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Why Ford's Character Suffers in Godzilla (2014)! (Does Ford's Character Suck?)

InstinctiveGigan

Oct-06-2014 4:31 AM

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“InstinctiveGigan, why are you making more topics about the flaws of Godzilla (2014)? The film has already been out on DVD for nearly a month, why continually talk crap about it?”

Personally, I believe a film can never get too old to discuss its flaws. I can go on and on about the flaws I feel Heisei films like SpaceGodzilla or Destroyah have, but just because they are over 2 decades old, doesn’t mean I can never talk about said flaws.

This particular discussion is going to focus on the character of Ford, and why his character arc suffered magnificently in the film, thus, making the film suffer since he’s our main focus. Let’s get this out of the way, is Ford a bland character? Kinda. And no, having a dark backstory or “potential” to be an intricate character is not a good excuse for how he is portrayed in the film. That’s like saying Spider-man deserves my love and attention just from his Uncle Ben dying, not his personality or where his morality stands etc., just the fact he’s got a dead uncle.

And for those of you worried I’m gonna hate on your favorite Godzilla film cuz I’m a jerk, don’t worry. I’m solely talking about Ford and how the film giving him the main focus was a huge mistake. Surely, we can all agree on that being a negative of the film. And before anyone mentions it, yes, I do hear in the movie novelization Ford gets more character due to us getting more inside his head, but that does not excuse the movie for not characterizing him in the actual film just like it doesn’t excuse Destiny’s lack of lore by making it readable on Bungie.net.

And just remember, I'm not a hater that wants to crap on this film and make it garbage in everyone's eyes. I'm just a concerned fan that wants to help fix what is otherwise a very huge, glaring problem that I hope isn't repeated in the sequels. So, with that said, let’s take an in-depth look on why the character of Ford Brody in “Godzilla (2014)”, more or less, sucks.

______________________________________________________________________________________

Let’s go step-by-step:

1) His Actions And Presence Are Meaningless

If Ford were removed from the film altogether, what would be different from the main storyline? If every other soldier in the film were portrayed realistically, absolutely nothing. There’s a review for the film that helped inspire me to start this discussion that puts it best. The nuke story towards the end was only fabricated to give Ford a reason to be there. I mean think about it, realistically the soldiers would be the ones to push that auto-pilot button on the boat to get the nuke out already, not just Ford. The soldiers should also be concerned about the Muto’s nest and hang back to take care of it, not just Ford. There should be more than one freaking bomb expert on that mission in the entirety of the U.S. that could help with the retrieval/detonation plan, not just Ford. It’s like you had to make the other military members complete dumbasses to give him a point, and if your character has no point in a story than get him out of there, don’t contrive the story to give him a reason to be there; which Godzilla (2014) unfortunately did.

So just to cover it all, Ford’s only bearing on the events of the story is killing the Muto’s nest, and sending the nuke away on the boat. And both could’ve and should’ve been done by the other soldiers, the only point Ford has in the story and they have to make the other soldiers complete idiots for it to work. Replace Ford with “random American soldier with an actual brain #6” and he can be written out of the story completely.

2) He Is A SUPER Contrived Character

What is contrivance? Something that happens for no other reason than to serve the plot, like everything Ford does or experiences. Like telling his family to stay in San Francisco even though he’s aware giant monsters are converging there, which no good father would do. Or being unable to open the nuke at the end even though he should have tools or something that should help him deal with this situation, forcing the soldiers to take it to the boat. Or how every other nuke expert in the entire world just conveniently vanished into thin air, leaving only him to deal with this Godzilla epidemic. Or how he’s the only soldier in the train escort that survived. Or how even though the military specifically said they wouldn’t be able to extract him even though mere seconds after the EMP wears out, they send a chopper to rescue him anyway. Do you see the problem?

Now contrivance isn’t a bad thing, because if something out of the ordinary doesn’t happen than you have no story, so in other words, no Godzilla and no Mutos. But when it’s obvious and borderline stupid, that’s when you can see contrivance out in the open, naked. The job of a good writer is to clothe contrivance up and make it blend into the background. But a lazy writer will use contrivance to move the story along because they don’t want to bother to think of better ways to put their characters in the situations of the story. You might think I’m looking into too much stuff in terms of what Ford goes through, but how many of you didn’t automatically know when Ford pulled his gun out at the female Muto at the end that Godzilla was going to save him? With everything coincidently happening to Ford this massively, I’m surprised Ford isn’t a “chosen one” in a “prophecy” that is “destined” to help Godzilla defeat the Mutos.

3) Ford Doesn't Interact with Anyone

Remember when Ford was interacting with his wife and his dad at the beginning of the movie, remember how fleshed out his character was becoming? Well, after Cranston dad dies, say goodbye to that because we are literally given no other instance where Ford’s character is built. We don’t see him make any new friends on the way, we don’t see him morally/emotionally struggle. I mean there was that one phone call he made to his wife and that one time he looked at a picture of his family, that was, something. Heck, it seems like we were starting to get something with that Japanese kid in Hawaii, but by the end of the scene the kid vanished from the movie completely and feels more like that kid was just put into the film for a helpless boy Ford had to save so the audience can view him as a “hero”. If Ford developed friendships with Serizawa or the other military soldiers on his journey, we would constantly see his character being fleshed out more, but we never get that.

Instead, it’s like the film expects the first hour of development Ford got to be enough for us to care about him and become invested, that’s unfortunately not how it works. You have to continually prove to us why this guy we’re continually watching is so awesome. As audience members, we aren’t gonna take your word for it. In other words show, don’t tell. And this fact is probably going to bite the sequel in the ass too, because if Max Borenstein thinks Ford was characterized plenty in this film, than he’s probably going to think writing Ford (if he returns) with little interactions in the sequel will be good enough cuz “the original covered it”.

4) Other Characters Are So Much More Interesting

Serizawa is a scientist that has studied monsters for years, has a clear dark past, and has a clear enough understanding and passion for these beasts that he actually mourns over the possible death of Godzilla toward the end of the film. Admiral William, is a strong military leader who wants to save innocent people and has a clear struggle on whether or not he should let nature take its course like Serizawa says yet risk massive collateral damage or use his own forces in a desperate attempt to save everyone. Heck, even Ford’s wife Ellie is a mother who desperately wants to save her child but is forced to care for people in a time where goliaths are at war and risk her safety and her child’s for the safety and protection of others.

The main point is that, although Ford has the potential to be interesting to follow, for this particular story he’s not. Yet we have other characters that clearly can be a million times more interesting to watch during this story but we fail to focus on because the writers think Ford is just such a lovable guy. Comparing how interesting the other charactesr in the story are just makes his character look all the more bland by comparison. Serizawa still interests me after watching the film 6 times far more than Ford ever did, which is why I hope the sequel focuses on him instead. Because if you cut away from a Godzilla fight in the sequel to focus on Serizawa discussing monster conspiracy or his past, it’s less of a sting, but if you cut away to Ford buying a Snickers from a 7-11 I will lose my freaking mind!

 

______________________________________________________________________________________

And that’s pretty much all my points for why Ford alone is a massive negative for this film. I feel if we were following Serizawa, or even Ellie, or you know, Joe Brody the film would’ve been 10x better since the human element would be worth the cuts away from Godzilla fights. And I hope the writer(s) learn from their mistakes, whether that’s characterizing Ford more or focusing on a much more interesting person in the story, the sequel will be better for it. And again, I’m not saying Ford is a bad character, as mentioned before he does have potential and there are segments of the story where it shows you he could be interesting (mainly in the first hour). But, the film is trying to convince me he’s interesting by just saying he is, and not showing it. Again, show, don’t tell.

I hope this advice is followed, because I do want the human element to thrive in this franchise. After all, we love Dr. Grant from “Jurassic Park” and (ironic enough) Brody from “Jaws”, make us love Ford from the Legendary Godzilla franchise. And if not, there’s this other cool character that is way more interesting and cool to follow and focus on, just a small character that plays not too big a role, you know, a certain, fun guy called GODZILLA!

Welp, those are my thoughts. I sure hope a lot of people reply to this discussion otherwise I’ve spent over an hour dedicating my super nerd brain to this long typed piece of thought for nothing. What do you guys think? Do you agree with me about Ford? How would you improve him or the human element of this new franchise? Leave your thoughts, and thanks for patiently reading this! I appreciate it!

(Also, if I have any spelling/grammar errors, please let me know. I’m super OCD about that kind of stuff and it’s super late and I wanna go to bed cuz I have no life and BAH!)

27 Responses to Why Ford's Character Suffers in Godzilla (2014)! (Does Ford's Character Suck?)

yokoshai

Oct-06-2014 5:19 AM

I agree dude, there was potential...hopefully the sequl rocks

Akio123

Oct-06-2014 5:31 AM

Damn Gigan, extremely well written! I agree on all points. You know, I have consistently stressed about Max B coming back for the sequel. I'm probably just being negative. Hopefully he learns from his major mistakes in the first film and will write a clever yet emotionally incline script for the sequel. 

KoldWarKid62

Oct-06-2014 5:33 AM

@InstinctiveGigan - For me there were three main problems with this movie, but I'm going to stick to your topic, which was one of the big ones; although I'll add to it. I pretty much agree with you about the Ford character. I think you're spot on about that. What I have to disagree with though is your opinion about the other characters. When I saw the the all star cast they had in this movie, and how many writers had a stab at the screenplay/script, I thought that part of the movie would be spot on. Of course, having that many writers should also have been a red flag. I liked Cranston and thought Watanabe was serviceable, but quite honestly the rest of the characters could have been played by anyone else and it wouldn't have changed a thing. There was no dynamic between any of the characters, and I couldn't have cared less about Ford's family. I wasn't emotionally invested in anyone but Joe Brody. For the most part I can't blame the actors. I don't think there was much to work with.

People constantly reference Jaws which sends my blood pressure through the roof! Please NO! Apples and oranges. I loved the characters in Jaws. I could watch a movie with the three main characters all by themselves. Great dynamic between the three of them. They were the Kirk, Spock and McCoy of Jaws. That movie moves right along in between the intense shark scenes.

Now, having said that, for me (and I know not for everyone), had there been more Godzilla in "Godzilla" the weak characters/story would have gotten a bit of a mulligan. If you're going to cut away from cool monster stuff (and when Godzilla was onscreen, he was awesome), you'd damn well better have some engaging stuff for the audience to latch on to and care about.

So, the characters (pretty much all) were one of three main problems with the movie. But yes, absolutely, Ford was the weakest link, and he's your main character. How different would those trailers and teasers been if the focus had actually been on Ford and not Joe Brody? Cranston's lines in them helped sell that movie big time.

Emperor GorillaGodzilla

Oct-06-2014 6:23 AM

Good points Gigan, but you do know that Ford isnt going to be a future installment character.

Gareth will most likely, follow the old Godzilla movie chain by changing the main cast in each film. Ford wont appear again due to the fan backlash.

 "...I hope they remember you."-Thanos

Goji

Oct-06-2014 6:46 AM

@gorilla...

You're too much.

“Give me where to stand and I will move the earth”.

Emperor GorillaGodzilla

Oct-06-2014 6:49 AM

What Alx?

You really think he will come back?

 "...I hope they remember you."-Thanos

Durp004

Oct-06-2014 6:51 AM

I found it extremely funny Ford was only there to disable the nuke, and the nuke never got disabled. That's like hiring a chef and burning the food anyway.

KoldWarKid62

Oct-06-2014 7:27 AM

Hopefully we're done with Ford. What more is there to tell? I'd like to see more of Serizawa and Vivien, and have their characters and Monarch fleshed out more. Here's hoping...

mr. ko

Oct-06-2014 7:59 AM

I really doubt they would have Ford in the sequel. If anything I could just see a small reference of him getting an award for bravery or something. 

Gojira2K

Oct-06-2014 8:07 AM

I have to agree with this a lot. Ford wasn't the best character.

"There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self." - Ernest Hemingway.

King_of_Zombies

Oct-06-2014 8:41 AM

I like Ford, I feel identified with him and I hope to see him in the sequel.

Daikaiju Danielle

Oct-06-2014 10:13 AM

Thank you for this, Gigan! I really dislike Ford in Godzilla 2014. A paperclip on a rice-cake is more interesting than his character. He could've been a very cool addition to the humans of Godzilla, but the writing shackled the potential for Ford.

 

I'm not saying that the Toho Godzilla characters are perfect either, but at least they were developed enough for me to care about them.

 

 

"Daddy's home- cake every night,"

DarkChief

Oct-06-2014 1:00 PM

Time for a different opinion!, I actually understand why some people watch Ford like very bad characte... but, damn, he lost his parents and a soldier, He should not show much feeling.

Ok, kill me now but... I would like his return in the sequel.

InstinctiveGigan

Oct-06-2014 1:29 PM

@Darkchef Ha, no. It's perfectly fine, I don't hate Ford, I just want massive improvement. Like I said, having a dark backstory doesn't excuse his lack of character. If he's a tough, bruting soldier that hides his emotions, show that through character interactions. 

Again, the few interactions we get are great. But Ford just follows orders and makes small talk the whole journey. He needs to interact with, let's say, another soldier to show us why he's so silent. That there's more to him. You can't just come up with the excuse that "oh, he's a soldier, he's supposed to act like that", the characters are supposed to tell us that through their actions.

Show, don't tell. If they are bringing Ford back, all I ask, is more characterization. ;)

Huge-Ben

Oct-06-2014 1:30 PM

*speechless*

http://hugeben.deviantart.com/  check out my gallery of Godzilla artwork! Follow me on [email protected]

InstinctiveGigan

Oct-06-2014 1:34 PM

BBB! Wazzup! Also, speechless good or bad? haha

Huge-Ben

Oct-06-2014 1:35 PM

^Speechless as in wtf?

I mean quite honestly, i could care less for ford's character. Bryan cranston should have lived longer. *Sigh*

Oh well, i hope to god that the sequel delievers more hanging on the edge of your seat excitement though. :)

http://hugeben.deviantart.com/  check out my gallery of Godzilla artwork! Follow me on [email protected]

JosephCronos

Oct-07-2014 2:34 PM

Well i've got to admit that i feel a little bit related with Ford , i mean i lost my mom at a young age , so i know how hard is that and i ran away from the past just like Ford did , but like Joe said : "You can't keep running away , and son you can't bury this in the past". I like to believe Ford's character goes like this : A terrible tragedy hits him when he was still a kid with the years he tries to deal with it as he watches how his father starts to be consumed by that tragedy and he slowly starts to escape from all that , he has been running away from the past , but now that past just found him and it's pulling him back again , he lets himself being pulled back just to discover that this horrible past he has been running away from its covered with secrets and my god those secrets are colossal , after that he has to go trough a lot of things , his father dies by the claws of one of those secrets .. just like his mom , he has to deal with the idea that those secrets are roaming free around the world and above that his family its in the middle of those colossal secrets , he doesn’t know what to do , he just wants to go home with his family to keep them safe  and after a twisted turn of faith ( Hawaii’s Reveal/Showdown scene) he just ends up trusting humanity ( The Army) and to make it worst he trusts his family to humanity ( “I’m gonna be at the hospital by sunrise , then I’m gonna get you and sam out , the military has a plan to deal with these things …I’m coming to get you both , okay?”)  … like if humanity knows what to do with these colossus (The Arrogance of man is thinking nature its in our control … and not the other way around)  …  at the end he ends up facing with these secrets , with his past and of course facing the King to do what humanity failed to do (Arrogance) , to protect his family to look for them and keep them safe … whatever it takes.    

That's the way i think Ford's character goes , but i agree that Borenstein's kinda got lost and ended up trying to make Ford look .. cool, so yeah like you said Ford has potential but it just needs to be developed , i also liked the other characters , specially Serizawa and Graham i also liked Elle a lot she was exactly that : a mother trying to protect her child but at the same dealing with the safety of others and not having any idea where her husband is and she tries to hold it up together so in that way she won’t make her child feel worried , sad , or scared … can you imagine how terrifying had to be for Elle and all people that were under a pile of debris to hear Godzilla's ROAR at the end , or just to hear the MUTOS and Goji fight? or just for Elle to know that there was a confrontation with a colossal creature on the bridge and that there were a lot of buses there and that her child was in one of those buses? … I just hope that Borenstein steps up his work in the next one.

P.D : Sorry to write a wall of words xD      

Jamaal

Oct-16-2014 1:51 PM

Excellent, thoughtful, and well-written post, Instinctivegigan.

I would agree with the poster who would see the next installment focus on Serizawa, Graham and Monarch. There's a lot of material to be mined there, IMHO. There was a lot of convenience involving Lt. Brody as far as the plot is concerned. He seems to have been a kind of monster magnet, if you will. It appears that a decision was made to make Godzilla as a vehicle for Anthony Taylor-Johnson. Was it due to demographics? I'm not at all familiar with his other work, so I'm guessing here. I was intrigued by the exposition carried and offered by Dr. Serizawa and Dr. Graham. Their interaction with Admiral Stenz felt real. I hope they return.

Your point about his interacting with other characters was spot on. Lt. Ford was at his best when confronting his father in Japan about his 'research.' "What are you doing?" "I don't think so." "In a quarrantine zone!" Taylor-Johnson was good at these moments. Conflict with some of the other personnel over whether to disarm the bomb or move it would have added tension and an element of danger to the climax in San Francisco. When the casing couldn't be removed and another officer, the one who asked at the briefing if there was a Plan B, yelled that it had to be moved, Brody could have confronted him with the other soldiers taking sides. They wouldn't have to have fought, but we would have had a crisis of sorts amongst the people responsible for disarming a nuclear weapon while giant monsters were fighting mere blocks away. 

Jamaal

Oct-16-2014 1:51 PM

Excellent, thoughtful, and well-written post, Instinctivegigan.

I would agree with the poster who would see the next installment focus on Serizawa, Graham and Monarch. There's a lot of material to be mined there, IMHO. There was a lot of convenience involving Lt. Brody as far as the plot is concerned. He seems to have been a kind of monster magnet, if you will. It appears that a decision was made to make Godzilla as a vehicle for Anthony Taylor-Johnson. Was it due to demographics? I'm not at all familiar with his other work, so I'm guessing here. I was intrigued by the exposition carried and offered by Dr. Serizawa and Dr. Graham. Their interaction with Admiral Stenz felt real. I hope they return.

Your point about his interacting with other characters was spot on. Lt. Ford was at his best when confronting his father in Japan about his 'research.' "What are you doing?" "I don't think so." "In a quarrantine zone!" Taylor-Johnson was good at these moments. Conflict with some of the other personnel over whether to disarm the bomb or move it would have added tension and an element of danger to the climax in San Francisco. When the casing couldn't be removed and another officer, the one who asked at the briefing if there was a Plan B, yelled that it had to be moved, Brody could have confronted him with the other soldiers taking sides. They wouldn't have to have fought, but we would have had a crisis of sorts amongst the people responsible for disarming a nuclear weapon while giant monsters were fighting mere blocks away. 

Sci-Fi King25

Oct-16-2014 2:40 PM

This was very well written Gigan! I agree; Ford was really boring and emotionless in the film. I wouldn't mind seeing him in the sequel, but only if he was better written.

Forum signatures are always so hard to come up with...

 

Panthalassan

Oct-18-2014 8:25 PM

Great insights IG! I think part of the problem comes with killing off Joe Brody. They had set up a relationship that needed to be repaired, and should've tried to make that one of the arcs of the movie. Ford starts off estranged from his father, perhaps blames him for surviving when his mother doesnt, and through this adventure the two of them reconcile. Because really, the only other arc we have is the "I just wanna get home to my family", which is just not enough. We know he's gonna make it; what, is his family gonna die? Is he not gonna make it back to San Francisco? The stakes just aren't that high.

And you're absolutely right about him not interacting with anyone. Perhaps they wanted him to be more of a blank slate, more of an avatar for the audience to see the movie through. But maybe situations like the bridge scene with the MUTO or with the nuke in SF could've had more tension with some additional character interactions; arguing with the soldiers about the nuke, joking with the soldiers on the train; something to help us feel like these are real people with real lives.

Panthalassan

Oct-18-2014 8:38 PM

Also yes about the contrivance bit, you could almost say that in this movie, without Ford the whole world would've been destroyed. The soldiers just forgot about that nest! The nuke blowing up 20 miles offshore certainly wasn't going to take care of that problem.

I'm just realizing now, they had a goldmine of tension there. "Should we leave the nuke and destroy the nest, but as collateral ourselves and san francisco? Or should we move it and hope we find a way to deal with the 10000 baby mutos?" Missed opportunity. 

But anyways. Ford ended up being savior of Godzilla (by distracting the mother muto, blowing up her nest), savior of San Francisco (my setting that nuke carrying boat out to sea) and savior of humanity (by eliminating probably extinction in destroying the nest). Part of this I believe has to do with the insistence that we see these monsters from characters' perspectives; they wanted a more subjective movie and that means they had to stretch believability by putting the characters physically in the middle of every big event. Admirable to adhere to a set philosophy, but in this case it is actually to a fault.

Panthalassan

Oct-18-2014 8:42 PM

That said, I would be happy to see Ford down the line as a grizzled nuke expert with "experience dealing with MUTOs", maybe more of a supporting/cameo role.

Smaugzilla

Jan-23-2015 11:25 AM

In a nut shell, I think the character of Ford Brody was somewhat undeveloped to put it diplomatically. There could have been a great deal more to his character. I would also like to point out that I'm not against Aaron Taylor-Johnson; I personally think he is a good actor, and he is still young so there is plenty of time for him to develop his skills. At the end of the day he is given a script and he has to adhere to it, even if he had the same facial expression throughout most of the film; one of bewilderment and uncertainty! lol 

 

Jamaal

May-07-2015 11:06 PM

With time, Taylor-Johnson's Ford Brody has grown in terms of appreciation with me. He's not the typical over-the-top action hero who's the main protagonist. He does heroic things, but they're understated, as is his performance. There are no great speeches, no dramatic pronouncements. Rather, we have a military man, a husband and father, a son who's lost both parents, confronted by answers to things that no one can comprehend. Lt. Ford seems stunned, a bit dazed, even when having to get about the business of finding and disarming a nuclear weapon mere blocks away from where giant monsters are fighting.  

This understatedness makes it easy to follow him on his journey across the Pacific. And Godzilla is a 'journey' film: you travel with it narrative-wise, and follow it, physically, from Japan to the American West Coast.

Taylor-Johnson's Lt.Ford is, for me, a character within reach, plausible enough to identify with and root for.

Durp004

May-08-2015 6:49 AM

I agree with Jamaal to some extent. Ford is very low key in the things he does. That makes his logical for the most part, but not necessarily human. 

 

The fact is the MUTOs havee ruined Fords life, they killed his mother, which in turn caused him to have a strained relationship with his father thinking he is a madman for most of his life. Then only after realizing his father was right all along, he dies as well. Now the MUTOs are endangering his wife and child with their nest in the city. Ford doesn't really ever seem like he has a personal vendetta against the MUTOs though. He destroyed the nest not because he wanted revenge but just because it was logical. I would have liked some fleshed out instances that make it clear how much he hates the MUTOs, how much they've done to ruin his life, and how much they threaten everything he has left, for all the time the MUTOs get it and the amount of times Ford runs into them directly, there could have been something. Literally right after it kills his dad he runs into it again and there's no sense of hatred there. I mean literally within probably 12 hours of his dad dying he sees it, and there's nothing. He could want to go to San Francisco to save his family but it could be made clear he has some underlying want to actually stop these monsters.

Jut really wasted potential to me that something like that wasn't ever really shown.

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