Godzilla returns in this Hollywood re-imagining of the 1954 kaiju film, Gojira. Nuclear testing in the South Pacific results in the mutation of fauna to the point where creatures have mutated to sizes unseen by humans. Dr Niko Tatopolous is an expert in the field of biological mutation and during his study of enlarged worms in Chernobyl, he is confronted by the U.S. military. The officer in charge informs Niko that his current assignment is finished and he must follow them. Without revealing any information, the officer takes Niko to an area affected by a strange monster where researchers are trying to figure out as much as they can about this threat.
The plot in this film exists for a single purpose, to provide a backbone for the CGI action. Initially there is a hunt for information as the U.S. and French military separately gather information on the mysterious monster as it heads for New York. Their efforts are in vain as the creature wreaks havoc before they can gather any useful information. They are stuck chasing the tail of the creature as it eludes everyone by running, swimming and even digging. The team eventually find out that Godzilla may have laid eggs and the French team goes to find them. Intertwined with these shenanigans is a thin romantic tale between Niko and his college flame.
The acting in Godzilla is average, Matthew Broderick is miscast as a quirky professor, Jean Reno a “stereotypical” frenchman and Maria Pitillo a prospective journalist. The combination of these casting choices and a thin script completely rids the film of a mysterious and threatening Godzilla, replacing it with weak humour. Godzilla is not used as the focus of this film but a progressor of the characters stories, he could have been replaced by a tornado or earthquake and the film would not be markedly different. In the first 90 minutes, Godzilla only appears on screen for about 10, by this stage you’ve already forgotten this was a Godzilla flick.
The CGI and effects should be the winner for Godzilla but they mostly seems rushed. The actual monster itself looks fine, the skin texture and features are bang on. The original spine spikes, dark green colour, talon-esque feet and lizard-like texture are done well but the way Godzilla interacts with his surroundings pulls the viewer away from the film. Godzilla changes size throughout the film, doesn’t match the lighting around him and although it is raining the majority of the film, water is never seen dripping or splashing off him. At one point the Godzilla raptors are chasing after the cast and it looks like they are ice-skating, without interacting with the ground at all. These are only a few of the issues with the CGI and it makes Godzilla/raptors seem separate to the set they are placed in, similar to an actor in front of a cheap green screen. Considering Godzilla was released 5 years after Jurassic Park, the look and feel of the monster and it’s kin should be far better.
Godzilla misses the point on what a monster movie should be, it attempts to add unnecessary plot to a film that should be about effects and destruction. This would all be forgivable if the CGI and effects were top class. With a budget of $US 130M, it makes you wonder where all the money went. If you’re after a monster movie, Jurassic Park does a better job, if you’re after a CGI film, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is fantastic. If you want to see a film about a Matthew Broderick love story, New York stereotypes being insulted, a befuddled mayor and incompetent U.S. soldiers unable to hit a barn door with a missile launcher, then Godzilla is the film for you! Approach with caution.
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Check out more on Godzilla at www.imdb.com/title/tt0120685/