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2014 Summer Movie Review: Godzilla

The famous Japanese kaiju threatens San Francisco in Gareth Edwards' reboot of "Godzilla"

The famous Japanese kaiju threatens San Francisco in Gareth Edwards’ reboot of “Godzilla”

In 1954, there was a film about Japan facing with a disaster unlike anything they have experienced before. Was it a massive earthquake? Was it a flood? Or was it Godzilla, a giant radioactive lizard?

After the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which ended World War II, Japan became genuinely invested in making nuclear power plants and bombs. Not only were they using the bombs as tests, but they use them for a much more serious purpose. That is to kill Godzilla. The movie became a huge worldwide success. It set a new ground of out-of-this-world special effects, and made Godzilla become one of the best giant movie monsters, along with King Kong.

60 years later, Gareth Edwards, the director of the 2010 indie film Monsters (made for a budget of a mere $500,000), attached his name to direct the reboot of Godzilla. He used new film techniques (i.e. CGI) to capture the iconic kaiju providing an old-fashioned concept that would make Steven Spielberg proud. For someone who has yet to see the original Japanese version, I acknowledge the historical value that went into the making of Godzilla.

After a brief montage of nuclear physicists setting up nuclear bombs to test them, Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe, The Last Samurai and Inception) calls to the Philippines to examine skeletons in a mine. He recognizes an egg had hatched, and something has escaped into the Pacific Ocean. That “something” is the giant lizard himself, Godzilla.

Meanwhile, Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston, Malcolm in the Middle and Breaking Bad), a nuclear specialist is concerned about the disastrous events that happened over the years. When he tries to find the answers he’s looking for, he finds out that not only Godzilla is threatening humanity, but two parasites, known as the MUTO, are also coming to destroy the world. As the monsters target San Francisco, Joe lets his son, Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Kick-Ass), an officer in the NAVY, to get rid of the monsters.

I guess you can call Godzilla, “this year’s Pacific Rim without giant robots (jaegers)”. If any of you are expecting Godzilla to have a lot of screen time, then you would be no less than disappointed. In terms of the story, it’s reminiscent to Jaws. Where he have to wait an hour to see the monster in its entirety. It’s not to say the human drama is totally redundant. Of course, it drag at times but it has enough to build up to the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Unlike the earlier versions of Godzilla, this reboot has a much serious and devastating feel. Edwards doesn’t need to use humor to make the story compelling.

With the exception of Bryan Cranston and Ken Watanabe, some characters have limited development. Aaron Taylor-Johnson portrays a decent protagonist and gets the job done, but he barely gave any emotion at all. Making it look like he’s the new Hayden Christensen. Elizabeth Olsen as Ford’s wife, again, she delivers a decent performance but her character development is very limited. She doesn’t bring that much depth into her role rather than being a nurse.

Once Godzilla first appears on the screen an hour into the movie, we forget that he’s just a CGI creation. The “God of Monsters” looks so real that it makes our jaws drop in awe. As he rises a massive height of about 400 feet from the ground, he lets out a roar so loud that it literally shook the entire theater, and sending chills down everyone’s spines. When Godzilla fights the MUTO in the year’s best climax thus far, we root for him until the end. I’m glad I went to see Godzilla.

3.5/4

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