Genre – Sci-Fi/Monsters
Director – Gareth Edwards
Cast – Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Wantanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Sally Hawkins
Alluring element – Giant monsters, classic homage, family storyScorecard: Plot – 8 Acting – 9 Representation of Genre – 9 Cinematography – 9 Effects/Environment – 10 Captivity – 8 Logical consistency – 7 Originality/Creativity – 7 Soundtrack/Music – 8 Overall awesomeness – 9
I went to the movie theater this past Saturday expecting to see giant monsters destroying cities and each other. I was not disappointed in with that aspect. What I didn’t expect was the family story that made Godzilla more than just another kaiju smashfest. It’s a monster movie with heart. It actually takes close to an hour to even properly see the giant lizard.
Admittedly, during some parts of the movie, I found myself saying “Enough with this! Bring me giant monsters!” By the end of the movie, I realized that I was wrong with this sentiment. Godzilla is brought to us very much from the point of view of someone on the ground. We’re not meant to just sit back and watch terrible beasts duke it out in a random cityscape. The director, Gareth Edwards, wants to put you in San Francisco and makes you understand the real consequence of what’s going on. If you’re looking for Pacific Rim, which is awesome in its own right, you’re not going to find it here. This is more of a movie with monsters, rather than a monster movie. Gareth Edwards has done this very well before with Monsters; go rent it if you haven’t seen it.
My biggest gripe with the king of monsters is the severe under-utilization of Brian Cranston. For what you do see of his performance it is intense and heart felt. Instead of Cranston, the story follows Aaron Taylor-Johnson, best known for playing Dave Lizewski from Kick-Ass. Johnson plays Cranston’s son, who is trying to get back home to his wife and son after bailing his father out of jail in Tokyo. I’m not typically a fan of Aaron Taylor-Johnson, but I have to say he did well. I pulled for him to get back to his family.
Ken Wantanabe was solid, as usual. He gives the characters a little bit of a terrible monster history lesson. Oh yeah Godzilla, and similar creatures, have been known about since the 1940’s. He plays a very stoic and soft-spoken scientist who has been studying these types of creatures for decades. Like Cranston, Wantanabe does not receive much screen type but still delivers a strong performance. His character is fairly forgettable though.
Now to the big guy. Yes, Godzilla appears to have been preparing for hibernation and has put on a few pounds. When you first see his elephant like foot come down it’s comical and exciting at the same time. It looks a little goofy but you realize quickly that you’re finally going to get the big reveal, and it’s not disappointing. I’m also very happy they stayed with tradition and kept Godzilla as the good guy in this movie. When he goes claw-to-claw with the other creatures, it’s a blast, and when you see the energy slowly build up starting in the tip of his tail the anticipation for giant laser/blue fire is palpable.
The FX team behind Godzilla did an excellent job at giving real emotion to the creatures. At certain points I really felt bad for the creatures designed as the villains. Godzilla is probably not the movie most people were expecting, and that’s a good thing. It’s deeper than what moviegoers were looking for, at least more than I was looking for. The length that the story goes to pleasantly surprised me. There were times I felt like they were just teasing me with the taste of a couple 300 foot monsters about to tear each other limb from limb; but once I realized what was going on I was satisfied with everything I got. Godzilla fights with serious brutality.
All photos belong to Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures