Godzilla, a legend that rhymes with the celebrated monsters of all time, the likes of King Kong and Frankenstein. Of all the summer blockbusters, Gareth Edward’s Godzilla would undoubtedly be among the top. The previews were haunting and thrilling enough to build hype. The anticipation it’d built is understandable, considering Roland Emmerich’s very mediocre Godzilla. Almost 15 years after, this years iteration had loads of promises to keep and going in for the movie I had my hopes way too high like any other Godzilla fan. And without further ado, I’d like to say I was satiated.
I was welcome to a customized IMAX intro which served as a great node to the monster in question and then to a scene where Ken Watanabe’s character, Dr. Ichiro Serizawa travels to Philippines to investigate a mysterious incident, the shots constantly reminded me of a movie from the past decade, from the aerial views of a copter to Ichiro’s hat. Had John William’s score been playing in the background I would have mistaken it for Jurassic Park. Shortly after, we are introduced to Bryan Cranston’s Joe Brody working in an Atomic plant in Tokyo and there on it served a heavy dose of the grim things that was about to come. While the characters are well written, it takes a long long time to get to the juicy bits. But believe me, your first glimpse of Godzilla will be well worth the slow burn and the tension thus built and works very much in favor of the over all tone of the movie. The humongous beast himself is a sight to behold when he makes his appearance, hulking over buildings like a true god. The monster’s design stays true to its roots, albeit with all intricate details, as opposed to its redesign in Emmerich’s Godzilla which seemed like a giant Iguana. I’ll leave the details for you to experience it for yourself.
Gareth Edwards was a brilliant choice as the director and Godzilla shares a similar style with his previous movie, Monsters. He has done what Christopher Nolan did with Batman. Rooting the characters in a believable world that we could all relate to. He was able to achieve the tension and dread as well as the impending fate of humanity and then leading to an amazing, jaw-dropping monster scuffle finale.
A charismatic Bryan Cranston plays Joe Brody, a grief torn husband who won’t stop at anything to find the mysterious atomic plant calamity that killed his wife. I was surprised as there was no applause seeing Cranston on screen, after all he was our favorite Walter White. His performance was awe inspiring and demanded nothing less than a standing ovation. Later on we are introduced to Aaron Johnson, Brody’s son, and initially felt fine for the role though later on it seemed like he was in no hurry and felt a bit bland for the role. The world, his wife and kid’s lives are at stake and this guy is acting all super cool. Elizabeth Olsen played Aaron’s wife and while she had a good presence her absence wouldn’t have made much difference either. Ken Watanabe displayed a good performance, but nothing to write home about.
Let’s get onto the bad bits now. There were these sequences where the monsters would be on a full on collision course and guess what? It’d be shown on a teeny TV screen in snippets….What?! I mean saving the best for the finale always seems like a good idea, but only on paper. It might work well for an indie/TV movie like Monsters but for a movie with a gargantuan budget like this, it was a tad bit disappointing. I understand Gareth was focusing on all the drama but being a fanboy I would have loved to see more Godzilla and MUTO going head to head. It takes over a whopping 60 minutes to have a glimpse of Godzilla and till then we had to sit through the human drama. It was so severely trying not to be Pacific Rim by injecting more drama and less monster brawl. This is where Pacific Rim won, it was all about the Robots vs Giant Monsters, yes it was pure style over substance but yes it was also what I had asked and paid for. Alexandre Desplat’s score was well synced with the visuals capturing tension and haste in equal proportions, but at times, felt a bit subtle as well.
1998’s Godzilla was in no means an intolerable movie, it had loads of monster action topped with another ton of cheese and my own 5th grade self had loved it at the time. But being a grown up I found way too many flaws to love it as much as I had back then. Gareth’s Godzilla is much more dark in tone and leaves no room for cheese or humor and instead its a huge step up from its predecessor. Huge credits should go for the visual effects team making the monsters believably enthralling. This is almost a perfect reboot for the franchise which has some much needed heart and drama.
Here’s a little extra for those who’ve seen the movie. Godzilla vs Walter White