The 1950s and 1960s, Godzilla was really a person in an ill-fitting, baggy suit. Producers had the radioactive, amphibious dinosaur-like creature stomping on toy tanks, soldiers and model cities. Sometimes Godzilla's aim was to destroy the world, at other times it did battle against one threat or another to save Japan and the world.
The movies were awful with a capital A.
As a teenager, my friends and I never failed to catch them on late night TV and later in life we found them at midnight movies at art house theaters. Filled with unintentional laughs, Godzilla and his movies -- until now -- have been an absolute blast.
The last times we saw the famed monster was in 1998 and 2000. The first was a Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin production, and it had he/she getting himself/herself pregnant and attacking New York City. Pregnant? Really? And Matthew Broderick -- who starred -- actually had a straight face when he delivered the news.
I laughed until my sides hurt. In 1998, I was still doing reviews on TV. At the end of my review and before I could give the movie a grade, I had a ticked-off Godzilla's foot squashing me like a bug.
I had an equal amount of fun with my TV review of Godzilla 2000. It was a Japanese released flick that I reviewed with the sound of my voice slightly off from the movement of my lips like the dubbed in English of the old Japanese flicks.
All this may seem irrelevant considering I'm supposed to be reviewing the new Godzilla. It's fun to think about past versions and the fun I had watching and reviewing them. No fun will be had reviewing this one. It was no fun to watch and is not going to be fun to bash.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass) stars as Ford Brody. His dad -- played with fierce intensity by Bryan Cranston -- was a honcho at a nuclear power plant in Japan 15-years ago when it suffered a meltdown. The government immediately covered it up.
Ford -- as an adult -- accompanies Dad to the supposedly abandoned plant where they're apprehended by scientists keeping an insect-like entity in stasis. Just after they arrive, the monster -- looking like a cross between Alien's creature and a preying mantis -- gets loose and begins gobbling up anything radioactive. He also starts looking for his mate who just materialized in the U.S.
Godzilla pops onto the scene at that point. Apparently in prehistoric Earth, he/she/it was a mortal enemy of the creature and his bride to be. Godzilla is going after them, and they all meet in San Francisco.
Godzilla is directed by Gareth Edwards (Monsters) and is written by first time screenwriter Max Borenstein from a story done by Dave Callaham (The Expendables). Edwards is a visual effects specialist. The effects are good but his storytelling skills are non-existent.
Callaham's story might have been a fun one if done by a better screenwriter. Borenstein gives Taylor-Johnson and his co-stars Cranston, Ken Watanabe, David Strathairn, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins and Elizabeth Olsen little to do.
To give Edwards some credit, the effects -- especially in 3D -- are incredible. He does a brilliant job of crafting the destruction and creature battles. But the movie is all about the battle, and it takes forever to get there. You could nap for 70-minutes and catch the last 50 and miss nothing.
Godzilla is able to save the world but can't do much to save the movie.
Director: Gareth Edwards
Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn
Mr. Movie rating: 1 star
Rated PG-13 for mature themes, violence. It's playing at Regal's Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.
-- Does Mr. Movie hit a home run? Let him know at www.tri-cityherald.com/arts/mrmovie.