The world’s most famous monster is pitted against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence.
Godzilla returns to the big screen care of relative newcomer Gareth Edwards whose last film was the 2010 released Monsters. Alongside Edwards are writers Max Borenstein and Dave Callaham who have delivered a remake/reboot of the classic franchise but one that clearly holds its source material dear to its heart. This isn’t to say the film doesn’t deviate from the material that’s come before as it most certainly does, however given the nods and overall structure of the film it is clear that what’s come before sat close to the minds of those involved here.
Cleverly the film resists the urge to rush towards the Godzilla reveal too early, in fact it paces itself masterfully as the opening act invests its time in fleshing out the setting and the characters and drawing the audience into the mystery of Godzilla’s existence. This is reinforced by some early dramatic material capitalised on by some great performances that keeps the audience engaged and interested despite the likely increasing curiosity as to when the monster fights are going to begin.
Godzilla surprises in that it presents a more grounded tone overall than one might expect, the underlying script takes care with sound attention to detail which helps maintain the films substance over its two hour runtime. With that said, there are a few minor action sequences distributed throughout the film to amp things up when needed, and once the real monster action kicks off, things ramp up quickly towards a spectacular finale.
This film is primarily a human tale, Godzilla the creature is generally kept a little disconnected from things but still with a few thematic variations where the opportunity arises such as Godzilla our saviour, Godzilla our destructor and so forth. Overall however the presentation of the monsters in this film is excellent, the visual effects are great and the visual storytelling is well crafted.
Edwards takes care not to oversaturate the visuals with monster imagery utilising different tools such as smoke, mist, and water to keep things mysterious for as long as possible.
Bryan Cranston delivers an excellent performance here, the only real shortcoming is that his screen time is never long enough, and he leaves a notable gap in screen presence every time his character isn’t in shot. Aaron Taylor-Johnson carried the bulk of the film but unfortunately his performance comes across a little stilted and flat, especially when juxtaposed against Cranston’s performance. Taylor-Johnson is given opportunities for both drama, and desperation but this never really comes through strongly in his delivery. Ken Wantanabe however invigorates things with some of the most quotable lines in the film.
Once the focus of the film shifts towards the creatures in the latter acts, the human aspects of the tale are forgotten slightly. The characters are managed a little more roughly and some of the earlier care for detail falls away to a degree.
Overall Godzilla is a very enjoyable film, it’s recommended to view with a little patience as the film takes the time to build up something more interesting than simply jumping straight into monster fight sequences, but it’s worth the time. I’m giving Godzilla 7 out of 10 stars, it’s in cinemas across Australia from 15 May 2014.