"With a purposeful grimace and a terrible sound,
He pulls the spitting high tension wires down."
Blue Oyster Cult
"Godzilla" is one big dumb beast of a movie.
"Godzilla" has impressive computer-generated special effects, excellent production values and a cast of fine actors.
That can't rescue a poorly conceived story, predictable screenplay and choppy directing.
"Godzilla" is front-loaded with a back-story about nuclear power plant official Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) and his scientist wife Sandra (Juliette Binoche).
Binoche is dispatched in the movie's first 30 minutes or so after investigating strange rumblings underneath the Japanese nuclear power plant where the couple works. The facility's radiation door is sealed. Exit Juliette Binoche.
Fast-forward 15 years (courtesy of a title card so old-school) with Brody brooding over the loss of his wife and harboring the nagging suspicion that something more went on and is going on at the plant site.
What's been going on is that a Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism (MUTO) has made a nest in the remains of the nuke plant, sucking the radioactive juice out it.
Brody was arrested when he returned to the site. His adult son, Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), wishes wife Ellen (Elizabeth Olsen) goodbye and goes to get dad out of jail, only to return to the plant with him. Now both of them are arrested. MUTO stirs and the senior Brody is killed.
Enter Admiral William Stenz (David Strathairn). A military team is tracking Godzilla and the now multiple MUTOs. Scientist Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) warns sagaciously against destroying Godzilla.
Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins) tags along for no apparent reason other than for her British accent to add credibility to plot-point pronouncements with deer-in-headlights line delivery. Watanabe is difficult enough to understand. Mostly, Watanabe seems to be having a "Best Grimaces" contest with Strathairn.
"Oh no, they say he's got to go, go, go Godzilla
Oh, no, there goes Tokyo, go, go Godzilla"
Blue Oyster Cult
Meanwhile, the MUTOs are wreaking havoc in Tokyo (that's a redundancy in a "Godzilla" film), then fly trans-Pacific, with a "stomp-over" in Honolulu, and descend on San Francisco and Las Vegas. Godzilla pops up, too, taking his toll on the Golden Gate Bridge. There's a huge battle between the MUTOs and Godzilla, which is filmed in very dark lighting. Guess who wins?
Not the movie-goer.
"Godzilla" is a genre of films that is cheeky fun. There have been 28 "Godzilla" movies from 1954 through 2004, plus four American films, including "Godzilla" (2014).
The 1954 Japanese original was released internationally in 1956, with an intense Raymond Burr ("Rear Window," 1954; TV's "Perry Mason," 1957-'66; "Ironside," 1967- '75) edited in.
"Godzilla" is supposed to be fun as during a 1982 Blue Oyster Cult concert at the Allentown Fair Grandstand when Godzilla emerged from the fog at stage right and reared its ugly head to begin BOC's 1977 hit, "Godzilla."
At a screening of a "Godzilla" movie at Syracuse University in the late 1960s, when talking back to the screen was all the rage, a character in the film asked, "Why is he going back to Japan?" My room-mate Eric Taylor yelled out, "Because he was made there."
During a long weekend at the Essex House hotel in New York in 1981, I watched a "Godzilla" film festival: "Mothra vs. Godzilla" (1964), "Godzilla vs. Megalon" (1973) and "Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster" (1971).
"Godzilla" director Gareth Edwards ("Monsters," 2010), screenwriter Max Borenstein ("Swordswallowers and Thin Men," 2003) and story writer Dave Callaham ("The Expendables," 2010, '12, 14; "Doom," 2005) take "Godzilla" way too seriously.
And they don't back it up. The dialogue is lame. The screenplay has plot holes. There are factual errors. (For details, refer to Goofs, "Godzilla," IMDb.com). The movie was seen in the Imax 3D format, which adds little to the film's attraction.
Blue Oyster Cult's "Godzilla" said it best:
"History shows again and again
How nature points up the folly of men"
Blue Oyster Cult
To paraphrase, movie remakes show again and again the folly of Hollywood studio men.
"Godzilla," MPAA Rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some Material May Be Inappropriate For Children Under 13) for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence; Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi; Run time: 2 hrs., 3 min.; Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.
Credit Readers Anonymous: Elvis Presley's "(She's The) Devil In Disguise" is heard briefly during one scene in "Godzilla."
Box Office, May 23: "X-Men: Days of Future Past," opened with $90.8 million during the three-day Memorial Day weekend, sending "Godzilla" packing, $30.9 million, $148.2 million, two weeks, and keeping "Blended" way back, opening at No. 1 with $14.2 million;
4. "Neighbors," $14 million, $113.7 million; three weeks; 5. "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," $7.8 million, $184.9 million, four weeks; 6. "Million Dollar Arm," $6.9 million, $20.5 million, two weeks; 7. "The Other Woman," $3.7 million, $77.8 million, five weeks; 8. "Rio 2," $2.4 million, $121.5 million, seven weeks; 9. "Chef," $2.2 million, $3.5 million, three weeks; 10. "Heaven Is For Real," $2 million, $85.8 million, six weeks
Unreel: May 30:
"Maleficent," PG: Angelina Jolie stars as the evil queen from Disney's 1959 animated classic, "Sleeping Beauty," in the live action fantasy adventure. Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley and Imelda Staunton co-star.
"A Million Ways to Die in the West," R: Seth MacFarlane directs and stars in the western spoof that co-stars Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Neil Patrick Harris and Sarah Silverman.
Read Paul Willistein's movie reviews at the Lehigh Valley Press web site, thelehighvalley-press.com; the Times-News web site, tnonline.com; and hear them on "Lehigh Valley Art Salon," 6 - 6:30 p.m. Mondays, WDIY 88.1 FM, and wdiy.org, where they're archived. Email Paul Willistein: email@example.com. You can follow Paul Willistein on Twitter and friend Paul Willistein on facebook.
Two Popcorn Boxes Out of Five Popcorn Boxes