One of the first movies my dad ever took me to as a child was Godzilla with Matthew Broderick and Jean Reno. I really don’t remember much except everything was green. But my Dad loved Godzilla. He has vintage posters up on his office walls and a toy not unlike the singing bass fish that has Godzilla’s face. When you press the button, the scream echoes through the house. So it was impossible to not become more interested in this stop-motion creature from the 1950s.
With this new version of Godzilla, I was actually quite excited. I normally don’t like the big blockbuster movies that come out in the summer time because they rely so heavily on computer graphics and not on the story-line (see Transformers or The Avengers), but I was excited to see this. I was/am a Breaking Bad fan, so all you had to tell me was Bryan Cranston was in it, and I was game.
The film opens with Cranston and his wife played by Juliette Binoche heading off to work in a nuclear power plant in Japan. Something terrible goes wrong causing the plant to implode leaving that part of Japan in a massive quarantine and Binoche dead. Fifteen years go by, and their son, Ford, has joined the military and started a life of his own, desperate to keep his life in Japan in the past.
But Cranston’s crazy behavior and determination to uncover a conspiracy drags Ford back to Japan when the past starts repeating itself. Ken Wantanabe, the token Asian actor for this film, is at the helm of this project which is revealed to be the resurrection of an insect-like monster. When it gets out of hand, an alpha monster is summoned from the depths of the sea to restore balance, Godzilla.
We do not actually get to see Godzilla until halfway through the movie, but I will say I’m extremely grateful we get to see him in his entirety. This isn’t the monster movie of yore where you get the implied danger like Cloverfield. When you have a massive budget of $160 million, I expect to see the whole banana, as it were.
I was so excited last year when Pacific Rim came out because I thought this would break the mold of monster movies, but I feel as though Godzilla did what Pacific Rim tried to do. You got to see the full monster fight scenes, but Godzilla kept the integrity of the originals without bringing in the Transformers element of the literal man versus machine that was in Pacific Rim.
The story-line was pretty thin. I didn’t much care for any of the characters or how their stories would end up. But the average movie-goer doesn’t see this movie for the deep and brooding story-line. And I did have to suspend my disbelief quite a bit for the trivial things, which I won’t go into as to not spoil anything. But there were a few times my husband and I looked at each other like, “really?”
What I did enjoy most about the movie was you got to see the fight sequences or the monsters in general through the eyes of the people. So a lot of shots were through windows, or cracks in doors, etc. It made it feel more realistic and scary. But you still got to see a lot of monster action out in the open, which I appreciated. If this is a world where computer graphics and budgets rule all, then I want to see what my money gets me. But also, they used the original sound effects from the first movies. The familiar sounds of Godzilla rang through my childhood mind as I was swept up in the action of the movie not caring one bit about the contrived family theme or the flaming train on a doomed bridge.
I will add something rather geeky to this entry and say, my new film hero is Gareth Edwards, the director. This man has an amazing story. He competed in a 48 hour film festival and won. This got him some attention in the sum of a couple hundred thousand pounds to do Monsters—a low budget monster/alien movie. And then he was handed Godzilla. What a story and leap from a 48 hour festival to a multi-million dollar budget movie. Quite inspiring and astounding.
I would not recommend seeing this in 3D. It didn’t add anything to the experience, but I wouldn’t do it any other way than IMAX. The sheer size of the monsters lends to it perfectly, and you might be cheapening your experience if you don’t do them justice.
Overall, I really enjoyed this movie when I set my expectations for a summer popcorn blockbuster. I was “properly whelmed” as it were.
3.5 out of 5 stars