Godzilla (2014) - The Problem With Expectations
DISCLAIMER: Spoilers ahead!
As a kid growing up in the 90s, Power Rangers was my introduction to the world of Kaiju and Tokusatsu. There was just something inherently cool about watching rubber suited monsters fight off against giant robots in those miniature sets.
Can you imagine my surprise when I discovered the show was an American adaptation of a Japanese show called Super Sentai? My whole childhood was a lie, I thought.
Since I was already into anime, the transition to Super Sentai was painless. Needless to say, Gojira was the next logical step, one that I took with pleasure.
As a moderate fan, it was not surprising that I was excited for the American 2014's adaptation. As much as I like people in rubber suits, those practical effects don't exactly do any favors in bringing new fans into the franchise. No, people nowadays want cutting edge 3D effects in their movies (and here I am, sounding like an old man in my 20s).
Having never watched a Godzilla movie on the big screen, you can imagine my excitement when the lights turned off...
...And then I got bored by all the human drama.
Don't get me wrong, Bryan Cranston was great. Until they killed him off at the end of the first act. His search for the truth was at least mildly interesting, something to keep your attention until Godzilla arrived. By this logic, the action should've started on the second act. Instead, until the third act, we only see glimpses of it.
The protagonist, Aaron Taylor-Johnson's character, wasn't able to carry the narrative on his own. It doesn't help that the screenwriters gave him almost nothing relevant to do. If we're going to spend at least half of the screen time with this dude, instead of Godzilla, then at least make him interesting.
But enough about the humans. How are the monsters? Well, I hope you enjoy watching your monster battles through a TV screen because that happens a lot. Oh, and cutting to another scene right when Godzilla is about to show up. God, I hate when they do that.
By the third act, we got to see Godzilla kicking some ass, but was it worth the wait? As a fan, I'd say it was. Despite all the problems, my fanboy side would always jump with joy every time the king of the monsters appeared on screen.
That's what people want to see: giant monsters bashing each other in the head. You can add all the human element you want and people would just shrug, or worse, get bored. Now, I'm not saying there shouldn't be any characters in the story. You can make a somewhat serviceable cast, as long as they don't get in the way. Even better, have them realize how useless they are in the grand scheme of things, like in some kind of cosmic horror story.
The trailers for Godzilla: King of the Monsters have shown that they learned from this mistake, at least in theory. Not only they got King Ghidorah, Mothra, and other iconic monsters, but they also seem to be focusing on them, not the humans.
Like in Slasher movies, the human characters in these types of stories are only supposed to be a vehicle for the monster. I'm not saying you can't try anything new, but unless it's brilliantly executed, you risk alienating your audience. There's a fine line between writing generic characters that fulfill their roles in the story and writing generic characters that gets in the way of the main attraction. After all, we're just here for Godzilla.