This was probably the first movie I was actually really excited to go see in the theatre in years (the last ones I can recall were 2008's "Cloverfield" and 2009's "Avatar"). Yes, I've been to the theatre since then, but not pumped. Needless to say that means I had rather high expectations for this movie.
First I have to say that this is NOT anything like the 1998 version. For that, I am eternally grateful. The less said about that movie the better.
Now that that's out of the way, how did this new take sit with me? Overall, I enjoyed it. The cinematography is brilliant, the score flows beautifully, and when the action gets going you'll find yourself cheering. The CGI is also really well-done and the monsters felt like they actually had weight to them in the way they moved (unlike in Bay's "Transformers" movies, which all the Transformers clearly are not in the scene). This probably has to do a bit with the fact that none of the monsters physically interact with any humans.
Since I mentioned humans, let's talk about them. All the promos and trailers featured Bryan Cranston as the main character, but sadly, he is not. And I say sadly because while I found his character interesting, the main character Ford (played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is a dead doornail, as is his wife and child. I couldn't give less than two hoots about them, nor 90% of the rest of the cast. The only other characters I liked were the two main scientists (Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins), mainly because they were as invested in Godzilla himself as I was. The movie focuses on the human element more than the monsters themselves; how does their existence affect us and ohno, look at what happened to all those people on the beach, don't you feel horrible for them? Not, not really, no one cares because the humans are flat and lifeless and dammit, we're here to see Godzilla fight! Also, the side-plot of humans versus nature.... cute, but pointless.
Now, as a Godzilla movie, you know that Godzilla will fight other monsters (in this case the MUTOs). He does, but not really until the final thirty minutes and THAT is probably the real of the low-point of the film. Gareth Edwards uses a lot of Spielberg-ese tension building ploys made famous by "Jaws;" you only get brief glimpses of Godzilla until the final act. While I understand this is supposed to build suspense, it is done FAR too often to be effective and instead comes off as annoying. Whenever Godzilla starts fighting before the final act they cut away every single time. We came here for Godzilla, so give use Godzilla! The final act almost makes up for it, but it also shows how much more potential the movie wasted.
Yet, I really did enjoy the movie, though I won't be going to the theatre again and when the home video comes out, I'll be skipping straight to the money scenes. I'm hoping now that we have the basis setup done, we'll get more of Godzilla in the already announced sequel and less humans. Hopefully Hollywood is listening.
One last point I need to make: did anyone else feel as if the MUTOs were a clear reference to Clover from "Cloverfield"?