Godzilla Almost Gets It Right
Godzilla is a reboot of perhaps the most famous monster film series of the 1950’s and 60’s. It is directed by Gareth Edwards (best known for the 2010 film Monsters), with a screenplay by Max Borenstein (Swordswallowers and Thin men) and stars Aaron-Taylor Johnson as Ford Brody, Ken Watanabe as Dr Ishiro Serizawa, Bryan Cranston as Joe Brody, Elizabeth Olsen as Elle Brody, Carson Bolde as Sam Brody and Juliette Binoche as Sandra Brody.
There is a lot to like about this film. The design of Godzilla is spot on. The scale and feeling of power is conveyed very well on screen. When he unleashes his fire on his opponent towards the end of the film, the 7 year old inside me wanted to jump out of my seat.
Godzilla’s foes are called M.U.T.A.’s (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) and are giant insect like creatures that crave radiation to grow. They literally chomp down on nuclear weapons like candy. One of the driving plot devices of the film is that there are two of these creatures that are seeking each other out so that they might breed. One of my nitpicks is despite this established plot point , the female is already carrying a egg sack with hundreds of potential little monsters.
The human heroes of the film are Dr. Ishiro Serizawa and the various members of the Brody clan. If you are expecting Bryan Cranston’s character to be the main focus of the film then you have placed too much faith in movie trailers. He is the patriarch of the Brody clan (a tribute to the ever present Brody family of Jaws fame) and has the first encounter with the devastation these monsters can inflict. He provides exposition before he is shuffled off this mortal coil and his son, Ford, does his best to get back to his family who are in the direct path of the monsters. This is classic set up material for your classic movie hero who ultimately saves the day, etc. The unusual thing about Godzilla is that Aaron-Taylor Johnson’s character has got to be the most ineffective hero in movie history. He spends almost the entire film as a powerless observer. He manages to take care of the problem that hundreds of eggs hatching might create, but completely fails at the one thing the movie has been building about his skills (ordinance specialist).
His wife, Elle, as played by Elizabeth Olsen has got to be the poorest decision maker on the planet. At every turn, her decisions place her husband, son or herself directly in the path of these creatures.
Despite all these failings I still enjoyed Godzilla. The fight scenes are fun to watch (even though you might get tired of seeing them in slo mo every time). The Godzilla roar is absolutely bone rattling when heard in an IMAX theatre with their sound system. The sound track by Alexandre Desplat is one of the most outstanding things about the entire film. Great use of Japanese tribal drums, hints of the original Godzilla theme and incredible attention to the creation of atmosphere and pacing. The look of the film is outstanding and if you don’t pay too much attention to the dialogue, then you can have a good time.
I hope the film does well enough to justify a sequel with a better writer at the helm.
I give Godzilla a C.