It has been more than ten years since the last American adaptation of Godzilla has hit the big screen. When Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla was released in 1998 I was only five years old and even then I didn’t really like the film, but I enjoyed the actual character of Godzilla. So when I heard that a remake was in the works I was worried. I feared that it would just be another reboot trying to cash in on a popular franchise. But Gareth Edwards’ take on the monster removed all doubt.
In the film, Aaron Taylor-Johnson plays Ford Brody, an explosive ordnance disposal lieutenant who has just returned home to his wife played by Elizabeth Olsen and son played by Carson Bolde. His father, Joe Brody (played by Bryan Cranston), has just been arrested in Japan for trespassing in a quarantined are where his wife had died fifteen years prior due to a massive earthquake. Taylor-Johnson travels to Japan to assist his father and in doing so, eventually discovers the existence of Godzilla and a flying creature dubbed a “M.U.T.O”. Long story short the M.U.T.O.’s (there’s two of them) are attempting to meet up with each other in order to mate, but Godzilla ain’t havin’ none of that so he attempts to stop them while the U.S. military is attempting to kill both Godzilla and the M.U.T.O.s.
Edwards does more good than harm in my opinion. The characters that we are forced to focus on in between the monster scenes are relatively bland with the exception of Bryan Cranston. Unfortunately, Cranston has only a few scenes in the film, but whenever he is on-screen you forget all about Godzilla and realize that the man can act. Other than that everyone else in the film is more or less a generic, throwaway character. Even Taylor-Johnson, who I loved in Kick-Ass, was only there to be tossed around by explosions. I swear to God it felt like Cranston had more lines in this film than Taylor-Johnson. Not to mention that Taylor-Jonson didn’t deliver his lines too well. He seemed like he was trying far too hard. Elizabeth Olsen was in the film almost as long as Cranston was only to remind the audience that Taylor-Johnson has a family and that he has a reason to fight these monsters.
Bland characters aside, Edwards did a fantastic job on the action sequences and the monster designs in general. Even though we have to deal with bland characters for most of the movie there are several action sequences mixed in between to keep the audience pleased until the big fight. Godzilla’s reveal literally sent shivers down my spine. A booming foot, a long pan upwards, and a loud, ear-splitting roar directly to the camera made the fanboy in me grin from ear-to-ear. In fact, several of the action sequences were actually beautiful. Not beautiful in the sense that they were super cool, but in the sense that you could tell that Edwards was strategically placing the camera with careful thought and creating scenes that would make hairs stand on end. A terrific example is the HALO jump scene towards the end of the film. Most of the scene is in the teaser trailer for the film. This one scene shows several military officers parachuting down into San Francisco while Godzilla fights the M.U.T.O.s beneath them. The sky is lit blue with lightning and orange with blazing fire. Red smoke trails add a beautiful touch and we get to see a POV close up shot of Godzilla roaring. It was literally beautiful
The character designs of both Godzilla and the M.U.T.O.s were absolutely great. The M.U.T.O.s were like a mix between a spider and a bat while the shitty 1998 design of Godzilla was ditched and replaced with a much more traditional look that featured a stubby nose and a jagged, spiked spine. Something that most people wouldn’t think of being extremely important to Godzilla and the M.U.T.O.s is their sound design. The traditional roar for Godzilla is re-worked to create a legitimately terrifying sound that is at the same time awesome. And the M.U.T.O.s clicking-like roar is absolutely pleasing to the ear.
The film has gotten some flack since its release saying that the film is too much of a tease to the actual main event, but I loved that. I wouldn’t want to go in to the theater and see Godzilla fight the M.U.T.Os right away and then leave. Edwards gave me exactly what I wanted in terms of action. He made the tension rise to the point where you couldn’t take it anymore and just when you felt like you were going to explode, Godzilla and the M.U.T.O.s fought it out. And I would be upset if the big smack down was a letdown, but it was well worth it.
The Bottom Line: This film is without a doubt a great action film. Yes it has its flaws with some very uninteresting characters (except for Bryan Cranston), but what the film lacks in character development it more than makes up for with tremendous action scenes and a final showdown that will have fans talking for weeks. I do feel as though Edwards is the right director for these films in terms of action, but he just needs to work on the character development aspect. If he does deliver a sequel, I have complete faith in him and I will keep a close eye for anything else he releases after this film. As for Godzilla itself, I definitely recommend this film to anybody who wants to see an absolutely jaw dropping action film.