Directed by GARETH EDWARDS
Starring BRYAN CRANSTON, AARON TAYLOR-JOHNSON, ELIZABETH OLSEN,
JULIETTE BINOCHE, and KEN WATANABE
JULIETTE BINOCHE, and KEN WATANABE
Edwards makes use of the film's credits. During the credits, we see that all of those atomic bomb tests in the pacific ocean in the 1950s weren't actually just tests. The bomb drops were man's attempt to kill monsters, or more specifically, MUTOS (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms). In the wake of this "testing," the "MONARCH" organization was born. MONARCH alone knows the true nature of these massive creatures.
In the modern era, Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Wantanbe) and his research assistant Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins) are investigating a mine cave-in in the Philippines. They find ancient bones with two large pods attached. The pods are a parasite that likely killed the gigantic beast. One of the pods has hatched and made its way to the ocean--not good. This is what likely caused the cave-in. Meanwhile elsewhere in the world...
|Juliette Binoche (Sandra Brody)|
Fifteen years later, Joe has still not quite recovered from his wife's death and he never figures out what happened. Similar to real-life meltdowns in Fukushima and Chernobyl, the plant and the surrounding areas have been quarantined due to excessive radiation. Trespassers are arrested and jailed. Ford Brody is all growed up in the form of Aaron Taylor-Johnson (soon to be Quicksilver in 'Avengers 2'). Ford is a Lieutenant in the United States Navy and an explosives expert. Ford is returning home to his wife Elle (Elizabeth Olsen) and their son. Is it a little weird that Olsen will also be playing Johnson's sister the Scarlet Witch in the 'Avengers' sequel?
|Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Ford Brody)|
|Bryan Cranston (Joe Brody) and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Ford Brody)|
The island is now home to a massive cocoon that MONARCH has been monitoring. The cocoon is causing electrical disturbances and earthquakes in the area. It's not long after Joe and Ford's arrival that the cocoon hatches. What emerges is a hideous creature (likely the podded parasite from the cave-in in the Philippines). The creature has wings similar to Mothra from the original 'Godzilla' films.
|Ken Watanabe (Dr. Serizawa)|
Godzilla is a primordial beast, perhaps millions of years old. Likewise, the creature that has just hatched is some form of ancient parasite. These creatures feed on radioactive materials as they were formed when the earth's surface naturally contained more radiation. In modern times the creatures live deep beneath the earth, closer to active radioactive sources. But now with nuclear power plants these creatures can pop up to the surface for a snack anytime they want.
The recently hatched Mothra is headed towards the American west, Yucca Mountain to be precise. Yucca Mountain is a repository for nuclear waste...and something else. MONARCH has hidden another sleeping radioactive beastie there. When the military arrives they find that it has escaped and is making a path of destruction to the ocean.
It is determined that this creature is twice the size of the Mothra and likely female. Thankfully it doesn't have wings. Clearly these two creatures have been communicating with each other and are making their way towards each other in order to mate. Godzilla is also making his way towards the beasties. It's Dr. Serizawa's theory that Godzilla's motives are different. Serizawa believes that Godzilla wants to kick butt and chew bubblegum and he is all out of bubblegum. Godzilla seeks to kill these creatures, before they kill him. Serizawa believes that Godzilla is the natural balance to this monstrous species.
|Elizabeth Olsen (Elle Brody)|
|Ken Watanabe (Dr. Serizawa) and David Strathairn (Admiral Stenz)|
Ford volunteers his services with an attachment of soldiers tasked to take the nuclear weapon to the monsters. Ford is an explosives expert and his expertise is desperately needed. They have a few hiccups along the way. These monsters are a handful and they have built-in electromangnetic pulses. Needless to say the "fit hits the shan" and the nuclear device (which has been manually set due to electrical interference) cannot be disarmed even after the monsters take it into the heart of San Francisco.
One of the best scenes in the film is when the soldiers HALO jump (High Altitude Low Jumping) into San Francisco from 30,000 feet. The jump leader tells them that if by chance they survive and don't hit a skyscraper on the way down, their mission is to disarm the nuclear device and lure the Mothra beasts out to sea.
Godzilla finally makes an appearance toward the end of the film. Some people have complained about this, but I personally agree with Edward's decision to show Godzilla as little as possible. According to Edwards, Godzilla's screentime should be awe-inspiring and it is. When I finally saw Godzilla roar in all of his glory, I have to admit I got a slight chill. What I liked most about the film was that Edwards maintained a sense of mystery with his monsters. That sense of mystery makes the monsters more interesting.
'Godzilla' is a good film, but it's not without its flaws (as most films are). Aaron Taylor-Johnson's character was not nearly enough to carry the film. The film needed a little more. Also, Edwards seriously underutilized both Cranston and Olsen to the detriment of the film. The ending itself was also somewhat predictable and even slightly cheesy. It had a typical Hollywood ending, which leaves much to be desired.
However, "A" for effort to Edwards. 'Godzilla' may not be a masterpiece, but it's a solid film and an enjoyable experience. Sometimes when directors go from low budget to big budget the results are somewhat iffy--think Neill Blomkamp. Blomkamp made the low budget masterpiece 'District 9' then went on to make the big budget/ "just ok" 'Elysium.' Sometimes less money (in filmmaking) makes people more creative. Fortunately, more money caused Edwards to step up his game...and we thank him.
FOUR OUT OF FIVE STARS