Godzilla is primordial pap.
It is teeming with special effects, but everything else is unspecial. Godzilla probably originally was titled Goddrivel, written by Max Borenstein. It is crammed with a bevy of weary coincidences and stock characters.
Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) is a nuclear physicist who forgets his own birthday - that's the level of characterization. He also becomes estranged from his son. Yawn.
Cranston took acting lessons from Godzilla and chews the scenery. Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Ford Brody) and Elizabeth Olsen (Elle Brody) are way in the lead for portraying the blandest couple of the year. It also doesn't help that there often is a shot of Godzilla followed by one of Olsen's reactions. Gigantism, then puniness.
Juliette Binoche, David Strathairn, and Sally Hawkins are wasted in one-dimensional roles.
Only Ken Watanabe (Dr. Ichiro Serizawa) gives a performance with any humanity.
Alexandre Desplat's music tries to give muscle to flabby characters.
The movie unleashes an earthquake that causes a devastating meltdown in a Japanese nuclear plant. 15 years later, monsters are on the loose. Godzilla and MUTOs. What is their purpose? Honolulu, Las Vegas, and San Francisco are ravaged. Can the MUTOs be stopped?
As director, Gareth Edwards is pretty much a humorless technician. He does put the name Edwards on one plane. Ah, auteurism.
In both Godzilla and Spielberg's Jaws (1975), a leading character is named Brody. [In Jaws, Roy Scheider portrayed Police Chief Martin Brody.] It's instructive to compare Godzilla with the far superior War of the Worlds (2005).
Aaron Taylor-Johnson is no Tom Cruise; Elizabeth Olsen is no Dakota Fanning; and most of all, Gareth Edwards is no Spielberg. Spielberg knows how to build a dramatic arc and imaginative scenes. Edwards doesn't.
One simply has to look at how each uses a fiery train.
Spielberg channels Hitchcock; Edwards channels poppycock.
Many audiences will be satisfied with the title character and won't care about what's around him. It delivers for those who just want mayhem.
The movie's best part is when we see Godzilla shuffling away in all his power and majesty.
It's unfortunate the world he rules is one of nonentities.