(Gareth Edwards, USA, 2014)
It seems as though as I age (which fact has lately been especially present in my mind, given my recent BDay) I become less tolerant of the mayhem so avidly delivered by massive-scale action movies. All of the destruction and suffering: more and more, these films seem to me - with their countless glimpses of anonymous victims being dispatched en masse - to be an adroit expression of some troubling cultural pathology. "Disaster porn" is feeling more pornographic, lately, for whatever reason; rather than assisting me in suspending my disbelief, I can't help but be reminded of the potential real catastrophes we all face in this troubled, warming world. I imagine those risks, what all of this chaos reflects psychologically, even spiritually, and the experience quickly becomes a real bummer.
Godzilla delivers Godzilla. The beast is rendered with love and high VFX craft, and his appearances are reliably, satisfyingly awesome. But much of the rest of the film is a wash; the story begins in the key of the hysterical and winds down in the listless. People have been slagging Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and it's true that he doesn't have much of a character to play, but Bryan Cranston is more poorly served by the director/screenwriters, charged with emoting enough for this film and several sequels. He acts his heart out, but can only chew scenery. It's a lot of jagged raging to no end, other than to indicate to the audience that this movie is "serious" because it employs serious Actors doing some serious Acting for approximately 1/35th of the run-time.
That said, there are some truly majestic moments to be found. It's too bad they couldn't have appeared in a better film. Like so much studio mega-fare, it falters by aiming for, and hitting, the middle; it's neither rambunctiously silly and over-the-top, nor is it half as serious as it wants to be. The audience I saw it with, in a nearly sold-out screening, clapped and cheered at several key moments, all of them involving the titular monster, and it was clear that what was relished most was the huge, lumbering, fun of Godzilla being Godzilla. The rest is superfluous, mostly.
Making G the hero/savior -or at least the lesser evil of the evil monsters - is an understandable move, and not intrinsically wrong, but it felt unsatisfying in this case.