Posted: June 5, 2014 in Movie Reviews

In Gareth Edwards' blockbuster remake of the classic original, Godzilla proves that he is indeed the tyrant lizard king.

In Gareth Edwards’ blockbuster remake of the classic original, Godzilla proves that he is indeed the tyrant lizard king.

Big budget monster films seem to be a resurgent trend these days, with various directors and film studios wanting to add their own artistic flair to the overdone genre. It all started in 1933 with King Kong and has over the past 80 years become a popular story type, most recently with Pacific Rim. But despite all the rehashing and re-envisioning over the decades, it appears that the big monster films still have a bit of potential left.


Summary: (No spoilers)
In the event of recurring major seismic activity, seismologist Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston—–Breaking Bad) tries to convince his superiors that the tremors are not earthquake-related, but rather something else bigger and far more devastating. As the years progress and the seismic activity worsens, Brody’s concerns become apparently real as a pair of enormous monsters—–the Mutos—–rise from hiding and begin destroying cities in Japan and then San Francisco in search for radiation, the source that they thrive on.

As no man-made weapon can harm them, the government and scientist Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe—–Inception, The Last Samurai) discover that the only way to stop the oncoming threats is Godzilla, a creature that the U.S. government tried to exterminate in the 1950s with atomic bombs. With Brody’s military son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson—–Kick Ass) aiding with the ongoing fight against the skyscraper-sized monsters, all humanity can do is stand back and watch two titanic forces of nature battle to the death.


Godzilla is not your standard, throwaway remake. Even though it’s not completely revolutionary nor in any way a game-changer, there are still enough classic moments and heart-pounding depictions of devastation to more than merit its existence. There were hardly any moments—–in fact, practically none—–that made you scoff at its mediocrity and lack of genuine, heart-felt conflict (yes, conflict can be heart-felt if the audience is allowed to feel some sort of remorse for those engulfed in the conflict).

The film primarily follows Ford Brody as he travels abroad hunting down the invading monsters, while his wife and child are at home in the midst of devastation. This plot element may not be wholly original, but it’s poignant nonetheless. One thing that can be stated with assurance is that Godzilla is a human story. It’s a monster flick, yes, but it’s first and foremost a film dealing with humanity in dire situations. Let that be noted.

godzilla_Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson

But, on the negative side, Godzilla is such a human story that you repeatedly wish for more of what you’ve come to see: Godzilla. It’s along the lines of what most people were complaining about in films like Iron Man 3 and The Dark Knight Rises—–more Iron Man, more Batman. But the difference is that this is not the third Godzilla film where we’ve had two films already to thoroughly enjoy the character. There are several times throughout the film’s course where the film cuts away right as disaster is about to strike, returning to the aftermath later. However, from a cinematic standpoint, I prefer wanting more than being overwhelmed with too much such as in films like, say, Transformers. It makes you hunger for a sequel more so than if we feel like we’ve had too much. But when the action finally commences, it’s quite the spectacle.

And take into consideration just how faithful the film makers stayed in the design of the legendary lizard. His sheer size, appearance, and even his signature roar are all representative of his original roots.

But one thing that caught me by surprise was how much Godzilla was personified in the film as mankind’s “savior”. It’s naturally assumed that the skyscraper-sized behemoth is a villain-like character, much like an earthquake, based on the devastating disaster he wreaks. But by giving Godzilla two adversaries to overcome—–the true bad guys of the story—–Godzilla is, in effect, the film’s inadvertent protagonist. It was an interesting plot twist, something fresh and new that (as far as I know) hasn’t been tried yet.

The second aspect I enjoyed about the film was the way in which it wasn’t afraid to take its time in fleshing out its eeriness. It’s an apocalyptic film that contains some truly frightening film-making in the spirit of some cult classics like the Aliens films. Its unnerving silence and deliberate tension was a refreshing component.

In a nutshell:

Even though it may not be completely original, Godzilla is still a breathtaking remake of a classic film that far surpasses the 1998 version, and with acting talent that bring a true sense of stark realism to the film. Despite a somewhat disappointing lack of the title character, Godzilla still devises just enough action and visual spectacle to keep the audience on their seat’s edge.


8 stars

  1. CMrok93 says:

    Good review. Though I can see why many have a problem with this movie and what it does with Godzilla, I didn’t mind the build-up all that much. The characters weren’t great, but at least the cast tried here.

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