Godzilla - A solid return of my childhood hero
I have grown up with the classic Japanese Godzilla movies that I first discovered when I was around eight or nine years old. I liked so many things about these movies: the looks of the monsters, the epic battle scenes, the different technical gimmicks, the detailed and handmade special effects, the emotional soundtracks, the diversified side stories and many references to Japanese culture. When I saw the first American "Godzilla" adaption as a child, I was rather disappointed and thought of it as a missed attempt at putting a "Jurassic Park" monster in a metropolis. As a child, I was then asking my parents to find the first original Godzilla movie that I had heard and read about and when my father finally came home with a videotape of it, I preferred this dark, diversified, philosophical movie that explored at least four genres at the same time (being a detailed action movie, a philosophical drama, a bleak horror movie and an innovating science-fiction film) to any movie I had ever seen before. Until today, the original movie from 1954 is one of my all-time favourite films and a classic any cineaste must see.
Until today, I have watched almost all Godzilla movies and while I adore most of them (my favourites being "Godzilla" (1954), "Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster" (1964), "Invasion of Astro-Monster" (1965), "Godzilla versus Mechagodzilla" (1974), "The Return Of Godzilla" (1984), "Godzilla versus King Ghidorah" (1991) and "Godzilla versus Destoroyah" (1995) among others), I thought it was a good idea to end the series with the fiftieth anniversary and a last epic movie called "Godzilla: Final Wars" back in 2004 because the franchise started to run out of ideas. Ten years later, the world's most famous Kaiju is back. As a longtime fan I was excited that my childhood hero was back on screen but on the other side I felt that everything had been said about Godzilla and that the first American movie was of a low average quality at best.
While the new movie is nothing revolutionary and not a far call from many classic Japanese movies without reaching the perfection of the unbeatable original, the new film is much better than the first American Godzilla movie.
I liked the slow start of the movie including a scientific story that is slightly inspired by the original but also by current events as the nuclear disaster in Fukushima. The strongest acting parts of the movie can be seen in the first thirty minutes or so and immediately get you into the story. The idea of two new monsters that would compete with Godzilla took me a little bit by surprise and really goes back to the Japanese classics which is a positive fact for a longtime fan. The final battle scenes in San Francisco are entertaining and visually stunning. Most importantly, the looks of Godzilla are great and feature all trademarks fans like about him from his atomic breath to his unique roars. The king of monsters looks a little bit bigger and heavier than the original but I think it looks extremely beautiful. Maybe Godzilla almost looks too sympathetic which is reminding me of the movies of the sixties and seventies rather than the original film or the last Japanese films. In comparison to the last few movies of the franchise, Godzilla is actually playing a the role of a hero and not a villain again which was another positive surprise to me.
Obviously, there are also a few minor negative elements in here. Apart of the great and touching first thirty minutes or so, the acting in this movie is a little bit wooden and stereotypical. I'm sorry to say this but child actor Carson Bolde is one of the worst of its kind. His character almost doesn't speak, has only one facial expression and looks like he had a severe Down syndrome. While watching the first thirty minutes, I thought it was going to be an extraordinary movie but a few lengths and the lack of high quality acting made the final result a very good film but not an absolute highlight. Another really negative element is that Godzilla almost only plays a secondary role in this movie apart of the last thirty minutes. The king of monsters doesn't have much screening time but once it is there, it really shines. The movie rather focuses on the two other monsters. I don't want to spoil anything but the two new monsters look somewhat artificial and have no unique charisma. The story around these two monsters had some potential but they are mostly unimpressive in the end and among the most boring opponents Godzilla ever had. On a side note, let's add that the soundtrack of this movie is unimpressive and never comes close to the emotional and epic Japanese soundtracks.
In the end, the first thirty minutes of the movie are creative and intense while the final battle scenes in the last thirty minutes are entertaining and epic at some points. In between, the weak acting, the lack of screen time for Godzilla and the unimpressive new monsters slow the pace of the movie a little bit down. Fans of the franchise might analyze this film as a good and solid comeback but no extraordinary one. Enjoy and watch it without further hesitation if you are still undecided. After all, the new looks of Godzilla and its unique charisma (yes, a monster can have charisma and it's probably the best "actor" in this movie) left me wanting more by the end of the movie. This is a well done tribute to the classics with convincing settings from the Phillipines over Japan to Hawaii and San Francisco. The special effects are as stunning as you can expect. I would call this movie a solid success after all. I'm in love with my childhood hero again and really hope Godzilla will be back.
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