Godzilla, in almost every single way, is an extremely difficult film to review. It’s that rare film that isn’t exactly bad, but which still manages to be a bit disappointing in almost every single regard. If you’re expressly interested in giant monster fights, a repeat viewing of Pacific Rim is probably a better way to spend your time–Godzilla’s screentime here is pretty sparse. But then that’s the case with nearly every Godzilla movie, so if you were expecting wall-to-wall monster action I don’t really know what to tell you. If you’re going in expecting a return to Ishiro Honda’s 1954 Gojira, which seems to be what the majority of the trailers were selling, you’re likely to be disappointed. If you’re looking for director Gareth Edwards to highlight the ground-level human struggle which comes with the territory of giant monster attacks like he did in his impressive 2010 debut film Monsters, well…I guess that’s what he was going for here, anyway. And yet, this movie pretty much drops the ball in that department as well.
The great thing about Guillermo del Toro–what makes him so endlessly interesting as a writer and as a director–is that he never forgot what it’s like to be a kid. He’s got all these years of filmmaking experience and accumulated knowledge on a vast array of obscure subject matter, nestled alongside the uninhibited creativity of a precocious child. I can’t decide if that sounds insulting or not, implying that a grown man has a kid brain, but I’m sticking with it. There’s just no other way to describe it. Nearly everyone has an amazing mind as a child, and it’s only after years of exposure to words like “impossible” that those parts of the brain die off and we resign ourselves to the mundane. Del Toro somehow held on against all odds, and like Billy Batson and Captain Marvel now enjoys a full and equal creative partnership with his inner child. Pacific Rim is the latest fruit of that unique work ethic, a wholly unironic film about giant robots punching giant monsters for the survival of mankind. And I want to you to know that I’m being completely serious when I say that it’s pretty much a masterpiece.