Friday, May 16, 2014

Movie Review: "Godzilla"

If you have been hankering for a good giant monster movie, then Godzilla definitely fits the bill.  The King of the Monsters returns in true heroic fashion in this American-made reboot, that makes the last American-made attempt in 1998 look like a joke.

In this Godzilla, when a new monster, named MUTO, starts to wreak havoc across the Pacific, he eventually draws the attention of Godzilla, leaving the humans to try and find a way to save humanity before we're all destroyed.  There is a lot more to the story than that, but that is the basic gist of this movie.  There are giant, radioactive monsters upsetting the balance of nature, and Godzilla must perform his sacred duties to restore that balance.  As a matter of fact, that's one of my favorite things about this new Godzilla, is that they make him the hero of the story, by painting this idea that the reason for Godzilla's existence is to maintain the delicate balance of nature.

Cutting straight to the point, the monsters are the stars of this movie.  Like all Godzilla movies, the human characters are merely there for exposition and to create an emotional avatar for the audience to experience all the insanity through.  Even still, there are some top notch talent creating that anchor, from small, yet crucial performances by Bryan Cranston and Juliette Binoche, to a nice Everyman turn by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins as scientists who are the source of all exposition.  While I feel the filmmakers could have pushed the human characters a little bit further, all in all, the human characters always work to create empathy when they're onscreen, and isn't that their purpose when the world is being destroyed around them?

Truthfully, the real takeaway from this film, for me, is director Gareth Edwards.  With just two feature films to his credit now, he has quickly become one of the directors to watch.  Edwards' work here is nothing short of phenomenal.  All of the action is represented from the perspective of the human characters, with cutaways to the monsters bashing one another rarely not seen, but rather experienced via destruction and how it is affecting the human characters on the ground.  As well, Edwards has quite possibly the most important skill a director needs, which is a great sense of place.  The way he shoots these action scenes, and any scene for that matter, gives you a great feel for the space in which each scene takes place in.  You are rarely lost or confused when watching the chaos unfold in this film, and that's a credit to a meticulous craftsman.

Ultimately, Godzilla is everything you could want from a Godzilla movie.  While I feel the characters could have been pushed a little further towards a third dimension, they are relatable and perform their duty at setting up the epic battle at the end between Godzilla and not one, but two MUTOs.  I especially loved the conspiracy theory angle that permeates the first half of the film, creating an air of eerie suspense that I really dug, as well, the musical score by Alexandre Desplat is very different than any of his other work, often harking back to the great John Williams' scores of past.  Simply put, Godzilla is a great Summer blockbuster, and is the first one of Summer 2014 that is actually worth seeing.

I give Godzilla an A-!

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