By Adam Sturrock
Director: Gareth Edwards
Writer: Max Borenstein
Cast: Bryn Cranston, Aaron Taylor Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe
When that legendary shriek roared across the internet in the first trailers, it became an epicentre of excitement and apprehension as to if the reboot will meet the hype. This film being Godzilla, no one wanted some half-baked storyline involving mutated lizards (*cough* Broderick *cough*) so the expectation was merited due to the source material being one of Japan’s biggest cultural exports. With last year’s summer blockbuster, Pacific Rim, gloriously bringing back the good old fashioned monster brawler back to the screens, Godzilla may have jumped on just at the right time.
With that in mind, is the film any good? To a large extent, yes, but it unsurprisingly leaves little when it comes to character development and leans heavily on the action sequences – which is not necessarily a bad thing.
Still largely riding the meth wave of popularity, Bryan Cranston sinks his teeth into the role as Joe Brody, an American engineer working in Japan with his young family. I largely felt that Bryan goes to waste, with the largest share of any relatability going to him in the first 30 minutes of the film. After that, a bland cast of dull characters expect us to feel attachment when we really haven’t been introduced. None of them provide poor performances, it just feels that the cast are merely hanging on to what Cranston put on the table and hoping for the best. Aaron TJ is the chief culprit of such mediocre acting, with every chance he gets to move away from the statue-esque soldier archetype, he fails to do so unblinking and stone-faced.
The film promises Godzilla and for some, it may disappoint in the first half. What we get are little glimpses of fins here and there and ominous disasters. It does help build up the tension and to an extent, the overall satisfaction of the end, but it does get a little frustrating after the third or fourth time they skip on what could’ve been an entertaining sequence.
The little details that were included in the film were, I feel, a nice touch. One of the main reasons why Godzilla is so cherished by Japan is because it symbolized America’s use of atomic weaponry post Hiroshima and Nagasaki; just like the atomic bomb, Godzilla flattened cities and left destruction in its path. Yet again, the use of the atomic bomb is a large plot point in the film and the return of the (largely) Japanese setting will please many of the hardcore fans. The harrowing references to previous Japanese disasters such as the Fukishima power plant disaster will bring a lump in ones throat and for that, director, Gareth Edwards deserves some commendation.
With that out of the way, how is the namesake monster? Without giving much away, Godzilla is the equalizer that scientists need to halt a monster hell-bent on destroying mankind. With that we see the meat and potatoes of any monster film, a good old scrap in a city. It feels totally satisfying watching it all pan out. I just wanted to punch the air and thank the FX people who truly brought to life a monolith of epic proportions. With this admission, it pains me to say that we don’t see enough of it. While the sections we do get to witness are some bombastic mastery of CGI – with one section I shall not mention being perhaps one of my favourites of this year so far – it kind of feels like we are paying the full price for a quarter of a Michelin starred meal and it truly disappoints me.
A lot of pouting builds up to a gobsmacking end battle, but somewhat shallow film. It would be great to get on blu-ray and enjoy it many times over but don’t expect it to break any barriers.