The name Godzilla roars throughout the decollate to overly-crowded streets of our cities worldwide.  He is known from Japan to L.A., and even has his own star on the Hollywood walk of Fame.  But, after appearing in more than 28 films for the Japanese production company Toho, and three American productions (one of which was the terrible 1998 Roland Emmerich version), Godzilla deserved the proper big-screen treatment.  Gareth Edwards has given fans a reason to cheer, as he has successfully brought everyone’s favorite daikaiju to the twenty-first century.  The technological advancements in cinema have allowed Godzilla to become more than a man in a suit, and fully demonstrate the brute force and power of the one-and-only Godzilla.

godzilla-768x1024Director Gareth Edwards’ only other work was the 2010 small-budget hit Monsters, so he seemed like a risky yet fitting choice.  On a micro-budget, he was able to write and direct a film, that much like Godzilla, featured a small story told on a grand scale.  With a script by Max Borenstein, Godzilla is a huge movie with a relatable story that draws you into the action, often through the perspective of our main protagonist  Lieutenant Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson).  Ford’s wife  Elle (Elizabeth Olsen) and son are thousands of miles away when the first sightings of the beasts take place, and on his way home, uses his military prowess to help fend off the threats.  The entire film wasn’t about Ford attempting to get back to his wife and kid (like in so many current alien/monster movies churned out by Hollywood), but the characters are used as the vehicles into the action.  The less you know about the plot going into the film, the better your experience will be, so I will cut the plot details short.  The plot is compelling on both the micro and macro levels, and the film looked beautiful while telling the story.

The first hour or so, all I wanted was to see the beast in action, but the slow build eventually payed off big in the end.  You see this worldwide destruction play out mostly through the perspective of one family.  The great thing about the script is that while part of the story is getting bcd to save your loved one schtick, it’s simply used as a backdrop to the much larger story.  Lieutenant Ford Brody is caught away from his family when things take a turn for the worst, and while he wants to get back to them, the movie isn’t about him attempting to save them from this disaster.  He’s obligated along his journey home to participate, and help fight the problem at hand, while still wanting to return to his wife and kid.  Aside from the character and plot development, you have one incredibly gorgeous film, that completely immerses you into the action and finally delivers on giving fans the Godzilla they have been waiting for.

godzilla-ewFor the first time, Godzilla looks the way filmmakers had always intended (Although overseas audiences seem to believe Godzilla is overweight, like most Americans).  The CGI is beautiful, and the scale of the daikaiju is enormous.  The destruction caused by the fights are massive, and at the sam time, visually stunning.  Gone are the days of men in rubber suits battling amongst miniatures (not there’s anything wrong with that), and now  believable as any monster to grace the big screen.  Presented in IMAX 3D, Godzilla is a visually stunning display of the highest levels of technology at work.  I was never a huge fan of 3D, but within the last year or so, I’m officially sold.  It works incredibly well for certain films, and Godzilla is one of them.  I highly suggest seeing it in its intended format of IMAX 3D if that’s an option, but if you don’t live near an IMAX theater, I’m sure it will still look beautiful, just not immersive.

As long as your patient for the reveal of the daikaiju, Gozilla pays off in the end.  I can’t help shake the feeling of being underwhelmed, but as I’ve been thinking about the overall experience, I think the filmmakers nailed it.   The acting from Aaron Taylor Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, and Bryan Cranston help carry the decent script, but the main star of course Godzilla.  Godzilla clocks in at 123 minutes, and the time flies.  Gareth Edwards and crew have crafted a beautiful film, that will please both new and old fans.  There are over 30 Godzilla movies to date, and Edwards’ American version does everything you would want to see in a giant monster movie.  The relatable story bring you into the action while Godzilla roars through streets.  Godzilla has always been a dynamic creature, being portrayed as both hero and villain, and the new film does an excellent job exploring this relationship to humans.  Godzilla is an grounded film, that explores the chaos of a creature larger than a skyscraper, and while it’s tone is very serious, the film is a fun experience from beginning to end.

Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla stars Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken WatanabeSally Hawkins, and Bryan Cranston.  It opens in theaters May 16, 2014.

About the Author

Peter Towe
Peter Towe
A graduate of UMASS Boston, I have successfully put off getting a "real" job, and continue to watch, produce, review, and obsess over movies. I lived in Boston while I completed my degree, and now live in Chicago trying the improv thing.