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Godzilla Fights Back

Tuesday 20 May 2014, 12:27

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

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The new Godzilla was predicted to be a huge flop but it has confounded it’s critics and a sequel has already been greenlit. What did you make of Gareth Edwards movie?

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Mark Kermode reviews Godzilla

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    saw it in 3d on friday - 6 people in the cinema

    it was ok - better than pacific rim - could have been better tho

    felt like a confused dodgy ending - would be interested in a directors cut

    i actually liked aaron taylor johnson - who seems to be getting a lot of stick for his performance

    roll on edge of tomorrow

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    Comment number 2.

    Having waited for over a year for this film, I went in excited but a bit apprehensive. I'm an acknowledged Godzilla franchise fanatic (excluding of course, the '98 steaming pile of dung) and the previews of this version promised a true return to the original Honda film, albeit with modern special effects.

    Watching this movie on IMAX 3D was incredible. As someone who despises CGI, frankly I forgot I was watching a movie and was blown away by much of the film's sequences, especially the final battle. There are some script issues that I felt kept the movie from being as dark as I had thought it might be, but this is Godzilla! In the end, I was happy and glad to have shelled out $16 to see this spectacle.

    Now as for sequels, I'll probably hold off on going to those.

    Oh, and yes, I did have to sit through the next Transformers trailer, which almost ruined the entire experience.

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    Comment number 3.

    I saw Godzilla in IMAX 3D on Sunday night. It was slightly ruined by a loud group of people in the seats behind us. Thankfully once the film got going, the volume of the IMAX sound system was enough to drown out the irritating group.

    The film didn't quite meet my expectation, however I still really enjoyed it. I'm sure I will appreciate it more on second viewing.

    When the film finished a female member of the irritatingly loud group, exclaimed "I'd take that over Jurassic Park any day"... hmmm, okay.

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    Comment number 4.

    Saw it in IMAX 3D last night. Presentation was great, big screen, except some kind of problem with my glasses meant that one of the lenses kept flickering sporadically throughout. Would have gotten them sorted, but would have missed around 20 minutes by the time I got a new pair.

    That experience aside, I really enjoy the film and admire the approach it took to the Godzilla story. Edwards went for something true to the original rather than a smash and crash nonsense spectacle.
    Looking forward to the sequel, especially if Edwards goes bring in Monster Island as I saw in one article.

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    Comment number 5.

    Though I was underwhelmed with the film, my opinion of it is still very much positive. I liked how they teased the battles because as we all know from the Transformers films, huge battle followed by huge battle numbs you after a while. Aaron Johnson, however, has all the personality of a plank of wood.

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    Comment number 6.

    Didn't like it at all. All the human bits were lame and i didn't care about anyone. Such a waste of acting talent, Elisabeth Olson, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn, Bryan Craston, Ken Wantanabe. Not one well developed character amongst them. There was very few, if any really tense scenes. Compared to say, Jurassic Park, this is a steaming pile of crap.

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    Comment number 7.

    Hello once again from the States, Good Doctor.

    I saw the film friday in IMAX 3D, and as I don't feel the film was perfect by any stretch; It was a pleasure to sit and watch a 'monster' movie with such spectacle. Gareth Edwards is a proven director with this film along with "Monsters" as someone with great imagination and appreciation for these creatures. I am positive about a sequel, as long as Edwards takes the helm and learns from his minor mistakes the first go around (Aaron Taylor-Johnson).

    P.S. In my IMAX screening, I got the wonderful surprise of seeing the first full trailer for Christopher Nolan's "Interstellar", and my jaw nearly hit the floor. My anticipation for this film is now full on. Wondering what your thoughts/first impressions of this trailer are.

    Thanks as always!

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    Comment number 8.

    I thoroughly enjoyed Godzilla, and so did my nine year old. Edwards seemed to be channeling the Spielberg who made Jaws and Close Encounters, and as far as the direction was concerned I give the film top marks. The human interest was less successful, but on a big screen with amazing sound I didn't care too much as the monsters really were the stars of the show. A sequel? Bring it on.

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    Comment number 9.

    There has been very few films that have took me back to the time when i was young and saw my 1st godzilla movie,godzilla vs mechagodzilla and this really succeeded in keeping me gripped throughout i saw it on IMAX on its opening day and i cme away from the film really excited & my partner who isnt a godzilla fan loved it as well,theres some incredible scenes of beauty with in the film and at times my jaw was dropping with the spectacle of seeing godzilla,if your not a godzilla fan or the only Godzilla film you have seen is the emmerich travesty,then this may suprise s its been well crafted and made with reverence,i liked it all and there was enough to keep it working and the score and the sound was incredible,i love Del Toros films but this Godzilla leaves Pacific rim floundering,that was all too metal and had little heart to it,where this had it all for me.
    and last of all Godzillas not fat.

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    Comment number 10.

    As a life long fan of Godzilla (clearly) my review is mixed. The great monster battles are executed wonderfully, even eliciting a few rounds of applause on the night I saw it, however the human element is far less stellar. A terrific cast was wasted so that Taylor Aaron Johnson could be ushered center-stage and shoehorned into plot scenarios that wouldn't require his character at all.

    I can believe in monsters leveling a city but there is no excuse for a plot that requires heavy contrivances to make it's protagonist relevant.

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    Comment number 11.

    Saw it at So'ton IMAX 3D Monday night. I walked out with a big silly grin on my face, and made stupid giant monster noises all the way on the drive home (I only stopped so as not to freak out the dogs or get that I'm indulging you look from my wife). Friends word of mouth very mixed including a very enthusiastic thumbs up from a mum with children and a sarcy claim that Emmerich's was no longer the worst Gozilla. So, had slightly lowered expectations. Not a full on aficionado of the series (but did spot the Mothra joke). Liked GE's Monsters as a minor gem. Also, one of the few supporters of Pacific Rim.

    I liked it a lot. I thought it had the right amount of monster tease and reveal, and a really solid Muto a Muto battle. Starting to think the friend who stupidly rated Emmerich's trainwreck was doing so for a joke, because that's an absolutely mystifying stance to take. I think its main weakness was sidelining the older characters for the second half (maybe that's because the younger family was too generic, or as a 50 year old, I identify more readily with more fully formed characters / good actors). [Fully expect the opening act to be redone by The Simpsons, I wonder if Binoche will voice Marge? Doesn't Sally Hawkins here already look like a Simpson's character?] I'd look forward to a Destroy All Monsters style sequel, provided it excluded the JJBinks of the Godzilla universe.

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    Comment number 12.

    I saw it in 2D, didn't see the point in paying even more money to see it in 3D.
    After the release of the early trailers I quickly became excited for the film, and then nearer release I made sure to avoid trailers and certain reviews because I wanted to go in knowing as little as possible. Unfortunately the existence of other monsters was spoiled ages ago, thankfully I was unaware of what they were or what their involvement was.

    I still went in with reservations as I really didn't know how they were going to portray Godzilla. But I was pleasantly surprised by the sympathetic depiction of Godzilla as well as the recognition of the original iteration of the creature, mostly the atomic breath. In addition Godzilla's roar in this film is potentially the best yet.

    I thought the films 2 hour length was divided appropriately with enough time given to the supporting human characters and plenty of scenes showing Godzilla but, importantly, without showing too much of him.

    Very much looking forward to seeing how a sequel will turn out, hopefully they won't rush it so as to cash in on the hype.

    Although this will likely discredit everything I have said, I am one of the few people who actually enjoyed the 1998 version of Godzilla.

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    Comment number 13.

    I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I enjoyed it. A Lot. Most of all, I was just delighted to see G in a ‘serious’ film after so very, very long. As some are saying, it could have been more ‘Hollywood’ in execution… but would that actually have been a good thing? Would that approach have surprised cynical audiences and renewed interest in a series that Toho themselves brought to an end ten years ago? I think not, and the fact that we’re getting a sequel is testament to this.
    I’ve seen the new movie twice now, the second time at a really nice Brighton (UK) 3D screen with LOUD! sound, and the whole experience just popped off the screen and dragged the audience into the unfolding events. It’s extremely rare to see a film where, for two hours, your brain is fooled into feeling that you’re actually ‘in’ it, somehow, and that owes less to the 3D than the ‘realistic’ approach taken here. Sure, as an old-time daikaiju fan, I would have enjoyed a little more Godzilla screen-time, but… let’s be realistic here:
    Directing a Godzilla movie is a dream project, and I’d imagine several people out there would probably kill for the privilege of directing one, but before the critics sharpen the knives too much, let’s not forget that this whole project was probably one hell of a risk for Legendary, not to mention Toho, who let The Ledge re-adopt their baby after it had been so badly mishandled by they-who-shall-remain-nameless back in 1998. One can only imagine the nervousness of the accounts guy who wrote the cheque on the day the budget was approved. When I heard that a new G-movie was being planned, I thought back to the many Toho personnel I helped interview for the BBC 1998 Godzilla documentary, where everyone quietly lamented (off-camera, because it was diplomatic) that the ‘Deanzilla’ was a wasted opportunity to reboot the character they loved so much.
    Getting a director in who actually GETS this genre, and on the levels that don’t just pay tribute to what came before, but also visualises beyond it, was a risky but sane and sensible move, and we can thank Legendary for taking a chance on a non-Hollywood director and giving him the tools to just, well, get on and make it. It’s a risk that seems to have paid off well, if the last week’s takings are anything to go by.
    No movie is perfect; “Godzilla” has its issues, and I’m sure G.E. would be the first to agree. But: he’s successfully rebooted and refreshed a genre that was seen as a poison chalice in western movie-making circles for decades, and for that, I think we can all be rather thankful. I’ve wanted to see a ‘real’ Godzilla for, well, a LONG time; an epic, dark story that’s a little scary as well as having an “oh, wow!” factor (I direct the Jury to certain ‘hot’ shots at the climax of the film!). Sure, there’s quibbles, but for me, that’s all they are, really - quibbles. I’m going to sit back and enjoy what’s to come in the future, especially as Gareth and co. will be feeling a whole lot more confident now in their approach and style. I have a feeling the future's going to be just fine.
    Will we get “Godzilla 2: Destroy All Monsters” or that much-mooted “Pacific Rim” crossover? I don’t mind, although I’d love to see those two franchises mash it up a few years down the line, once the worldwide audience for this kind of movie has been safely re-established. Me, I’m just going to sit back and enjoy the ride with the same kind of grin on my face I had when first seeing “King Kong v Godzilla” in 1973 at age 6; G.E. did what many industry-types said was impossible, and has made a film that looks and feels like the memories - and I stress, memories - I have of that film and it’s epic-ness (okay, so it didn’t match up to how I remembered it when I saw it again in my 20’s, but… that’s my point: Gareth has made a movie about the Godzilla we all have deep in our childhood memories…). Cheers, chap; Nuneaton Man doth rule.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Well I thought Godzilla was portrayed very well in it but the rest of the film was a mess, I found it odd the trailers portrayed it as a Gorjia remake when in fact its just like a standard Godzilla movie.

    The characters were one note and completely useless to the story, for instance what was the point of Ken Watanabe he kept one monster alive for 15 years, thought one was dead and sent it to the middle of America, then his ultimate plan is to let the monsters fight it out!? I would throw him off my ship for being a waste of Oxygen.

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    Comment number 15.

    I thought it was great. But it only truly hit me how great about a day after I had time to mull it over. I've been thinking about it a lot over the last couple of days. My initial feeling of it being to plodding has turned to admiration that Edwards had the nerve to take his time and build to the final climatic showdown. In an age where people demand instant action, almost from the get go, it was nice to see a director resisting the urge to try to crowd please from the start, with over used CGI and massive explosions. A thoughtful, evenly paced blockbuster for a change.

    Which made the last 30 mins or so all the more spectacular. The effects were intelligently done and the action itself was riveting. The halo jump was a particular highlight, and a lovely touch of class by Edwards. Both dark, brooding and stylish, the sequence bought home just how accomplished this guy is already.

    Yes, the story was a bit broad strokes as were the human characters. Why ATJ was cast is beyond me; the boy cannot emote. Cranston was...Cranstonish and bit too underused for my liking, as he bought real gravitas and pathos to proceedings. Ken was doing his pained, faraway acting thing he does and does rather well. The monsters themselves were excellent and I loved the fact Edwards gave them the character he did. They are the stars of the show after all.

    Other than that and some other minor niggles, a resounding thumbs up from me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    I enjoyed Godzilla generally but only whilst my brain was turned off. Unfortunately my brain kept trying to engage leaving me some general ponderings such as -

    When Ford and his father are initially in the flat in Japan who put the kettle on? Joe appears it turn it off (or at least the whistling stops) but who turned it on?

    Why do the US navy turn up to deal with an incident in Japan?

    Why do the Navy follow Godzilla for miles across the ocean quite peacefully and then shoot at him the moment he is upright?

    Why doesn't Godzilla do the thing he eventually does earlier? (trying to avoid spoilers)

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Saw it Friday night and loved it - a film that honoured the original Godzilla whilst also being a western version. A definite improvement on the Emmerick version. Better still the film looked amazing and the sense of scale is so many shots was brilliant, as was the composition (the HALO drop sequence just looked fantastic).

    Saw it in 2D - but have decided to see it again, and have booked the IMAX this time.

    Very excited about a sequel as long as they keep Edwards at the helm.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    I saw the film in both 2D and 3D - the 3D made no difference at all, I probably could have watched it without my glasses as I never got the sense that anything was in 3D, certainly a very poor conversion.

    What did make a difference was the sound, on a big screen and with great sound, the film is great, but, much like Jackson's King Kong, is more of an experience than a journey, and even then, only when Godzilla's around. The worst part of the film is the Human characters and the very lazy script and direction, Gareth Edwards was my biggest hope for this reboot and has turned out to be my biggest disappointment. It's as if he's tried to make the film such a Hollywood film, that he forgot what made him and his work special in the first place.

    I still like Godzilla, but I know that it's got some major issues that it really should not have. My biggest objection to it though, is that I didn't get the film that they advertised. My impression from the trailers was that it was a dark, serious take on Godzilla's awakening and the punishment of mankind through their desire to control nature, and he was natures retribution. What I got was a kids film (with some dark and beautiful scenes) that took itself too seriously, and was more about Godzilla Vs. Muto's and Humans were an afterthought. I think this film has a lot less to do with 1954's Godzilla, and much more to do with the Godzilla sequels where he battled the likes of MechaGodzilla, Mothra and Rodan, etc. And the music worked, right up until the last 5-10 minutes, where it really got slapstick silly! And it was full of the dumbest movie cliche's, the way some scenes played out were some of the most amateur I have seen in the cinema, and it's all a bit too silly that the only man who really has a clue what's going on and who is fighting for the truth, happens to have a son, who is the only many man (in the entire US by the looks of it) who is able to disable bombs, and who happens to be in the right place at the right time so often!

    I wonder if part of the problem is that the wonderful thing about the Japanese Godzilla films, was that they were men in suits, there was a charm to them, much like there was charm to the original King Kong and even the Jeff Bridges King Kong, that the remake lacked. When I hear people say about how they didn't get much of a sense of Godzilla in the film, I don't think it's because of his screen time, I think it's because of his personality. In the original (and best) you got a sense of him as a creature, and even in the various sequels, but it was lacking here.

    Although I found myself trying to convince myself that I was enjoying the movie while I was watching it, and I do truly like it, but boy was it disappointing!

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    I saw Godzilla last night in 2D. Overall I thought it was ok, I thought the slow build up to the final reveal didn't work, the story wasn't strong enough to keep me interested. Aaron Taylor Johnson looked like he had just wondered on to the set and didn't know where he was, he was poor. The other creatures design wasn't very original, I felt like I had seen them before, Cloverfield, The Mist. When the big man eventually did turn up I thought he looked and sounded great. I thought the CGI and the battles with the other monsters were great and there was a lot of good touches in there as well like Zilla getting his head down after the big fight for a kip, just like a dog. I was pleased they stuck to the original format. It could have been better and it could have been a lot worse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Also, check out this BBC documentary on Godzilla from the late 90's I assume, with interviews with cast, crew, fans and filmmakers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7Hba9AjMyg


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Outspoken, opinionated and never lost for words, Mark is the UK's leading film critic.

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