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Sorry Spidey and Cap, you gotta step down because GODZILLA is set to pulverize everything in its way. Warner Bros unleashes this monster and director Gareth Edwards provides the world’s most famous creature with the film that is poised to be the new blockbuster Kaiju standard.

The Players:

Plot:

When a mysterious unseen force is unleashed, an epic series of events unfolds when a Japanese nuclear plant melts down. Joe Brody (Cranston) carries the weight of that  fateful day for the rest of his life as he lost his wife and over the years becomes obsessed with uncovering the truth. Flash forward to the future, his son Ford (Taylor Johnson) comes back from a tour of duty to his wife (Olsen) informing him that his father has been arrested for trespassing at the accident site. When Ford goes to collect his father, he ends up witnessing firsthand what has been kept under wraps when a monster breaks free. What follows is humanity’s race to stop the forces that have risen before civilization becomes a casualty.

The Good:

  • The Plot: In true Toho fashion it follows the disaster in the wake of battles of epic proportions. The Brody family serves their purpose as the way into the tale, the family that has lost a vital member due to these monsters. It is through their eyes and the eyes of civilians that we follow the threads of the movie. The humans may not be the stars but they are the ones who bear witness in the picture to the monsters and through them we feel the gravity of the situation as monsters rampage throughout the Pacific.
  • The Story: The original Gojira symbolized a fictional representation of the sentiments toward Hiroshima and the effects it had on a population. There is an homage to that but this Godzilla becomes an incarnation of natural disasters, a cautionary tale of the sort of things that happen that humanity is witness to. Cementing it in that makes the film accessible to a new generation that can connect with recent experiences around the world that while devastating showed the awe inspiring power of nature.
  • Monster Movie: At this point enough footage has been shown that reveals that Godzilla isn’t the only one romping about. It is a monster movie above all else, above the allusions and spectacle. It’s fun and scary to watch even before the monsters appear. It’s a slow burn reveal that is even teased when you think you’re gonna see it all but only catch glimpses through news coverage in the picture, which harkens to Jaws and Alien. The pay-off will have you clapping and cheering (you won’t be the only one). The fight scenes completely nail the Kaiju genre in ways other blockbuster films have yet to accomplish. It pulls it off and is now the bar.
  • Directing: Gareth Edwards conjures a world that while realistic is still a fantastical world of beasts. He does not lose the sense of wonder the original films evoked. His touch gives us shots of the action in a grand scale that sweeps the imagination away. It’s not a churned out whirlwind of gratuitous shots of action to action to action. He makes us earn the satisfaction of seeing the showdowns, it’s not just given to us like we’re used to and that is something that should be taken note of.

The So-So:

  • The Cast: If the movie was just about the story of the Brody family, this would be a bigger issue. They are in essence a sub plot to the huge conflict that occurs. However, the strongest performers are Cranston and Wantanabe. With the short amount of time both had on screen to make way for the big guy, they clued everyone in what they had at stake by use of slight exposition and by showing their motivations. It was the loving looks the morning Joe (Cranston) and his wife (Binoche) exchanged before the horror of the meltdown. Wantanabe’s look of discovery when he inadvertently unearths a creature like the one that in his youth took his family.  However the film follows for the most part Ford and his wife–sorta. The obstacles that Ford and his wife face don’t quite carry the same sort of weight as the stakes of the aforementioned and they have a kid. There was more focus on Ford than his wife, a nurse who also experienced more of the ground zero of the rampages than her husband. We got none of that. Ford was a military means to an end that we could have cared more about if there was more established with his relationship to his family and not just his dad. 

Overall:

Reboots often just go through the motions, Edwards breaks that cycle by giving us his film in great Toho fashion. Godzilla is a cinematic experience that gives a new generation the rush that pictures are supposed to give. Edwards pays homage to a world we know while making it feel new and like we’ve never been there before. The best Godzilla film in decades.

Grade: 9.5/10

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 Trailer: