Kenny "Moshing Maniac" Nardozza -The Comics Corner
I can't believe this but finally a summer blockbuster I'm excited about! The King of All Monsters is back on the big screen! In a reboot of the film franchise.
In this adaptation, the King of the Monsters decrees to Destroy all Monsters, as Godzilla becomes savior of the city. It's a different concept that hasn't been seen on screen in quite some time but director Gareth Edwards does a good job incorporating a story into a retelling of the origins of Godzilla. Fans of the Toho series of Godzilla films should be satisfied with this reboot. It really wipes the spit off your face from the last incarnation of Godzilla from 1998 by Roland Emmerich. The film's intro will get any Godzilla fan in the mood as it depicts images from from a nuclear bomb detonation, followed by a huge creature with jagged spikes rising from the depths of the ocean.
The film has a solid cast where the supporting players steal the show. Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche and Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame, albeit all in limited roles, do an excellent job of taking you on this thrill ride. However, the film's lead Aaron Taylor-Johnson does not turn in a strong performance, he really looks pathetic in scenes compared to the rest of the cast. I'm only complaining here because, in the tradition of the original summer blockbuster, Jaws, the monster does not appear until the second half (nearly an hour) of the film. If that is going to be the case, the actors have to sell the story and keep it moving. It totally worked in Jaws but falls short in Godzilla largely because of Johnson's character, Ford. In my opinion, his character is boring and brings nothing to the table. He wants to be a good father and all this other stuff that simply gets lost once the film gets rolling. Some of the lines utilized with him are simply comical. He can't hold his own with the other great actors in the feature and what that does is create a dull first hour where several complaints were murmured throughout the theater being, "not enough monster".
The film starts out in 1999 as scientists discover two egg shaped pods and realize one has hatched. Shortly after, an explosion rocks the Janjira Nuclear Plant near Tokyo, Japan. This leaves plant supervisor Joe Brody (Cranston) in a horrific state as he loses his wife. The explosion is hailed as an earthquake and the entire area is quarantined. After more time elapses, (15 years later) Joe is taken to a secret facility containing a massive chrysalis. The chrysalis eventually hatches and unleashes something called a MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism). I had a few problems with the creature. It looks sort of silly combining elements from the monster seen in the film Super 8 and the previous installment of Godzilla (1998). If they are going to introduce a colossal winged creature to battle Godzilla why not just bring in Mothra, or one of my personal favorite Godzilla villains, King Ghidorah. These other creatures just didn't cut it for me and they had much more screen time than Godzilla. In fact they are roughly the only creatures featured in the first half of the movie.
Next we move to Hawaii where the US Navy finds the MUTO feeding of a Russian Nuclear submarine's reactor. As the military attacks the MUTO, Godzilla finally decides to make his first appearance in the film. He is first seen fighting the MUTO and delivering devastating blows that will make any fan boy cheer. Especially because we all patiently waited nearly an hour to see it. Lost in the chaos is the second MUTO pod which all of a sudden decides to hatch a much larger, female MUTO. The general consensus now being that the two MUTO will meet up and breed. The military comes to the conclusion that they have to destroy the two MUTO and Godzilla, a decision that is met with much controversy as it is believe Godzilla is in fact acting in a heroic nature, vowing to restore order tand rid the world of all MUTO. This is not a new concept but rather one that is taken from later versions of Godzilla films. Edwards does a great job incorporating elements from classic Godzilla films keeping it faithful to the Toho series.
The military's plan to kill all 3 monsters is in place as they bring in a bomb with a clockwork detonator.
The MUTO have been busy at this time stealing a massive warhead, building a huge nest around it in the middle of San Francisco, and dooming the lives of millions in the process. It looks like all hope is lost although Godzilla is never far behind. The scaly reptile shows up in San Fran to mutilate the MUTO. An epic confrontation ensues in a battle that looks like it came right out of a Godzilla comic book or video game. I will admit the fight scenes were epic and would have any Godzilla fan howling in excitement.
This film is truly a heroic return by the "King". Ultimately I did enjoy the movie although it did have it's flaws including a weak lead character, boring moments of plot, and annoying MUTO creatures. However, the movie did its job in paying homage to Godzilla and creating a retelling that audiences can be proud of. Yes I can hear grumblings of fan boys saying there was not enough Godzilla but I believe this had to be done in response to the debacle of the same name in 1998. This film's crew and director had to be careful not to make another disaster like such and obviously decided to play it safe. Here they used Godzilla sparingly and put the emphasis on the humans, which at times were bland, and villains(MUTO). This made Godzilla's inception on screen and final battles simply epic because as an audience member you were craving it. To put it bluntly Godzilla delivered in the moments that mattered. I also loved the look they gave Godzilla, giving the monster a classic makeover and hopefully this Godzilla will come back for seconds.