the classic monster rebooted
Godzilla is back and thank the stars there is no sign of Roland Emmerich or Matthew Broderick. In the latest attempt to breath new life into this monster franchise Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures have turned to indie film director Gareth Edwards best known for low budget hit Monsters.
In this incarnation the humans in the story are aware of the existence of Godzilla and went to great lengths to try and eliminate him through what the public thought was a nuclear bomb testing programme. All is quiet for decades until tremors threaten a nuclear reactor in Japan (Fukushima anyone?). Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) faces a near impossible decision before the action jumps forward more than a decade with Joe convinced there is more to the tale than a natural disaster. His son, Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), is now a bomb disposal expert and is dragged back into his father’s obsessional life who is arrested in the quarantine zone surrounding the old nuclear plant. Unsurprisingly adventure ensues.
This film does a good job of burying the memory of Emmerich’s quite frankly ridiculous 90’s horror of a movie. Constant with his previous movie, Monsters, Edwards features the human characters and the monsters (and there are more than one) are times a backdrop to the human drama. I enjoyed the fact that the monsters are not overused. There is a lot of teasing. We see images of the monsters on tv sets, glimpses of Godzilla underwater, Godzilla’s tail swishing across the screen. But when monster time arrives it really arrives. The special effects are brilliant as whole buildings are demolished as monsters crash, bang, and whollop. There is a wonderful scene when military personnel parachute from the pack of a transport plane which shows the bravery of the men involved as they don’t hesitate to jump into the void of smoke and flame.
Mr Taylor-Johnson just about carries the film but don’t go in expecting a performance for the ages. I was just happy he wasn’t as bad as I first feared. Sadly Bryan Cranston’s time on screen is limited as he is a reassuring presence. There are many plot contrivances which seem to centre around ensuring Godzilla and Brody jnr are travelling in the same direction. There is also a toe curling scene when Godzilla and Brody jnr both look beaten down and find themselves staring into each others eyes like star crossed lovers.
This film bodes well for Edwards taking on his next big project which will be one of the Star Wars spin off movies. This is an above average summer blockbuster that puts Godzilla back on the map and establishes his role for future sequels. If they can assemble a better cast this movie could spawn some monster hits. Godzilla vs King Kong anyone?