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Godzilla – Review

Godzilla Review

There’s a dichotomy to Godzilla as a character that’s seen him remain so iconic throughout 60 years’ worth of incarnations. He’s destructive, but heroic. He’s there to hunt, with no desire to interfere with humanity, but cannot help to do so. Humanity as a backdrop has always existed throughout his legacy. He battles an array of cult monsters while we fire at him with our puny weapons. He laughs at them.

It’s also fairly unique in regard to Hollywood’s reluctance to touch it (1998’s Godzilla being the only Hollywood produced version), and perhaps rather tellingly turn to Gareth Edwards to direct, off the back of his micro-budget debut Monsters that focused on the human element of a world besieged by… monsters.

Tying nicely into Godzilla’s 60th anniversary, the release of his latest re-birth takes an unusual path away from most modern blockbusters in using Godzilla, the iconic draw of the film, as an enormous support to a tense emotional drama. How would a real world with real human relationships react to the discovery of a giant monster?
Godzilla Review

From Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) obsessively trying to untangle a massive cover-up, which killed his wife 15 years earlier, to Dr Serizawa’s (Ken Watanabe) investigation and pursuit of Godzilla as a God-like creature here to restore balance, it offers an incredibly visceral expansion to the monster movie genre. Joe’s son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a bomb disposal specialising soldier, finds himself at the centre of Godzilla’s path to hunt the parasitic Muto, a creature ploughing through civilisation on its way to find its mate and nest some radioactive babies. Just by following his instincts, Godzilla’s existence changes the lives of everyone.

It’s such a big, entertaining spectacle beginning and ending on humanity’s insignificance in the face of nature. The monster fight sequences balance that delicate line of being left wanting more. It’s always spectacular, but much more of a sideshow than you’d expect. There’s never a disconnect from the action, the characters are skilfully drawn and well grounded, with such otherworldly elements as Godzilla and the Mutos layered in seamlessly. And what self-respecting blockbuster would be complete without the closing threat of nuclear annihilation? Literally none. But it ties into the story so well that it doesn’t feel lazy.

There are some truly incredible sequences, encompassing very impressive direction and sound design, with every action set piece hitting the mark. Visually, the artistic decision to mask Godzilla behind smoke/ash/debris really adds a lot of depth to him as a character blending into the destruction around him. His presence is much more haunting than you’d expect.
Godzilla Review

It’s been marketed extremely well too; he’s never been flaunted in our faces. When you do see him in detail, it’s pretty incredible. He’s so expressive, like watching a dog plotting his next move to con food out of you. He slots nicely into a very impressively assembled cast, with the aforementioned stars alongside Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins and David Strathairn all going above and beyond what you’d predict from a Godzilla film.

Hereby setting itself as the benchmark for an era of blockbuster defining itself on disaster p*rn, it really delivers on everything you’d look for, without holding your hand through it or sticking to conventions. It even presents itself with a certain amount of subtlety. The denouement of the final battle between Godzilla and Muto is jaw-dropping, and a memorable final shot is delivered without fuss. Damn impressive.

Grade: A

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2 Comments »

  • Wild Icon© said

    I am going to see this amazing movie on the weekend. Godzilla looks like it will be a blockbuster for sure!

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  • Sheridan said
    Sheridan

    Just got back from seeing it. I gotta say… pretty disappointed. I think the director misunderstood the Spielberg-Jaws hide the monster trick, I’ve never seen it mishandled quite like this. The number of times the action was about to start up and 5 seconds in, it cuts instead to the dull humans somewhere else, got incredibly frustrating. The fight in Las Vegas sounded awesome then -haha- you don’t get to see it. The focus was on the MUTO far more than Godzilla, which combined with hiding him really until the last ten minutes contributed to him seeming like a supporting character in his own movie. There are maybe 20 shots of his face in the whole movie. He ought to have fought 3 different types of monster in battles spaced throughout the film. Hopefully the sequel will be better now that success has made it safe to increase the budget.

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