With Godzilla vs Kong set to drop soon, we take a retrospective look at the divisive American reboot of Godzilla (2014).
It is worth noting that this is not the first American attempt at a Godzilla flick. The first being a 1956 re-do of Ishiro Honda’s 1954 classic, titled Godzilla: King of the Monsters. It contained bizarre inserts of Canadian actor Raymond Burr in scenes that didn’t originally feature him to appeal to Western audiences. And of course, there’s the 1998 Roland Emmerich disaster; the less said about that one, the better!
With Godzilla (2014), Legendary and Warner Bros hired independent British filmmaker Gareth Edwards, fresh off his debut film, 2010’s Monsters, to direct this new iteration of the iconic giant lizard. Edwards’ previous film showed his incredible efficiency with limited resources and his ability to represent a massive scale in a believable and fantastic way; something amazingly carried over to Godzilla.
This movie shines in many ways, namely with Bryan Cranston’s casting in a leading role, which is unfortunately cut short in the second act. The remaining cast does a great job with the admittedly cliche screenplay that boldly opts to not show its monster until almost an hour into the film. It’s not necessarily a new idea, with Jaws (1975) and Alien (1979) coming to mind. However, those films portion their creature out a bit better than this one does. There are times where the big guy’s absence in the movie is felt, mainly throughout the second act after his staggering and satisfying entrance in Hawaii. Instead, we’re left with some human characters that are just not as interesting as the film would like you to believe.
The third act is where the movie finally picks up. The large scale filmmaking, along with the excellent score by Alexandre Desplat, and the energetic and tense way the film is shot, gives the finale some real meat, which is very satisfying. In the end, the choice to hold off on the monster provides the ending with a sense of payoff that most modern blockbusters can not maintain.
Despite the want for more of the King of Monsters, the thin characters, and the poorly paced second act, Godzilla (2014) satisfies overall. Nearly seven years later, it still holds up as the best American adaptation of the giant lizard so far.
Gareth Edwards would later direct the first Star Wars spinoff, 2016’s Rogue One for Disney. In one scene in the film, some cave paintings depict the two M.U.T.O. monsters from his Godzilla film.