There’s a reason he’s called “King of the Monsters.”

Posted on June 3, 2014 by

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Godzilla, a legend spanning nearly half a century, is back in theaters.

A creature of gigantic proportions, the giant lizard that crushes cities as if they were paper mache is popular worldwide. Nearly fifty years ago, Godzilla started as an inquiry into the fears of the early 1950’s: What is the nuclear testing doing to the oceans of the world?

For Japanese film studio Toho, this came to life in film as an over 300 feet tall, mutated T-Rex with stegosaurus back plates.  The creature unleashed his wrath upon mainland Japan and other monsters across dozens of movies.

Ranging from campy B-movies to big budgeted blockbusters, these movies have provided entertainment for both Japanese and foreign audiences alike as Godzilla smashes through cites, militaries, and other Kaiju (Japanese for “giant monster”) alike.

The last Japanese Godzilla movie, Godzilla Final Wars, was released in 2005 and marked the last chapter of the Godzilla franchise… at least for Japan. Now, nearly nine years later, Godzilla returns to the big screens in this American made reboot. This is not the first time that an American made reboot of Godzilla hit screens. In 1998, Godzilla, directed by Roland Emmerich (who also directed Independence Day) was released. However, this movie received staunch criticism for its odd portrayal of Godzilla and, as a result, never attained much success commercially.

Gareth Edwards, a relatively unknown independent director, mans the helm of Godzilla’s comeback. Gareth had also brought along members of the Toho Company to help advise him on the storyboard, hoping to be as faithful to the original movies as possible. The result is a dramatic, if somewhat overly so, monster movie that may not be for everyone.

The movie has a rather slow build-up, showing a montage of old photos dealing with discovering of Godzilla, which leads into the introduction of the characters as well as the overall set up to the plot. Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) portrays the lead scientist in charge of the findings dealing with these ancient monsters, providing the movie’s scientific insight behind the creatures.  Serizawa is constantly at odds with higher authority figures, with a staunch man vs. nature mentality. All-in-all, Ishiro provides a voice of reason, and the movie’s focus on the present monster battle disallows much background information on his part, sans the reason why he detests the use of nuclear based weapons.

This brings us to Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) and Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson ), the latter the movie’s main character, as they are thrown into a tale a personal tragedy as three god-like creatures engage in a fight that could bring the world to its knees. Joe, at first a nuclear technician in Japan and later a conspiracy theorist, and his son, Ford, a lieutenant in the U.S. military, were thrown into the conflict fifteen years ago when a tragedy at the nuclear power plant changed both their lives forever.

Now, in 2014, the creatures responsible for the destruction awaken and brings forth a chain of events that lead to three monsters, Godzilla, Muto (male), and Muto (female) engaging in a massive two-versus-one fight. Ford, now a respected EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) expert is thrown into the helm of destruction as he works to bring the monsters down and save his family in the process.

As the three monsters fight and the military is forced into a desperate plan to rid themselves of the beasts, Ford provides a firsthand account of his struggles to bring about the end game inthe battle. Overall, the movie’s settings and special effects are well done, and the locations, from the Japanese coast to Hawaii to the final backdrop of San Francisco, look absolutely beautiful.

The monsters themselves, while no longer people wearing rubber suits, look well done. The CGI is great, and the fight scenes are well choreographed, which leads to intense moments of fighting between the three monsters as well as the explosive finale and final fight scene. There is no shortage of action, and though some scenes may seem mundane and tedious, they work well to build up the suspense.

The acting is well done at parts; however, it can approach soap-opera levels of overdramatics at times. One thing that really sticks out is that there are a small amount of unnecessary romance scenes and needlessly convoluted plot. The movie does not try to be anything more than it is: a giant monster movie.

With its intense fights scenes, a switch between beautiful and dreary scenery, and acting that is sometimes overdramatic at times, Godzilla provides a great start to the summer movie experience.

Though it is not for everyone, any fans of Godzilla will appreciate this take on a classic movie monster. And while probably not Oscar nomination material, Godzilla provides a fun and entertaining experience that is essentially three movies in one: one part drama, one part monster movie, and one part commentary of how man interacts with nature.

Godzilla holds well with the original theme of the 1950s and does very well to bring it into a new light of the 2010s.
All-in-all, I give this movie a 8.8 out of 10.

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