Oh no, there goes Francisco, GO GO GO RENT IT!
It looked like it truly would diminish to everything I read up on prior to the viewing. The opening credits looked like those of the ’98 version. Making the first concrete shot a Jurassic Park callback didn’t help either, not when trying to exorcise the prior installment’s J.P.-drenched imagery. Then there’s setting the opening scenes in 1999 (FFFFF…..), presenting Cranston’s character as more knowledgeable than Watanabe’s Serizawa, and overestimating Aaron Taylor Johnson’s character. It wouldn’t be fair though to limit the complaints to the first half’s human drama.
Specific fight scenes could’ve been brighter, the military standoff paled in comparison to those of the Showa/Heisei/Millennium periods, and the Muto’s effectiveness points are void when your first reaction is a Seth Rogen “adlib” from Neighbors. The music doesn’t match the rumblings of doom that soundtracks the 1954 original, instead sounding closer to the more militaristic title marches of the 70s followups. It’s unfortunately likely that the soundtrack probably wasn’t put together with (as) high regard upon noticing that Ligeti’s “Requiem” wasn’t limited to the trailers.
I agree the first hour was agitating in its character transition, but credit goes to Gareth Edwards for catching me off guard with the manner of said transition. And the hinted shout-outs early on were appetite-whetting: we’re talking a moment of ravaged interior setting during which I squee’d “Giant sea ticks!” And was that a Baragon reference? But that kaiju had only one horn.
Such hints are what gave the airport sequence a nice segment of slow-build applause when those feet were seen through the glass. From then on, there was no turning back. The past installment easter eggs re-elevated the fun factor at a quick rate, the colorization of the skydiving sequence exhibits the film’s influences well, and it wasn’t raining from beginning to end!
Then there are the movements and battles involving Godzilla himself. The “Save the Earth!” mood is acknowledged fan service, but it’s daring enough a route to take with the plot that I can’t bear to dislike even a sliver of it. It’s just too heavy of nostalgia to resist. The climactic fight is still a challenge to experience because of the dim tones, but the beneficial move is making every decisive action visible amid the dust and rubble. Thermonuclear blue (oops, spoiler!) lighting does help, especially with the final blow.
It’s a tale of two sections that can gauge how big a G-fan you are through self-awareness of how well you enjoy the opening hour and how it transitions into your reaction to the final part’s best moments.