Aaron Taylor-Johnson | Elizabeth Olsen | Ken Watanabe |
Bryan Cranston | David Strathairn |
We all know what happened when Hollywood first took the king of monsters on-screen back in 1998, and that didn’t go so well. It wasn’t until 14 years later, when Legendary Pictures decided to bring Godzilla back to life for a newer generation, with Monsters director Gareth Edwards at the helm. Edwards’ Godzilla is not only a feast for the eyes, but is also an interesting yet fresh take on the king of monsters that has a ‘Spielbergian’ twist to it.
Fifteen years ago, an ancient parasite that feeds on radiation has risen from its resting place. Hungering for more radiation, the creature turned to a Japanese nuclear power plant and the results were catastrophic. The disaster was covered up, but 15 years later, this creature has reemerged and is now wreaking havoc as humanity finds a way to put a stop to its rampage of destruction.
Plot Analysis: A -
I’d like to warn you before seeing this movie. If you expect this film to be this year’s “Pacific Rim”, you’re going to be very disappointed; you won’t get to see a lot of Godzilla as you might expect. You’ll find yourself being teased and left hanging whenever a fight scene happens, seeing just small glimpses of a fight that was built up heavily. To be honest, it could’ve used a bit more of Godzilla in the second act, especially after that grand entrance.
This take on the monster actually fits with the grounded tone the film promised in the trailers. Edwards’ version of Godzilla actually treats the monster the way Spielberg treated the shark in the movie Jaws and the dinosaurs in the movie Jurassic Park as well. There were visual references that might remind you of Jurassic Park, but the treatment given to the monsters was more like that of Jaws. Edwards’ monsters were portrayed as animals trying to survive; it’s not just a monster destroying a city because it can, it’s an animal trying to survive and adapt to a new habitat.
Unlike Hollywood’s past attempt in “Americanizing” Godzilla, the human characters weren’t necessarily “integral” to the plot even after the many times the film reminds you that you should care about them. This film does the opposite of that; the human characters do have a part to play in this grand scheme, and all of these characters come together at the film’s core, as they all try and figure out how to protect themselves from this monster and how they can try and stop it. Going back to the Jurassic Park comparison, the helpless human angle was well done, as we humans have no idea of fighting something bigger than us that we can’t logically understand (some pretend they do, so they just try to solve the problem with nukes).
The best word to describe this movie is “epic”. The best part of what made the human aspect work is that it made Godzilla believable; Edwards portrays the human perspective of the monsters effectively when it comes to filming, and it is the best way of showing the larger-than-life monsters on-screen. This really sells their massiveness and the destructive capabilities.
The action scenes - Oh, man…. The last 20 minutes of this movie were easily one of the best battle scenes I’ve seen in a while. I watched this with a small group of friends and we were like football fans watching the Superbowl as we saw Godzilla in a kind of action we haven’t seen him take part in for a long time.
Alexandre Daspalt provides the score for this film, and he composed an interesting mix of modern and old-school musical arrangements. The “nostalgic” score does add a lot to the suspense of the film and is quite fitting for a film such as this.
THE PERFORMANCES: A
Aaron Taylor-Johnson is the main lead, serving as a witness to all this destruction, but he was overshadowed by the rest of the cast. He had enough material to work with and did so with a serviceable performance, but unfortunately it was not enough to have a commanding presence. Unlike Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, who plays his father, carries the emotional weight of the movie flawlessly; it is unfortunate though that he was under-used in this film. A handful of the other characters also have enough compelling material to work with, which the rest of the cast handled perfectly, as they were played by the likes of Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, and David Strathairn.
In the end, Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla is one of the best examples of a Hollywood re-make. Not only that, it is also a remarkable homage to Spielberg’s early works (take that J.J. Abrams). It’s mostly everything a Godzilla movie should strive to be; it has human characters that you can care about, amazing visual direction, a story well put together, and action set-pieces that were deserving of applause. Probably the only thing lacking was Godzilla in his self-titled film. Godzilla’s on-screen rebirth has to be seen to be believed, especially in the largest screen and with the loudest sound possible – watching it in the IMAX 3D format was definitely worth my money.
THE PLOT: A
PRESENTATION: A +
THE PERFORMANCES: A -