This is the type of Godzilla movie that will give the 1998 Emmerich/Devlin film a good name. Dear God(zilla)! How did such a talented group of filmmakers produce such a steaming pile of dino-dung? And notice that I didn't say anything about talented actors – in this film, that would be an oxymoron, unless I were discussing wood surfaces.
Where, oh where, to begin? Let's start with the good stuff, since there's so little of it. The cinematography is excellent, and the special effects are quite passable. This CGI Godzilla more resembles the man-in-the-suit monster than the 1998 oversized iguana, and the entire production lays Easter Eggs from movies past in its wake to warm the hearts of Godzilla fans.
Unfortunately, it lays something else in its wake, and that something's stench reminds me of why I wait for so many movies to arrive on (cheaper) cable. The title is misleading. This film should have been called “'Monsters Attack!,' with a cameo by Godzilla.” Listen, I'm all for suspenseful build-up; Jaws and Aliens are classic examples of how this effect can be done masterfully. Not here – after an hour of teasing, all you get are quick-cut images of scales and feet, until the last 20 minutes of film. Godzilla is an extra in his own movie; geez, even the evil Muto monsters get far more screen time.
The first half of the movie is given over to the (mostly) wooden acting of the human characters. The sole exception is Bryan Cranston, and he chews the scenery with such unbounded glee that the remaining cast have nothing to do except stand around and excrete the most insipid soap-opera dialogue this side of All My Children. Ken Watanabe gets the thankless task of exposition disseminator, but at least he gets the film's best quote (“Let them fight!”), which sets up the final WWE-style monster free-for-all in San Francisco.
This battle is filmed in the style of the Japanese Godzilla films – another indication that this movie brings nothing new to the table. The ending also harkens back to the later films in the series, and ends on the corniest of sappy notes in recent film history. At least Godzilla dominates the final scenes – by then, any residual interest in any of the human characters that threatened to kill the movie from the beginning has been spent and transferred to the more interesting (and better-acting) MUTOs.
FINAL VERDICT: Bryan Cranston and a cast of wooden zeros finally allow Godzilla to stroll through the last few minutes of his own film. Stay home, save your money, and watch old Godzilla movies on TV. The man-in-the-suit Godzilla still rules the franchise!