For many of us who enjoy monster movies, the announcement of the reboot of the “god” of monsters, Godzilla, left us anxious with anticipation. Anxious and hoping for a glorious rebirth and worried that possibly the movie might be something we wished would have stayed resting at the bottom of the sea.
One of the longest running film series in history, began with Ishiro Honda’s 1954, B&W film of a 400 foot tall mutant dinosaur called Gojira. This movie previewed after the atomic bomb devastation in Japan. The immediate effect of a nuclear attack and also fear of the aftereffects of radiation, created a fear, an epic, monstrous fear. Gojira, awakened from the depths of the sea as a rampaging nuclear nightmare, complete with glowing dorsal fins and fiery, radioactive breath. Crushing ships, villages and buildings in his wake. With all of the Godzilla movies out there (some good, some bad and some so bad they are good) Gareth Edwards faced a challenge to bring back a monster created from epic devastation and fear.
When talking about Godzilla movies, especially with any monster movie devotees, it’s easy to forget, and rarely ever mentioned, that most monster movies are boring. Yes, even with multiple monsters, alien visitors, and monster battles. The movies are generally full of flimsy characters, questionable plots and plenty of laughable effects and costumes. However, like a bowl of mashed potatoes, Godzilla movies are comfort food.
That being said there are a number of things that really make this Godzilla a good monster movie.
First, there is a clear emotional through line, and a few characters you can get behind, and stay behind for the duration of the movie.
The characters are solid and more fully developed than in most Godzilla movies (which, let’s face it isn’t a hard thing to do). But, if you are going to see Godzilla because you are excited for a Bryan Cranston film, don’t waste your time. The trailers for Godzilla are Bryan Cranston heavy making it seem like he has a leading role in this film, his appearance is strong but not as prominent as one might expect.
Hands down, my favorite character in this movie is Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe),
the iconic scientist. Dr. Serizawa who has studied this monster, understands and respects the creature more than any other character in the movie. The moment when he first utters a reverend whisper, “Godzilla” it sent chills through me and warmed my soul. This was the moment where I believed Godzilla had been brought back from his glorious, monstrous and iconic existence.
Gareth Edwards’ long takes and aesthetic compositions, do most of the talking, making this film pleasing on the eyes and manna to the monster movie soul. A monster’s presence shouldn’t have to be explained. A good successful monster mover will make you feel the creature’s presence, and Edwards’ Godzilla movie does exactly that. The monster is viewed from a perspective which provides a sense of scale while simultaneously a real sense of terror.
See Godzilla purely for the monster mayhem, not because you want nuanced characters or blood-drenched reflections on the eventual end of mankind. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by what the film has to offer. The creature effects are spectacular and the film beautiful overall, the cinematography by Seamus McGarvey is splendid.
It goes without saying that Godzilla should be seen on the tallest IMAX screen you can find, so what I am saying is to see Godzilla find the tallest, largest IMAX screen you can find, sit back and enjoy the rebirth of the god of monsters, Godzilla.