Cert: 12A Runtime: 123 mins Director: Gareth Edwards Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Wantanabe, Kate Olson, Sally Hawkins, Juliette Binoche and Bryan Cranston
The arrogance of men is thinking nature is in their control and not the other way around. Let them fight
Godzilla is one of the most iconic monsters off all time, from it’s humble yet political beginnings in 1954 to the disaster of Crapzilla in 1998. We now are witnessing the first real Americanization of this foreign film franchise. Gareth Edwards for me was the correct choice for this film. He made Monsters back in 2010, from then the sky was the limit for him Warner Brothers gave him an opportunity of a life time. The beast looks incredible and he has a stellar cast including Ken Wantanabe, Bryan Cranston and Juliette Binoche. Could this re-boot bring Gojira back to life?A devastating catastrophe engulfs Japan’s Janjira nuclear power plant in 1999. Fifteen years later, US physicist Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) remains convinced that a natural disaster was not responsible. He believes there’s been a high-level cover-up. His quest for the truth reunites him with his Navy Lieutenant son, Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Among those drawn into joining their mission are Ford’s wife Elle (Elizabeth Olsen) and military commander Admiral Stenz (David Strathairn). Japanese scientist Daisuke Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) quickly recognises that man’s abuse of nature is responsible for the mighty, radiation-enhanced Godzilla – and the terrifying foes against which it is now pitted!
Thankfully, my hopes were met and even slightly exceeded, and I emerged very satisfied from the cinema. Gareth Edwards’ new reboot is absolutely entertaining, ferocious, sometimes emotional… and is pure, unfiltered “Godzilla” fun. If you loved Monsters I have no doubt you will enjoy Godzilla. The cast is quite decent. Taylor-Johnson is a serviceable protagonist, although he comes across as a bit of a “Mary Sue” at times, which does make him boring in a few key scenes. Bryan Cranston as Joe Brody is a revelation, though. Even though his role isn’t quite as developed as we may hope. Torn apart by the loss of his wife’s life in a tragic accident, Joe is determined and dark, and gives the film a lot of depth early on. Elizabeth Olsen as Ford’s wife Elle, is a great addition to the cast. She pulls her weight and is able to give a nice sense of drama as she is caught-up in the chaos of the duelling monsters. And Ken Watanabe as Dr. Ichiro Serizawa, a man with knowledge of the creatures and what is happening, is a lot of fun. The use of the human experience is layered rather heavy in this film, but I genuinely liked this fresh aspect to a monster movie.
Godzilla is almost always brilliantly portrayed on-screen. His new, updated design is fantastic, serving as both a tribute to the iconic classic look, while doing something a bit new. Though don’t worry, he’s still clearly Godzilla… he’s just been brought into the 21st century in a big way, with some slight design changes that actually make him feel more real than ever before. The effects work that brings him to life is extraordinary, and even though he’s essentially just an animal, the film does a good job at making him seem like a real, living creature… you can sense what is going through his head through his body language and some great subtle facial expressions.Gareth Edwards has created a passion project for himself with Godzilla, this was his vision and he has created something truly unique. There are some amazing shots here, one of my favourites being the wide shot during the sky jump. You can tell he is a big Godzilla fan, his respect for the history is representative throughout. Hopefully we will see more from Edwards now, maybe an original project or even a Godzilla squeal. He truly was the right man for the job.
However, this film isn’t without some flaws. The biggest issue is that, well… Godzilla doesn’t appear on screen all too much. Which felt funny for a film called “Godzilla.” The film really seems to relish in its build-up to his repeated reveals, and it can get grating after a while. Although when he’s finally allowed to shine, it almost completely makes up for how much the film previously teased us. This is the old way of making monster movies, a slow build up and a big reveal. But I can’t see much 21St century audiences being so patient. I also felt that Taylor-Johnson’s lead character wasn’t quite as compelling as I might have hoped, causing a lot of the scenes between the human characters to be a little on the flat side. The script was rather weak in the second act, I drifted away a few times thinking of other things at this point. When the third act kicks in it had my full attention. All in all every film has it’s flaws, and it shouldn’t have to be an issue. But this is the nature of the beast I am afraid. It was fantastic to watch Godzilla back on the big- screen, and it’s a great relief to see him done justice in an American film.