All hail the return of the King of the Monsters.
Gareth Edward’s “Godzilla” is a beautiful rebirth for everyone’s favorite fire breathing lizard and he looks incredible for his 60th year of appearing on screen. This new chapter is also a return to the serious tones of the original 1954 movie but the fear has switched from man’s nuclear power to Mother Nature’s wrath which is on fierce display. This is a giant monster movie that’s firmly rooted in today’s world where scenes recall the recent horrors of tsunamis and nuclear meltdowns; a far cry from the campy tone of last year’s under-seen and misunderstood “Pacific Rim”. While the destruction in “Godzilla” comes straight from the headlines it never feels overdone, unlike the disaster porn of “Man of Steel” or any “Transformers” movie, but instead the visual carnage serves to add atmosphere rather than distraction and the tone seeks to convey a sense of wonder as giant monsters fill the screen. “Godzilla” could even be seen as something of a minimalist blockbuster; the soundtrack allows for quiet moments of terror and awe, the monsters are usually obscured behind smoke or buildings (which leads to several scenes of unexpected beauty) until the climatic throw-down, and the city-leveling special effects never feel over the top. If anything, “Godzilla” is a fantastic homage to the films of Steven Spielberg and it’s easy to spy the influences and even references to “Jaws” and “Jurassic Park”; from fins cutting through the ocean to a jungle safari soundtrack it’s easy to see Edward’s love for classic Spielberg movies.
“Godzilla” is not a perfect movie; the acting comes across as rather one-dimensional, save for an understated Ken Watanabe and an emotional turn from Bryan Cranston, but is no worse than the cheesy acting from the Godzilla movies of old. The front half of the film is also largely Godzilla free but once he shows up in his full glory it’s clear that Gareth Edwards is a director with a keen talent for directing monsters. For fans of the original Japanese Toho movies this Americanized reinterpretation will hit all the right notes of nostalgia as Godzilla’s trademark roar and design are kept intact along with quite a few other pleasant surprises; sharp eyed viewers should be on the constant lookout for Easter eggs referencing some of Godzilla’s old friends. In short, this is the movie that true Godzilla fans have long been waiting for and is a fantastic entry for Godzilla newcomers. “Godzilla” is out now in theaters.
Photo Source: WarnerBros.com