There’s a funny thing about panic. In the depths of absolute fear, some say that time slows down. It’s only in the aftermath we look back and see that time seems to slow because it’s the important moments that we remember. The events that take us from one action to another. We know what happened overall, but our account will be speckled with highlights.
This is what you’ll remember when you leave the theatre after Legendary’s reboot(?) of Godzilla. Moments. Highlights. To be honest, this is what most films are put together with. Events that tell us what we need so we can move from one moment to another. However, one important hurdle Godzilla seems to crash into and never quite recover from, is that you have to care. You must be invested in the characters we are following in order to make those events important. This can be difficult at the best of times, but what do you do when your eponymous character can’t speak and may indeed be the cause of the peril you’ve tantalised the crowds with?
The answer is you have the audience follow a human story with, well, humans. However, this is when the narrative can turn and bite you like the proverbial MUTO’s. Especially as your audience didn’t buy their tickets because the title said “Human”. It said Godzilla, goddamn it!
Godzilla does it’s best. After a great title sequence teasing Darwinism and Nuclear deterrents, the movie slows right down to start it’s human story and it’s a heartbreakingly played set-up. From this point it’s all tease and portents. There’s still plenty of destruction, loud noises and explosions. Most of which are magnificently played out with huge reveals and inventive action, but it isn’t quite the Jaws-like reveal it thinks it is. Similarly, in spite of it’s best efforts, you’ll find yourself wondering who to route for. Should it be the earnest humans – some of which seem to take themselves far too seriously – or the mighty monsters who could very well be our demise?
You will get your answer and there are moments that suggest there is an association we have with our main characters, but it all seems a little too late and ultimately hard to swallow. It’s not that the film is a shambles, some moments are executed brilliantly and there are some genuinely tense moments. However, in trying to reinvent itself, Godzilla loses it’s identity. A little too serious for the homages and nods to previous incarnations and emotionally muddled from the array of characters.
3* – Pacific Rim-jobs