Filmmaker Gareth Edwards’ big screen redo Godzilla was a somewhat polarizing film. I’m of the opinion that it’s a masterful exercise in visual execution, and the way it somewhat subverts the blockbuster formula results in heightened tension throughout the picture, but the one thing almost every can agree on is that its lead characters—Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Ford Brody and Elizabeth Olsen’s Elle Brody—are emotionally pretty hollow. There’s little investment into how they fare throughout the film, and they’re fairly thinly drawn as is. The sheer spectacle and uniqueness of Edwards’ vision makes up for what the film lacks in character development, but one imagines the film could’ve been even better had the characters been better fleshed out.
And it appears even one of the film’s stars feels this way. Bryan Cranston, who plays the most emotionally invested character in the film, dies fairly early on, leaving viewers with the very plain Ford and Elle. And during a recent appearance on Nerdist Podcast (via JoBlo), Cranston got candid about his displeasure with how his character was handled:
“That character dying at that time was a mistake. I knew it when I read it. When I read it I said, ‘Oh, page 50 this character who was the emotional core at the center, that was guiding the audience in the story up to that point – he dies?’ What a waste.
They kind of dealt with it poorly, that’s my only criticism of it because I think it was a fun movie, it was a very successful movie. I told them that even if I wasn’t doing this role, that character shouldn’t die at that point. It’s just bad narrative, but they were too far down the road. I was the last guy hired because I was still shooting Breaking Bad and they kept pushing because Breaking Bad kept pushing. Finally, I was able to get in and do it.”
Cranston even explained how he thinks the emotional arc of the film could have been better executed:
“That character should have been with his son and they would’ve started to bond a little bit more and they went on this journey together to go back home and be reintroduced to his grandson. Just when they’re bonding and it looks like they could have a relationship, the father sacrifices himself to save his son. And that’s the way he should have died.”
Cranston isn’t the first Godzilla cast member to speak unhappily about his character—Juliette BInoche previously said she also wasn’t thrilled with how early her character dies. And I think it’s no coincidence that Cranston and Binoche give the two most impactful performances in the film; their “goodbye” scene towards the beginning is handled beautifully. If only we could’ve seen more.
But there’s no denying Edwards’ talent behind the camera. He’s currently in production on Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One with yet another stellar ensemble (Felicity Jones, Ben Mendelsohn), and one hopes that picture will be an improvement on a character level. After Star Wars, though, Edwards gets another shot at the King of the Monsters, as he’s poised to return and direct Godzilla 2.