As students across the country dove into their textbooks to prepare for spring finals, the rest of the world made the trip to their local movie theaters to welcome the king of monsters, Godzilla, back to the silver screen in the movie of the same name. The remake of the remake of the remake (going all the way back to the 1950’s) of the original film toppled box offices this past weekend, earning around $93 million domestically and over $196 million worldwide. This gave Godzilla one of the biggest opening weekends this year for a film, second only so far to Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Some factors to thank for this incredible opening weekend were the clever yet aggressive marketing campaign funded by Warner Bros. that portrayed the movie as a disaster flick rather than a monster movie, the generally decent ratings the movie has received (such as 73% on Rotten Tomatoes and A- on CinemaScore), and the popular trend of seeing the King of Monsters at theaters with IMAX screens, which have tickets substantially more expensive than standard tickets. Despite all of Godzilla’s commercial success, however, the movie was met by critics with mixed reviews; some, for example, thought that Godzilla had become a supporting character and didn’t have enough screen time. So was this reboot of a reboot worth the money and time, or was the movie a massive flop? Godzilla includes an incredible cast of critically acclaimed actors, from Oscar-nominated actors Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, and David Strathairn to Oscar-winning actress Juliette Binoche and Emmy-winning “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston — though the writers did not unleash Cranston’s full potential in the movie. Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins play two scientists called for help by the government after discovering large underground pods in the Philippines. They occasionally help to advance the plot with some scientific theories, but only stand around for most of the movie, mouth agape, watching the military fight the monsters. In addition, Bryan Cranston and Juliette Binoche’s characters, who are arguably the best in the movie, are only present in the first few scenes, leaving the movie to be carried on the shoulders of “Kick Ass” star Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Johnson performed fairly well as the main character (Read: Don’t expect any Oscar nods), yet some critics complained that the writers had left two much acting responsibility on the shoulders of a beefcake actor who should have shared the load with the great actors who left the movie too early. Yes, Johnson’s acting and chemistry with other actors was lacking, and yes, we all wanted to see more Walter White vs. Godzilla action, but what were we to expect? Godzilla was meant to show destruction, chaos, and to prove how easily cities could be toppled by CGI monsters. Movie goers didn’t go to see Godzilla to watch great actors portray the flaws of human nature; they went to see how flawed and unprepared our society is in the event of our cities being attacked by giant monsters, which is an issue that should be brought up in the next presidential election. This movie delivered the monster-on-monster action that fans were looking for. Outcries from critics and fans alike complained that the movie’s new Massively Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms (MUTOs) stole the limelight from Godzilla. Godzilla is first seen a good forty-five minutes after the movie starts, while the first MUTO is seen destroying boats, cities, and airports. Later on in the film, a second MUTO appears, leaving Godzilla outnumbered and out-screen timed as this monster rages across the Nevada desert, crushing a good part of the Las Vegas Strip, heading towards the San Francisco Bay area. The three monsters converge on the Bay area — contrary to the government’s efforts to minimize damage — and pretty much destroy everything in their wake. The Golden Gate Bridge collapses, at least half the San Francisco skyline is obliterated, and the three monsters battle it out to the death. There will be no spoilers here as to who won this battle, but for some reason Godzilla can emit blue fire/laser/lava out of his mouth, so that gives a good idea of which monster won. Needless to say, the movie did have a slow build up, and Godzilla may have needed some more action time, but the final battle was extremely satisfying. The CGI was incredible, and for one of the first times in cinematic history, Godzilla actually looked like he wasn’t Claymation. The acting is not the movie’s strength, but who cares? The audience expected action and they got action. Godzilla, king of monsters, reigns once again.
Critic Grade: A-