REVIEW: Godzilla back for 21st century battle

By Owen Yancher staff –

With the use of contemporary special effects and a character as epic as Godzilla, director Gareth Edwards has put together one monster of a new movie.

“Godzilla” loosely traces the adventure of Ford Brody (played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and his father Joe (played by Bryan Cranston) as they uncover secrets about the death of Ford’s mother, who died in a 1990’s nuclear disaster. Their adventure thrusts Ford into a colossal chase down of Godzilla, featuring a monumental battle in downtown San Francisco, with the threats of natural, physical, and nuclear catastrophes.

Despite the cheesy impression you might get from the film’s promotional commercials, the special effects in “Godzilla” are great; Godzilla himself is quite a spectacle. His black scales glitter magnificently in the moonlight, and he stands at least fifty stories tall. When Godzilla destroys massive buildings, it almost seems real as they topple to the ground.

The acting in the movie is satisfactory, but because the monster is the big draw, the script and direction leave room for greater character development. Aaron Taylor-Johnson doesn’t really fit his role as an army lieutenant and father of a five-year-old son; he appears somewhat young for the role, looking about twenty years old. His higher vocal range makes some of his serious statements seem slightly comical.

Cranston is known for his lead role in the AMC series “Breaking Bad”. He plays the role of Ford’s aging father formidably and it seems like every word he utters is rich with drama and consternation.

The monster, meanwhile, has quite a presence. Just the planting of his foot shakes the entire theater. His roars have a silent windup like a toddler about to release a scream, and Godzilla doesn’t disappoint. The timing of his distractions, which save some of the principal characters, is sometimes rather predictable. You have to smirk some, as the villain monster seeks and eats nuclear bombs like Otter Pops.

As more characters and conflicts are introduced, the setting begins to change. Some of the scenes take place in Japan, some in the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii…etc. The transitions were solid at first, but it got a bit confusing near the end of the movie. “Godzilla” is not an exceedingly complex movie, like “Inception” for example, however it was still difficult to follow the plot or understand the significance of some scenes.

Apart from Ford there isn’t really any major character development in “Godzilla”. Multiple people die and a lot of familiar landmarks are destroyed. The familiarity with the buildings and bridges however may be the hook the filmmakers were attempting to have on the viewers. The massive death toll and destruction that occurs is echoed with a recurring statement made by the supervising Japanese doctor (played by Ken Watanabe) who repeats, “Humans do not control nature, but nature controls us.”

Like him or lump him, the iconic star of the baby boomers’ monster movie era is undoubtedly back. One can only wonder if Rodan is lurking somewhere for another 50s’ monster remake.

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