"Is it him?"
It's one of the first phrases said in this movie, which actually has very little dialogue, and it is a question viewers will continue to ask throughout the movie. Is this Godzilla?
Or, more specifically, is this the Godzilla movie we wanted to see?
This Godzilla comes 16 years after the Roland Emmerich Godzilla movie starring Matthew Broderick as the scientist out to save the world. It was widely panned as a failure and nominated for multiple Razzies.
So, how has everyone's favorite lizard changed?
Well, despite the fact that Godzilla is much bigger, everything else in the movie is very sparse. There is less dialogue, less dramatic swelling of music, less complicated human relationships, less over explanation of what created Godzilla and what he means for the future of humanity and no dramatic monologue made by the hero in a last ditch effort to save the world. Many staples of the disaster movie genre are not there.
In fact, the movie is pretty simple – monsters attack, we attack monsters, monsters attack each other, chaos ensues.
However, it takes a while for the movie to get there.
In the meantime we follow our hero, a Navy Lieutenant played by Aaron-Taylor Johnson who is just trying to get home from Japan after he and his father discover the seismic activity that ruined their childhood home may not have been from an earthquake. While everyone in the movie scrambles answers on how to defeat creatures that threaten humanity, it feels like the audience is two steps ahead. The answer is clearly monster fight and yet the audience doesn't get to see this until after sitting through some scenes which are frankly boring.
This may have something to do with the two leads played by Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen. While they perform admirably as people trying to find each other without being stomped on by a giant lizard, their performances are generally uninspired and have no real sense of urgency. Their generic personalities are easily overshadowed by their large co-star.
Much like Jaws, you don't actually see Godzilla until well into the movie, a choice the director, Gareth Edwards, deliberately made in order to build up suspense. However, most of the audience already knows all about Godzilla. After all, it's the big guy's 60th birthday. So all the suspense building comes off as stalling and drags the movie down in some scenes. Suspense is nice, but sometimes you just want to see monsters fight.
When Godzilla becomes the main focus in the final fourth of the movie it is very impressive. It is clear why movie creators all over the world retell the story of Godzilla, each one trying to top the destruction and gigantism the creature brings to the screen. For the final scenes alone it's worth your money to see the King of the Monsters take full form and destroy anything that gets in his way.
Top 10: Movie monsters