After a few pretty good monster movies in a row I was really hoping Godzilla would continue the trend. Unfortunately, it has neither the novel horror viewpoint of Cloverfield or the satisfying adrenaline rush of Pacific Rim. This movie is a bloated mess with nary a good moment. I can accept some amount of stupidity, hey, I like the latest Fast and the Furious movies! However, the entirety of Godzilla is an assault on my credulity and it does so for no discernible gain.
We open with what appears to be some minor tremors completely collapsing what must be the most fragile nuclear power plant ever created. Bryan Cranston’s wife is for whatever reason approaching the nuclear reactor when this happens. It is never really explained what her profession is or why they are going towards the reactor. Furthermore, as the plant collapses they have to outrun some white cloud and reach the exit before Cranston has to close the door. What is so dangerous about this white cloud that is seemingly stopped by a door? I assume it is radiation or something, but who knows. I think the script kept it nebulous to cover up how stupid this entire sequence is. If this depiction of nuclear power plants were real, we should all be very afraid.
Fast forward 15 years. Cranston is obsessed with the tremors that took down the power plant and he brings his son back to the site of the accident. Here they find a government group observing some kind of larvae. For what purpose is never clear even though we later find out that their working theory is that the creatures are evil parasites. At least the normal plot of the military using such things to create superweapons gives a purpose to leaving the monster alive. Here we have no reason to spend millions observing a larvae we think could be dangerous.
Anyways, it comes to life, Cranston dies and leaves us wondering what the point of his character was. I guess it gets his son involved? Anyways this monster eats radiation and thus attacks nuclear power plants and subs, etc. Unfortunately, the radiation from these things is really not that high, thus our ability to stand somewhat near them. How the monster even detects these sources from any great distance is never explained. Furthermore, how does this sustain a 300 foot tall monster? At least in Pacific Rim the monsters are actually alien weapons and we don’t have to worry about such questions, but the monsters in Godzilla are apparently ancient species that once roamed the land and you have to wonder how they survived.
Which brings up the monster’s EMP ability. Why would ancient monsters have such an ability? It would be entirely useless if no technology is around. It doesn’t even function consistently in the movie. Once the monster dies it seems that everything turns back on.
Anyways, we find out that a second monster still lives in Nevada and implausibly awakens. It is implied that it was stored in Yucca Mountain with our radioactive waste (which they know it feeds on, come on guys). Despite a huge desert and the fact that Yucca Mountain is north of Vegas, and thus not in the creature’s path toward San Francisco, it takes a detour to wreck The Strip.
Meanwhile the military comes up with a stupid plan to leave a nuke off the coast of San Francisco to lure they monsters and blow them up. Not a terrible plan, except that they are only leaving it 20 miles off the coast. It is pretty much guaranteed that the westerly wind off the coast will blow radioactive particles into SF shortening the lives of millions.
Now they ship this thing by train for some reason and Cranston’s son, Ford, manages to somehow be in the right place to hop aboard. Of course it intersects with the monster. Rather than staying internally consistent, the monster decides not to eat said radioactive device. The military then decides that now is a good time to bring a chopper in to ship the bomb, *facepalm*. Of course, they set the bomb to have a 90 minute timer at about the same time the monsters appear in SF in what must be the most botched timing ever. The monsters then take the bomb onto the mainland, I am assuming to feed their young.
Way more than an hour and a half transpire before Ford and a team go in to recover the nuke and disarm or push it out to sea. They tell him there will be no extraction. Also we learn that not only is Ford a bomb disposal expert, but that he can parachute with expert ease into urban environments.
Now you might be wondering, where is the titular character? Well he finally shows up and we get maybe a couple minutes of him dully battling the evil MUTAs. Ken Watanbe’s character for reasons unknown thinks Godzilla is our savior and creepily seems to view him as a sacred religious figure. It turns out he is our savior, but it is never even conjectured why, especially after we attack him. He does get the coolest moment in the movie when he holds the jaws of a MUTA open and breathes down its neck. This is the only reason to watch the movie IMO.
Simultaneously, Ford is pushing the nuke out to sea and what do you know, he gets extracted. The nuke doesn’t look far enough out to sea to avoid the radiation problem I talked about earlier and all the dust from the monster battle is probably going to give everyone in the city some sort of lung disease. Lest I forget, there was also a scene on the Golden Gate Bridge, which seems like the worst place possible to be in a crisis, especially if it is known a monster is coming by sea.
That was the entire movie. Tons of plot elements that served no logical purpose except to extend the movie and only a few short minutes of Godzilla and monsters battling. Like all monster movies it drastically underestimates the power of modern armaments, but if you are going to do so it is much more fun to build giant robots to combat the giant monsters. Depending on the mercies of the inscrutable Godzilla turns out a steaming pile of drek. I really cannot understand the good critical and monetary success of this film. It gave us neither epic popcorn fare or a compelling narrative or emotional arc which leaves us with something utterly vacuous.