Looking like a giant Tyrannosaurus Rex who has had a few too many herbivores to eat, cinema’s most famous monster, Godzilla, returns to our screens under the directorial guidance of Monsters’ Gareth Edwards. Starring Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston, Kick Ass star Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen, Edwards’ Godzilla is less evil plane-eater and more anti-hero in this fully modernised, edgy, yet somewhat imbalanced monster flick.
Joe Brody (Cranston) believes that the death of his wife, Sandra (Juliette Binoche), was no accident. Killed following a malfunction to the core of the power station they both worked at in Japan, Brody is adamant it was not an earthquake-induced tremor that killed his beloved. 15 years later, similar unexplained happenings are occurring at the now seemingly abandoned power station – and as the American scientist imagined, there is something strange going on that the Japanese authorities are determined to keep a secret.
Unlike Roland Emmerich’s 1998 flop, or several of its previous reboots and reimaginations, Godzilla is not the villain of the piece. In fact, quite the opposite; the dinosaur-like creature is given a God-like status – a restorer of the balance – against the real monsters: the nuclear power loving giant parasites. Death and destruction is still aplenty, but this monster movie is as much a race against time as it is a smash ’em up disaster-type blockbuster.
After the initial set-up of what happened 15 years previously, the film follows Brody’s son, Ford (Taylor-Johnson), as he joins the world’s fight against the parasitic monsters and his long-winded quest to get home to his wife, Elle (Olsen). Ford, who has just returned home from the army, joins the US military once again to help with the monster-hunting cause, with Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and his team of scientists, of whom have been tracking the monsters for years, adamant the army’s plans will not work.
The film attempts to be a character-driven affair – not common amongst monster flicks – but loses its most interesting character within half an hour. As soon as Cranston leaves the scene and the films focus turns to Taylor-Johnson, just like the audience’s enthusiasm, the film dies a little. From then on you get the feeling the movie is stuck in a cross-roads; where are we meant to focus our attention – the army boy or the monsters chasing each other? Luckily there is enough going on between the two competing storylines to keep the film relatively interesting, with impressive special effects, interesting power-source related themes and the odd big building being smashed to bits, that you can not help but at least moderately enjoy Edwards’ attempt.
Certainly a more intelligent, better structured affair than Hollywood’s last attempt at this classic tale, the new Godzilla has enough dramatic-zest, destruction, cheesy emotional pull, and most of all, an interesting, alternative spin on things, to keep the punters satisfied.