Director: Gareth Edwards
Writer: Max Borenstein
Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, Juliette Binoche, Elizabeth Olsen, David Strathairn, Sally Hawkins
It’s been well over a decade since “Godzilla” stormed into theaters, that is until Gareth Edwards and company re-imagined the monster for a new audience. While there are some minor script bumps along the way, the main monster-versus-monster entertainment draw doesn’t fail to disappoint as the film reaches it’s third act.
“Godzilla” begins with a retooled origin of the monster, which is quickly shown in the opening credits. He’s been the military’s long-kept secret for decades – a dangerous one at that – and they have no idea how to kill it. The creature remains dormant within the depths of the sea, but this quickly begins to change. When a strange new monster breaks loose, causing chaos amongst the modern day world, the military scrambles to defeat it by any means necessary. Luckily for them, the mysterious creature they’ve been studying for so long emerges out of the water, ready to take on the MUTOs and reclaim its place as the dominant monster.
This isn’t Gareth Edwards’ first time around the monster block, and it certainly won’t be his last. He easily weaves the viewer in and out of these intense situations through the eyes of media. The continual shift in viewpoints during early battles between the monsters provides to be a bit troublesome, especially for over-eager fans who only wish to see the action up close. Edwards’ style is rather unique, visually taking audiences by the hand and guiding everyone through this catastrophic world. It would have been preferable to see more of the Hawaii battle through a different set of eyes, but the end payoff in San Francisco is fantastic to watch. It’s just a shame it takes quite awhile to get towards that point.
Arguably the most troublesome part of “Godzilla” isn’t Edwards’ direction, but the inconsistent pacing and thin characters in Max Borenstein’s script. A lot of the momentum and action that brings audience members to the edge of their seats drops about a half hour into the film. The pacing is clunky in the mid section, but when our heroes finally make their way to San Francisco, it quickly picks up.
Now there’s a lot of fantastic actors in “Godzilla,” but there isn’t much for them to do, and a lot of that has to do with the one-dimensional human characters. Ken Watanabe’s Dr. Ishiro Serizawa appears to be in a daze, walking around with his mouth half-open. The women in this movie don’t really do much of anything, other than appear incredibly worried or scared in almost every scene they’re in. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is normally a wonderful actor to see perform on the big screen, but he’s reduced to being a stoic, almost completely unemotional military man. And if movie-goers are running into theaters to see “Godzilla” for Bryan Cranston’s performance, it is there for roughly around 40 minutes tops. The real star of the show isn’t any of the human actors, but Godzilla.
The technical aspects of “Godzilla” overshadows every single performance, direction and script beat in this film. The amount of time and manpower it took for them to make Godzilla appear the way he does on screen is a major accomplishment. Every single detail on these creatures is fantastic, the battle sequences are thrilling to see, especially when viewers are able to see the full extent of the monsters’ powers. And let’s not forget the fact that “Godzilla” must be watched in a Dolby Atmos theater. There’s a huge difference between hearing this film in a regular movie theater compared to one that houses Dolby Atmos surround sound. With this extra feature installed into the theater, you get this wonderfully immersive sound experience that highlights every crack, rumble, and shout. Also, be sure to try and avoid seeing “Godzilla” in 3D. The gimmicky effect immediately fades out shortly after the film begins. If you want the full 3D experience, it requires squinting through the glasses which will immediately give any viewer an instant headache.
Is “Godzilla” really worth seeing in theaters? Yes. It’s the popcorn-loving, electrifying summer film that audiences normally crave during this movie season. Superhero movies fill the gap to a certain degree, but completely mindless, monster-versus-monster films like “Godzilla” are definitely worth watching with a crowd in theaters.
“Godzilla” is out in theaters now.