It’s been a long time since audiences had to experience the horrendous Ronald Emmerich and Tri Star pictures remake of the classic Japanese masterpiece “Godzilla”. 16 years in fact. 10 years since Japan’s last film “Godzilla: Final Wars”. So with the long absence of one of cinema’s greatest movie monsters, this one was met with a fair amount of excitement going into Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures new remake of the character, and also hopefulness regarding this new installment. With hope they wouldn’t repeat the mistakes of 98 version. The trailers have wowed us but yet still kept a lot very close to the chest, which is something the recent “Spider-Man” failed to do. All concerns and worries can be gladly be laid to rest with this newest remake. This is a smart action packed summer blockbuster that does have a few minor flaws and a beast that is surprising absent from most of the film, yet still delivers big when and where Godzilla moments come in some of the most crowd pleasing scenes that has come out in a while.
The trailers don’t give away much of the plot to the film. The film follows a young navy officer by the name of Ford Brody as he reconnects with his estranged father after a childhood accident several years earlier. When they discover a horrible secret that the government has been hiding that could threaten all of humanity. Only to then discover that that is not the only monstrous threat that is out there. The clock is ticking for mankind, as this threat has awoken.
It is very obvious that director Gareth Edwards and his team of filmmakers were influenced by Steven Spielberg. You’ll see a lot of moments that’ll remind you of “Jurassic Park” but the story is more influenced by Spielberg’s “Jaws”. The movie holds back on the monster for a very long time in the film, while it develops the characters. It tries harder to develop them more than standard disaster movie fare. The surprising shift of focus will turn off some viewers for others they may embrace it. The trouble lies is the human characters aren’t as interesting or compelling as the ones in Jaws. However through one actor’s performance gives enough meat on the bone of the human story to allow the audience to care for the human drama presented on screen.
That is former “Breaking Bad” star, Bryan Cranston. He isn’t in it nearly as much as the trailers would lead you to believe but the film makes the most of the actors talents, giving him sterling powerful and emotional scenes that will pack a punch within the opening 10 minutes of the movie’s start. His relationship with his son gives the story enough pathos for the audience to accept the movie’s new focus on his son played by “Kick Ass” star Aaron Taylor Johnson. Whom isn’t nearly as interesting but still a relatable character that people will care about. Without Cranston’s performance and chemistry with his co-star, the story could have very well became boring, and redundant.
There are a few more subplots in the film that involves several other human characters. One that involves Joe Brody’s wife played by Elizabeth Olson that exists as Brody’s motivation to do anything he can to stop the monsters at large. Although meant to serve as an emotional anchor for the audience it does become increasingly less important and forgotten that could have delivered a big emotional characters arc for Brody but settles for less. Still a nice little addition but could have better utilized.
Now on to the part where most people care about, the monsters. Specifically the main star Godzilla. As I said before there is a surprising lack of the creature in his title movie. But when he is on screen, it could be one of the best cinematic interpretations of the beast, ever. The special effects on Godzilla is outstanding! It blends so well with the world that is around him. His introduction is nothing short of memorable and several other moments where the theater I was attending was cheering and applauding. Then the last 20 minutes are incredible to watch. His fellow monster counterparts are also well made.
The creatures he fights are called MUTOS. Not previously seen in past entries of the franchise and make a great appearance. They do get more screen time then Godzilla and not nearly as memorable however still worthy monsters that are huge in scale. And, as seen in the trailers, has large wings and they eat nuclear waste as their form of nutrition.
As I mentioned before the special effects are incredible. Last year there were two films that missed a nomination for best visual effects at the Oscars that deserved it. “Man of Steel” and “Pacific Rim”, oddly both are Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures films, as “Godzilla” is. Of course there is still a lot of the year left but the effects in this film are some of the best around and will easily be in the conversation for best visual effects.
There is a few flaws here in the film as a whole, lack of Godzilla and sometimes the human story is not all it could have been. But regardless of those flaws there is a lot of enjoyment to be had that takes some inspiration from Spielberg and combines great performances from a human centric story with towering special effects that are award worthy. It features some easy crowd pleasing material that will have people clapping and applauding with a welcome return from one of history’s greatest movie monsters.