Godzilla (2014)

It’s a shame that this American version of the Japanese titan has already faded from cultural memory, because it’s probably the strongest version of its kind ever made in North America. Some of the usual criticisms of “Godzilla” movies apply here, primarily that it takes too long for the big guy to make an appearance, and that the human characters are negligible at best. This is particularly true regarding the characters here because, while the cast (which includes Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche and Elizabeth Olsen, among a distinguished cast of character actors and budding stars) sounds like a dream, none of them really register onscreen and all are fairly forgettable. However, my opinion is that the time it takes for Godzilla to appear makes it all the more resonant and meaningful, and the final battle is absolutely stunning: The special effects are breathtakingly good, the type of work that inspires awe at their level of detail, and they’re buoyed by tremendous sound work that gives the devastation scenes a realism that’s completely believable. Unfortunately the film it stuck somewhere between a mainstream Hollywood blockbuster that’s too slow-paced for the masses, and a semi-developed exploration of grandiose themes like the consequences of nuclear activity and environmental collapse that’s too broad for thinking audiences – but despite the collective shrug that greeted this entry, it’s a satisfying one for fans of giant monster movies and apocalyptic disaster flicks.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

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