I'll start with a confession. I was fifteen with the previous Godzilla movie came out. That one starred Matthew Broderick, and I had a great time! It was like Ferris Bueller's Day Off meets Jurassic Park! I was glued to the screen and I couldn’t imagine a better weekend movie. Then... I watched it last year and I'm sad to say, it doesn't stand the test of time. It's still fun, but there are too many cringe worthy moments that spoil the overall effect.
Enter the reboot or remake or the latest film in a franchise that stretches back 60 years. The preview had me mesmerized and turned my apathy into actual anticipation. And when I heard that Bryan Cranston was going to be starring, I was foaming at the mouth for this film!
I needed to see it!
Then... I saw it.
Sigh. "It was good," I told myself as I left the theater. "But they killed Bryan Cranston off after 30 minutes." Sigh (again).
The film started with so much potential. The opening scene where the reactor malfunctions and Cranston is forced to watch his wife die while she is only inches away is absolute emotional gold. I cared about Cranston's struggle to find the reasons behind his wife's death, and I even connected with the strained relationship with estranged son. I wanted to see Cranston discover the truth and patch things up with his son with a heartfelt, emotional climax!
Then Cranston dies, and all the reasons I had to care died with him.
This would have been a brave move in line with a George R.R. Martin's story. A pivotal character is killed to make us feel tension through the ones who survive. But in Martin's novels the surviving characters are able to carry the weight of the story. Aaron Taylor-Johnson isn't. I'm not blaming Johnson for his acting because I don't think the script gave him anything to do. He goes from point A to B following a dubious chain of events that somehow put him in a pivotal place for the final battle between monsters.
David Callaham of Doom and The Expendables 1-4 wrote the scrip for Godzilla along with Max Borenstein, a relative unknown with minimal television credits. And even though they are successful individuals who get paid huge sums of money (huge to someone like me), I can’t help but wonder what they were thinking? In my opinion the emotional backbone of the story was completely ripped out, and a character that should have guided us through (Cranston) was killed for shock value alone.
I did appreciate the choice to limit the Godzilla exposure. The 1998 film had a surplus of monster while the reboot only had the monster appear for about 10 minutes. When we're talking monsters of any kind less is always more. It's the people I care about in these films... I just wish Godzilla (2014) gave me someone I could actually care about to go along with the epic mayhem of monster madness.