BOX OFFICE REVIEW: Godzilla
The King Of All Monsters Invades Theaters...
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There's really no doubt film fans and movie goers know the king of all monsters. Originally appearing six decades ago in Ishirō Honda's 1954 film, Godzilla has appeared in nearly 30 films and continues to impress pop culture fans around the world with his mighty strength, cultural relevance and staying power. Now, the greatest beast to ever grace the big screen has once again attacked theaters Hollywood-style in a modern-day remake staring not only beautiful CGI, but an impressive cast including Ken Watanabe, Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Sally Hawkins and Juliette Binoche.
Written by Max Borenstein from a story by Dave Callaham and directed by Gareth Edwards, whose 2010 film Monsters may have set him up perfectly to take the reigns of the greatest monster ever, bring to life this near perfect popcorn movie filled with adventure, excitement, and just a bit of drama, tragedy and tension...not to mention a whole lot of monster mayhem.
Godzilla begins in 1999, some 15 years in the past, with Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Wantanabe) and Vivienne Graham (Hawkins) investigating the discovery of a massive, monstrous skeleton found underground during a mining excavation on a random island in the South Pacific. Not only is a monster skeleton found, but strange, unidentified pods too, and one of the pods seems to have hatched. Jump to Japan where we find Joe and Sandra Brody (Cranston and Binoche) living and working at a nuclear power plant which suddenly collapses following an unexplained seismic event, leaving the island abandon and supposedly soaked in deadly radiation.
Fast forward 15 years to present day. Joe and Sandra's son, Ford (Taylor-Johnson), returns from a 16 month military deployment to reunite with wife Ellen (Olsen) and son Sam (Carson Bolde) only to find his father Joe has been arrested in Japan for trespassing on the same island where the nuclear disaster struck. Ford finds his father still obsessing over the tragedy, seeking unexplainable answers to the seismic event which haunts him still. Of course, when Ford gets to Japan and bails his father out of jail, he too becomes entangled in his father's conspiracy theories only to find his father isn't as crazy as he and everyone else believes. Soon, Ford and Joe find themselves in the middle of an awakening that's unlike anything they could have imagined and unlike anything humanity has ever seen. Unfortunately, the only way to solve the monster problem they've uncovered is to allow another beast, even bigger and badder than the first, to run rampant.
First, it must be said the writers of Godzilla do a good job of providing a realistic and understandable back story for the monsters and their existence. Without understanding why the creatures exists, it's hard to care about anything else. That said, the writers also provide a dramatic and tragic back story for the human characters seeking to find not only answers, but safety.
That said, be under no illusion why fans flock to the theater to see Godzilla however; there's nothing like watching massive monsters tear through the countryside and cities, terrorizing the masses, lighting the world on fire and turning civilization on its head. With the introduction of a new, mysterious monster (akin to the beast seen in Cloverfield), there's nothing like watching Godzilla face off against an ancient nemesis and a true, viable threat. After all, and let's be honest, there's only so much of Godzilla shrugging off missiles, rockets and machine gun fire an audience can watch and enjoy.
Director Gareth Edwards does an impressive job with his first big budget blockbuster. Edwards delivers impressive shots throughout, providing viewers with not only a sense of tension and despair, but of threat and concern. On numerous accounts, the film puts us in the eyes of a character as we witness the breathtaking magnitude of the beasts and the scenes of destruction. One scene in particular, in which a platoon of paratroopers jump from 30,000 feet, captures this perfectly. We watch as, through the eyes of our human hero, we fall into a fire-filled, smoke-covered San Fransisco, all the while bearing down on the city, Godzilla and the monster's foe as they battle. The sheer size of the behemoths and their destruction seems almost incomprehensible to the modern mind.
While Ford Brody, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, is our main human hero and he does a decent enough job of leading us into the battle; the most impressive performances in Godzilla no doubt come from Ken Watanabe as Dr. Ichiro Serizawa and Bryan Cranston as Joe Brody. A simple look or stare at the monster from Wantanabe delivers enough awe and wonder to relay that same feeling into the audience while the fear and disgust spread across Cranston's face gives viewers a sense of his emotional turmoil and angst, something we too feel. Another solid performance comes from Olsen, who plays the younger Ford's wife as she struggles to save not only herself but her son while worry about her husband on the front lines.
Again, and let's be clear here, movie goers won't go to Godzilla to see humans cry and mourn; we'll go instead to see the King of Monsters tear up the landscape and destroy all we hold precious while battling a foe we can not defeat ourselves. Thus, the subtlety stated yet profoundly important message found in Godzilla remains and rings true; we often take for granted the awesome power of nature and the terrifying results which come about when we humans interfere with the grand design of the world. So we've been warned...
By far one of the most fun and exciting films you'll see this year, Godzilla delivers an impressive showcase of effects as well enjoyable performances from the cast. Be sure to check out Godzilla, in theaters now and rated PG-13 for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence.
- Jess C. Horsley
Last edited by JessHorsley; 05-17-2014 at 11:11 AM.
"Until next time...have FUN with your figures!!"
Jess C. Horsley