Over the years, we have all become accustomed to the fact that most of the blockbuster movies produced now are often bereft of originality, and fall under the ugly “reboot/rehash/retelling” branding. Be it a timeless cult classic brought into the now, or maybe a film that hasn’t even entered a ten year lifespan and demands a overhaul, our collective voices have often emitted a groan and a sonic boom of a million heads thrust into disappointed hands. Yet there was perhaps one franchise sorely missed from screens. We missed the King of the Monsters.
Cast minds back to 1998. Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin released an American version of Godzilla, which was similar to their own Independence Day but with a giant lizard replacing alien invaders to cause mayhem. A bad screenplay mixed with ropey CGI caused the planned trilogy to be shelved after reviews proved more disastrous than the on screen action. Original studio, Toho, had their revenge in their own Final Wars by Godzilla killing off Americanzilla in about two minutes to the amusement of a legion of fans. Final Wars was also the last time Godzilla was in a movie, and here we are, ten years later with a new instalment. Director Gareth Edwards , who released his one man workhorse indie project Monsters in 2010, was offered to helm based on his film’s success. It’s a positive as Edwards delivers fresh perspectives and ideas you don’t normally see with blockbuster movies, choosing to tell the story from the viewpoint of humanity rather than pitting monster versus monster with no coherence. Bryan Cranston plays Joe Brody, an engineer at a Japanese nuclear plant, who has been researching unusual seismic activity which could cause serious harm if not investigated further. After a devastating accident, Brody is sure there is a conspiracy and the government is hiding something mysterious. His son Ford, a bomb deployment expert played by Kick-Ass‘ Aaron Taylor-Johnson, is sent to Japan to bring his father home and to put an end to his apparent lunacy. Until another disaster occurs and the truth is revealed.
You’re hiding something…
Instantly seeing Cranston spew forth his beliefs reminds me of a Spielberg protagonist. This could easily be Roy Neary from Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, hell bent on revealing what he believes to be true where no one will listen. It’d be fair to say that Edwards has also drawn a few tricks from Spielberg in terms of bringing the monster, with tantalising teases here and there until the big pay off that will send you reeling. It worked for Jaws, right? The supporting cast comes along with Elisabeth Olsen, as Johnson’s wife who despite not being seen much, delivers a lot of heart. Also starring Ken Watanabe, as Dr Ichiro Serizawa, who has studied the history of the monster since the reveal in the opening credits. Watch those closely, they’re not only brilliantly crafted but clue you in to previous events very quickly. Some people could find the story to be a bit of a slow burner, and find out that they’re not getting enough monster bang for their buck. The pace might seem to plod along but it’s all crucial to the plot. Patience is indeed a virtue and the final act will leave you with a lasting impression for some time to come. Therefore, Edwards’ take on Godzilla is a very emotional and grounded monster movie, with an old school mentality and is driven by character more than the beast itself, and it works.
Worth a watch?
Absolutely. Let’s remember there’s a generation now that will be unfamiliar with Godzilla so this serves as a fantastic introduction, whilst at the same time, catering for the fans with amazing monster action and a few great nods to the olden days. It’s visually breathtaking, even without it’s giant star in view. Ensure you see this on the biggest screen you can as it’s the right thing to do, and hope that after this rebirth, there is plenty more to follow. Godzilla is out now in cinemas. The reviewer bought their own tickets.