Warning: This review contains spoilers of the movie Godzilla (2014). Enter at your own risk!
“The arrogance of man is thinking nature is in our control, and not the other way around.”
I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I walked in to watch this film. Monster movies have never really interested me, and with the last iteration of Godzilla essentially becoming a scar in modern film, I was a bit worried about this one. Despite the fact that it would have been so easy to bomb such an iconic character, Godzilla is a riveting roller-coaster ride of action, suspence, and emotion that may just shock you.
Less is more made the movie much more satisfying. Instead of immediately shoving the human population into a monstrous warzone like ants, the movie actually molds the characters into figures to relate with. There is a story and a reason behind everything happening, whether we truly understand it or not, and watching these characters develop through that is a believable but fleeting experience.
Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) is an American scientist in Japan who tragically loses his wife in an accident at a nuclear power plant. Fifteen years later, we follow his son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) who now has a family of his own in the U.S. After discovering that his father has been arrested in Japan, Ford returns to find a broken man trapped within his own grief and paranoia.
There is more behind the accident that killed his wife, and Cranston’s character has devoted his entire being to uncovering the deep conspiracy. When he finally convinces Ford to help him acquire some old discs from their old house that is barred away in quarantine, we begin to learn more about the creatures of Godzilla. This is when the interest of the human characters begins to fade.
Ford does a nice job acting as our eyes on the ground during the chaos, but that’s essentially all he transforms into. Seeing him trying to return to his wife Elle (Elizabeth Olsen) only to get distracted by another task gets a little tiring despite the fact that it helps push the story along.
The only character that remains slightly notable is Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) who believes that Godzilla is the force destined to defeat the MUTOs while the military simply wants to bomb them all. But eventually even his importance fades away. Because once the monsters are revealed, that’s all we really want to see.
It isn’t Godzilla that we’re first introduced to. While we’re told his background and know that he exists, we instead discover that the old power plant in Japan is monitoring a monstrous being known as MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism). We soon learn, though, that there isn’t just one malicious monster. The MUTO contained at the power plant is a male who soon escapes to reunite with a female MUTO with the intention to reproduce.
These are two terrifying villains in an unprepared world of humans, and while they are fun to see, they unfortunately get more screen time than Godzilla. But when the iconic monster is finally fully revealed, the moment is glorious. The action between the monsters is the highlight of the film, but the cuts happening between monsters and humans is excessive and slightly disappointing. For a while, it doesn’t really feel like a Godzilla movie.
Fortunately this doesn’t last, and in the climax, we get to revel in the action between Godzilla and MUTO, and this is where the movie shines. The appearance of Godzilla is absolutely amazing, and the method of veiling us with silence just before introducing his piercing roar is excellent. More importantly, he is expressive. There are moments when you can look into his eyes and suddenly you can feel what he’s feeling. He becomes a sympathetic character and that’s one of the main things I enjoyed.
This version of Godzilla is a fantastic tribute to the monster’s golden age that introduces a nice splash of modern entertainment on the big screen. Godzilla is one movie you definitely should not miss!