GODZILLA (2014) Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, David Strathairn, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, Juliette Binoche Directed by Gareth Edwards
In 2010, British director Gareth Edwards debuted his feature film "Monsters" at South By Southwest. The story about giant alien monsters along the US-Mexico border was impressive looking for a film made for under $500,000. The "less is more" approach by Edwards gave us just glimpses of these creatures until the later part of the film.
In this new reboot of the Godzilla franchise, Edwards was given a little more money to work with ($160 million) but the formula remains the same. "Less Is More." Over an hour of the film goes by before we get to see Godzilla, however there are two other monsters in the film, MUTOS, which stands for Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms. The name sounds kind of silly but it's classic Godzilla lore that means mutated versions of the "Kaiju", a Japanese word that is usually translated as "Monster." The insect looking creatures resemble a cross between a praying mantis and Gyaos, the Japanese monster from the 1967 film "Gamera vs Gyaos". One is a male that flies and the other a female, both chomp down on nuclear weapons for lunch and the two are on a mission to mate while destroying most of San Francisco.
Edwards keeps the anticipation level high by teasing the audience several times during the film with glimpses of Godzilla and the MUTOS either preparing to battle or going at it, so when the epic battle does take place it is a cheering and applause worthy moment. Fans of the franchise will be waiting for that signature Zilla move and when it happens, watch the audience react with overwhelming enthusiasm.
The monsters are the stars of the film and the CGI effects look spectacular but Gareth Edwards also assembled a great cast of actors that normally you wouldn't see in a big blockbuster type film like this. Bryan Cranston from Breaking Bad chews up the scenery as Joe Brody, a nuclear engineer who suspects the Japanese government is covering up something, French actress Juliette Binoche plays his nuclear engineer wife Sandra. Then you have Japanese actor Ken Watanabe as Dr Ishiro Seriwaza, he's a good actor but he isn't given much to do in this film but look perplexed, Sally Hawkins who was great in last year's "Blue Jasmine" is Dr Ishiro's assistant, and she also is kind of just hanging around. The talented Elizabeth Olsen and David Strathaim are nice additions to the cast, but it's Aaron Taylor-Johnson who gets the most screen time as Ford Brody, a Naval ordnance expert and son to Joe, you may remember him as Dave Lizewski the nerdy crime fighter from the Kick-Ass movies, well he's all grown up and doing his best to save the world. Once again a great cast that really doesn't do too much.
As with director Gareth Edwards debut film "Monsters" there are scenes in Godzilla that are reminiscent of Jurassic Park and I do like his "wait for it" approach to build tension and suspense, it's a move that can backfire if there is no real payoff but fortunately there is and it looks pretty good in IMAX 3D.
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