REVIEW: Godzilla (2014)
People complained about the massive wide scale destruction in Man of Steel, well tough because it appropriately pales in comparison to the utter havoc accompanying the return of The King of All Monster movies! Gareth Edwards’ take on Godzilla is a visual feast that is sure to satisfy the monstrous appetites of all viewers, leaving a path of destruction and what has to be an innumerable body count in its wake.
The terrible taste of the 1998 Godzilla feature is washed away from the outset in a sweeping tidal wave, clearing the way for this much leaner (despite its running time), more focused and ferocious installment. While this film is not a response to the fears of nuclear fallout and the Hiroshima bombings, the theme of nuclear proliferation serves as the backdrop of this monster movie/natural disaster hybrid. The filmmakers weave historical occurrences throughout, tying nuclear tests of the past into a conspiratorial cover-up that comes to light on an epic scale. Godzilla is implied to be a force of nature here to restore balance to a world ravaged by the hubris of humankind.
The character moments are just enough. They provide the right amount of interaction and screen time to make you care but don’t stick around long enough to wear out their welcome. The filmmakers wisely establish an early bond between viewers and Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston), a former physicist still haunted by events form fifteen years ago that ripped away the woman he loved. Now estranged from his son, Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), Joe’s passionate hunt for the truth behind an incident at the nuclear facility where he once worked has driven him to the brink of madness. Ken Watanabe’s turn as Dr. Serizawa, once again defies the expected trope of “Dr. Science Exposition.” His Serizawa is firmly invested in the science yet motivated and propelled by his curiosity to learn more about Godzilla.
Lightly playing upon themes of the misunderstood monster the meat of the film almost unravels akin to a horror film, teasing viewers with hints and glimpses of the monster, paving the way for a magnificent reveal of Godzilla. The appearance of Godzilla is spot on, owing more to the days of an actor in a rubber costume than the salamander-esque thing that caused so much trouble for Matthew Broderick. The visual effects team have crafted the most beautiful monster to grace film screens, this is truly how Godzilla was meant to be seen.
The only drawback to the film actually is strangely also a plus. Reminiscent of Jaws, the slow burn of the impending monster attack is interspersed with the human characters running for their lives or attempting to prepare a counter-attack. This measured pace works, providing viewers several moment to take in the sense of the scale, perspective, and sheer terror that comes from having to run from a monster and collapsing buildings. These cutaways to the human characters pull viewers away from the main action, causing a build-up in anticipation for Godzilla’s next moments on screen, gratefully, whenever Godzilla is shown it is well worth the wait!
The film’s finale delivers what every fanboy has been dreaming about since the film was first announced, a battle of epic proportion that Pacific Rim would be envious of. The rollercoaster ramps up, takes viewers on an exhilarating thrill ride, and pulls into an ending that is exactly what it needs to be. While not as emotionally deep, this film will still leave you with feelings of awe and wonder similar to what Steven Spielberg once inspired with his early films.
Godzilla is back, this is the King of All Monsters the FanBros deserve!