With the inception of Gojira in 1954, the world was introduced to one of; If not the most iconic film monster of all time, and with that we were given a creature that represented the sheer terror and destruction of the god-like power put forth by the American atom bomb that leveled Hiroshima. Flash forward sixty years and upwards of forty times on film, and the King Of The Monsters has risen from the deep once again in Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla.
Now, ever since the teaser poster was released at Comic-Con two years ago along with the buzz of the screened teaser footage that apparently stole the show; we’ve been quivering with suspense or maybe apprehension at the idea that Godzilla would be gracing the screen again, especially after Roland Emmerich’s much maligned attempt at reviving the creature in 1998. However, after the insanely epic first trailer that was released; Edwards had us all chomping at the bit and clamoring for he and Legendary studios to simply: Take. Our. Money. It worked, as the film earned an estimated $93 million on its opening weekend, and garnered a green light from the studio for a sequel.
Having said all of that, I was able to screen Godzilla the other night (in 2-D) and while I enjoyed the overall experience, the film had its faults. I’ve spilt this article into two separate categories that examine five things Gareth Edwards and Co. did right, and five ways the disaster epic should have been better. I’ll give you the good news first.
5. The Scale
Godzilla’s scope and scale really match and almost exceed the titular character’s physical prowess. In the film, Gareth Edwards takes us on a global journey from Japan to San Francisco throughout the 2 hour experience that really makes use of everything that it can on-screen.
Whether it’s our hero Ford Brody narrowly escaping a hidden scientific installation when things go horribly wrong in Japan, or making use of the claustrophobic nature of a tramcar at an airport while the immense and savage events outside of it rage on in a dance of fire and debris; the film straps you into your seat and actually makes you feel like you are along for the ride next to our characters. The resulting effect is that the filmmakers succeed in planting you with the characters on the screen that are just as helpless as you to the events that are occurring.
4. Bryan Cranston as Joe Brody
Having the acting talent of Bryan Cranston in this project helped it a lot. Coming off of the success of the highly acclaimed Breaking Bad series, where he delivered a breathtakingly brilliant performance as the anti-hero Walter White, Cranston enters Godzilla and gives a similar effort as the father of our hero Ford; Joe Brody.
The film opens with the Brody family fifteen years in the past, where little Ford is trying to surprise his father with a Happy Birthday sign with his mother, Sandra Brody played by Juliette Binoche. Seemingly the ever busy Joe cannot be bothered and Ford runs off to school, leaving his mother and father to drive to work at the power plant together. The scene sends them into a rapidly evolving situation where an earthquake begins to strike the plant and due to Joe Brody’s order, his wife Sandra was below and inside the Nuclear Plant as the ground was violently shaking.
The entire scene is acted perfectly and with great emotion as husband and wife desperately race toward each other while doom closes in on them. To say that Cranston’s entire performance in the film was anything but spectacular would be short changing the man who has become one of the best actors in film and television today.
3. The Story
The overall story of the film was intriguing and remained close to the original Gojira story in the fact that Godzilla’s origins were nuclear. This time around it is explained to us that Godzilla wasn’t a result of American nuclear testing, but he was awakened around the same time that nuclear submarines were kicking around in the Pacific, and all of those tests we’ve heard and learned about were really an effort to kill the mammoth beast that the world secretly knew lived in our depths. The new story provides a fresh take on the classic origins of Godzilla and provides modern audiences with a new foundation to launch them into the future with a new King of the Monsters.
2. The Action
What is the first thing you have in mind when you hear the word Godzilla? Probably a huge explosion, or a building being reduced to rubble, or maybe glowing nuclear breath? Hopefully not Matthew Broderick. In any case, what you expect when walking into a Godzilla movie is action and disaster, and boy, do you have both.
In the film, the action never disappoints unless it stops. We are treated to a visual spectacle when you enter the fray with these beasts, and I think it should be no secret now that our new bigger, badder, Godzilla will be fighting another gigantic beast in the film. The scenes where the monsters come to blows is delightfully satisfying and leave you wanting more every time the action cuts away to our human characters, who are dealing with the chaos on the ground,( or sometimes air), level. Herein lies one of my main gripes with the film, but we shouldn’t get negative just yet.
Oh, yes. Godzilla returns in titanic glory on the big screen and my, oh my. Doesn’t he look splendid? With all of the epic looks that we’ve received of the titular character in the trailers and all of the photos that have been released, we might have been spoiled a little bit, but as he is revealed in dramatic fashion in full view once again on the silver screen: he looks perfect.
Gareth Edwards and his Visual Effects team have done an extremely good job in delivering a modern Godzilla that is sure to aesthetically please everyone from newcomers to traditional fans alike, and with looks aside; Godzilla packs a vicious punch too.
The fight scenes are teased as we weave through the story with Ford Brody, and when they are given screen time; the beasts brawl as you would imagine two herculean creatures would inside of natures domain. The natural and gritty style of the battle scenes speaks to the actual character of Godzilla, who represents the balance and unpredictable destructive force of nature this time around, instead of his traditional metaphorical roots of being the embodiment of the Hiroshima bomb.