Godzilla Review: The King of the Monsters has returned

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Words can’t express the level of anticipation I have had for Gareth Edward’s film. I have numerous fond memories of Godzilla growing up, having watched Toho’s movies many times and could probably reenact them on stage in a one-man show. I vividly remember sitting in front of my grandmother’s old RCA TV watching TNT’s Monstervision. Whether he was a good guy or bad guy, Godzilla’s literal larger-than-life persona has had a profound impact on my childhood, and I think I speak for most fans when I say I couldn’t bare to watch another botched American remake. Which is why I am proud to say that I couldn’t be more happier with Gareth Edward’s rebirth of Godzilla.

The film establishes very early on that mankind has known the existence of Godzilla for quite sometime. It is only due to the cover up by the Monarch organization that the history of his existence has been made secret. In the early years of the Earth before man, many creatures much like Godzilla roamed around, feeding on its radiation. As the world changed, the lack of a nuclear food source forced the creatures to burrow deep into the ground near the Earth’s core, where most have remained dormant and have not been scene for centuries. During a routine excavation for plutonium in the Philippines, the crew awakened a creature inside a cavern that could potentially spell the end of mankind. Unprepared and ill-equipped to handle a threat of this magnitude, humanity’s only hope could be a legendary god among monsters who has not been seen for the last 15 years.

Godzilla is front in center in this thrill ride and is supported by a great cast that includes the likes of Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen. Watanabe and Johnson are the main characters that really drive the film. Watanabe plays Dr. Ichiro Serizawa, a scientist who has been searching for the legendary lizard for many years. As part of Monarch, Dr. Serizawa was the lead researcher that studied the very organism that was uncovered at the plutonium dig site. At the time of its discovery, the creature had actually burrowed its way out of the cavern and swam to the nearby Janjira reactor in Japan, where the creature began to feed on the reactor’s radiation, the very same reactor that employs Joesph Brody (Bryan Cranston) and Sandra Brody (Juliette Binoche). A freak “unexplained accident” at the reactor would ultimately intertwine these characters’ lives into something much bigger.

godzilla-bryan-cranston-aaron-tayor-johnson-636-38015 year’s later after the Janjira meltdown, Aaaron Taylor-Johnson plays the now grown-up son of Joe and Sandra Brody. A military man with a family of his own, Ford Brody and his father have become distant due to Joe’s obsession over the events of the Janjira meltdown. Ford travels to Tokyo to retrieve his father, who was caught trespassing in the now quarantined zone. During this trip, he has hopes that he can finally make his father give up his personal crusade for the truth of what really happened on that fateful day. But as Lieutenant Brody and the rest of the world will soon find out, Joesph is not as crazy as they think he is.

Bryan Cranston really steals the show in this movie, but sadly he is not the main character. This may be a bit of a let down for fans who have come to love his work, and I seriously think that this is the only weak point of the movie. As a fan of Cranston and Watanabe, I was really hoping for some epic scenes featuring the two highly-acclaimed actors. Sadly, it was not meant to be. There are still some great scenes in this film. Elizabeth Olsen has some key moments in the film that only allow her a few lines, but she does an exceptional job for the emotional scene.

For the most part, Gareth does a good job of balancing the human elements of the movie along with Godzilla. The earlier parts of the film set up our characters, all the while teasing the inevitable appearance of the King of the Monsters. During the Q and A after our screening of the film, Gareth said he was greatly influenced by films like JAWS and Jurassic Park, and you can clearly see that in this film. Take comfort in knowing that this is not Cloverfield, you do get to see Godzilla in this movie. Quite a lot actually, but Gareth does it in a way that is not overkill within the first hour. He builds to the kaiju showdown that he knows we all came to see, but it is done in a way that it doesn’t become stale. I think this is a problem that Pacific Rim had. Sometimes too much of a good thing is not that good at all, which is why each time Godzilla appears, it’s always presented in the most epic fashion.

Godzilla Hokmuto 5Now, let’s talk about what really matters…the monsters. For a man who came from doing a film for fifteen thousand dollars, basically by himself, four years ago, Gareth Edwards does an amazing job creating these larger-than-life creatures. The visual effects are topnotch and the sound perfectly matches its epic scale. As we’ve seen in other films, it can be quite a feat to create an original monster. I’ve often heard fans comparing the film’s MUTO to the Cloverfield monster. I think after viewing the film, fans will not hold the MUTO in such low regards. The creature is a great new kaiju so much so that there are two of them. Gareth Edwards cunningly applies much of the same thought that was behind the creation of the original 1954 Godzilla to this new creature. Using the MUTO’s need to literally feed on radiation, Edwards was able to make a subtle message about the danger of nuclear power and nuclear weapons. It keeps true to the essence of the original film while allowing Godzilla to be the film’s hero.

When it comes to the G man, this has to be one of my favorite incarnations of the character by far. He is not really the hero of the film, yet not really the villain. I remember reading about Toho’s reaction to the 1998 Matthew Brodick film. The Japanese monster movie studio was actually quite disappointed with the Roland Emmerich version of the character, specifically because their Godzilla ran away and hid from the military. They said that Godzilla would never run away; he’s a monster created from man’s mistake and an unstoppable force to be reckoned with. I’m glad to say that it looks like Legendary got the memo. In fact, it seems like Godzilla could care less about what we’re doing. In the few scenes that Godzilla does interact with the military, it looks like the big man is completely not affected by the attack put on by the military.

godzillaThis is by far the biggest Godzilla yet. He stands at a whooping three hundred and fifty feet of pure destruction. I’ve heard news about the supposed “Godzilla fat shaming,” and after seeing the film, I have to say you really don’t notice it. For the most part Godzilla looks, walks and talks like Godzilla. There is a key scene where Godzilla is walking away, and fans around the world will instantly recognize that classic iconic image.

This film could have easily been one of the biggest let downs of the year. Thankfully, it is not. Gareth Edwards has done what many had thought impossible, he made a great American Godzilla film. For old and new fans, Godzilla is a larger-than-life action packed thrill ride for the whole family that will leave you wanting more.

Rating: 5/5 Atoms
NR 5 Atoms - A

 

 

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Mike Villarreal
Mike Villarreal 1363 posts

Mike once killed a man with a plastic butter knife. True story. #ViolentGentlemen