delivered her lines in Swedish from inside a box of Styrofoam and I’d give her a pass.

Bryan Cranston, always good, is believable in his part of the ‘man who knew all along’ –but, as is usually the case with him, the big screen still doesn’t seem quite sure how to utilize the TV great to his full potential.

The star of the show though? Godzilla. Looks a little like a hot prop from “A Sound of Thunder” but still, the combination of sound, shadow and rumbling waves that play the part of his entourage help to convince audiences of his awesomeness. His character arc plays a little wonky here – you’ll see what I mean – but what’s that matter when you can swim underneath a massive Naval ship without coming up for breath? Dude would totally win school swimming day.

For the most part, Edwards, and in his first major studio flick, manages to strike an accurate balance of the serious and silly, deterring the film from turning into a military-flight version of ‘’Sesame Street Presents Follow That Bird.’’ There’s a big difference between playing up the fantasy and going full Ernie & Bert, and Edwards seems to realize that – not once did I spot wacky, wide-eyed Hank Azaria, video camera resting on his shoulder, busting around a street corner to catch some footage of the giant lizard.

While the entertainment value of last year’s monster-annual movie ‘’’Pacific Rim’’ cut in-and-out like a boondocks service provider, ‘’Godzilla’’ is much more a monster movie with a dial-tone.
So, you picked a good day to take another day off, Ferris Bueller.

A full-bladdered blockbuster (take a trip to the loo before you sit down to watch the lengthy beast) that’s only injustice is not including a Puff Daddy track over its end credits, ‘’Godzilla’’ will undoubtedly make more of an impact than expected.