Something monstrous is rumbling beneath Peter Travers’ feet this week on At the Movies, and it can only be one thing: Godzilla! The beloved green monster is back in theaters once again, and while Godzilla himself is a special effects marvel, our film critic says the rest of the reboot is a hulking, boring behemoth.
Travers has high praise for the way director Gareth Edwards — who nabbed the $150 million project on the strength of his 2010 indie favorite Monsters — handled the jolly green giant lizard, but the problem, he notes, is that Godzilla only shows up during the last third of the film. Everything up to that is a failed attempt to keep the monster at bay while slowly building characters and suspense, à la the paradigm Steven Spielberg famously established in Jaws.
“It’s not great for this Godzilla,” Travers bemoans, “because I didn’t give an ‘effing damn about any of these characters!” The film boasts a top notch cast — including Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche and David Strathairn — but all are acting below their pay grade in this film, and the script is too weak to make you remotely invested in anyone’s story.
What you will care about, however, are Godzilla and the M.U.T.O. — an acronym for Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism that refers to the two nasty creatures created in the aftermath of the nuclear attacks. And while Travers believes Godzilla‘s rehashing of the 1954 film’s allegory of the Japanese nuclear holocaust doesn’t quite have the same resonance in 2014, he lauds the special effects used to create the M.U.T.O. and animate their fantastic final battle with Godzilla.
“If you wanna miss the first hour and change, go out and play video games in the lobby of the theater,” Travers suggests. “But make sure you come back for that last third, because when Godzilla himself and the M.U.T.O. show up — you’ve got a movie.”