May 27, 2014 NSR Admin

Film Review Godzilla (12A)

Who would win in a fight, buy cialis a giant lizard monster or Breaking Bad’s Heisenberg? A tough one to call, health but Gareth Edwards seems to be the right man to find out. His debut film, stuff Monsters, was made on a shoestring budget, with all of the visual effects done by Edwards on his laptop, rivalling anything produced by major studios at the time. It also gave a fresh perspective on the ‘giant beastie’ genre, garnering as much sympathy for the creatures as the humans. As such, when searching for the director to helm a reboot of Godzilla, the quintessential monster franchise, many agreed there was no better choice. With enough financing to make his debut over 300 times, the anticipation has been steadily mounting, not least to see what he can do with this new iteration of the iconic colossus.

Bryan Cranston plays Joe Brody, a nuclear engineer obsessively investigating the meltdown of the Japanese power plant he where he worked in 1999. Fifteen years later, he is still convinced that the real cause of the accident has been covered up and convinces his son, Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), to help search for the truth. As conspiracies are revealed, an ancient being is awoken and events spiral out of human control. While Ford, an army bomb disposal expert, attempts to help in any way he can, his wife (Elizabeth Olsen) and their young son await news in San Francisco, unaware that the danger may be coming their way.

In terms of spectacle, Godzilla is unlikely to disappoint. A number of gigantic set-pieces are littered throughout the film, from the tense first-act reveal (reminiscent of Jurassic Park’s T-Rex encounter) to the final battle. The promising young director of Monsters has clearly evolved into a filmmaker with talent to burn, who teases and satisfies in turn, with huge, jaw-dropping vistas leading on from sinister imagery of a cockroach crawling over a toy tank. One particularly anxious scene, involving fog and a railway bridge, neatly shows how quieter moments can be equally effective.

Story-wise, there is less to be praised. While an improvement on Roland Emmerich’s dismal offering, it does not feel as though there was a story waiting to be told. Between each scene of astonishing destruction is a bit of expositionary dialogue, explaining why the next fun bit is about to happen. The motivations of both monster and human seem fairly pointless; our protagonists in particular, rather than leading the story, merely take orders from the higher ranks. Olsen’s wife-in-distress is purely there to give the men something to fight for, while Ken Watanabe stars as a scientist whose PhD must be in monster motivations and how best to explain them. Playing it very straight, Godzilla suffers from some tonal issues: plenty of darkness and despair without acknowledging the ludicrousness of this B-Movie conceit.

Of course, the main attraction will always be the creature of this feature, and Godzilla is bigger and badder than ever before. The new design is an evolution of the original man-in-a-suit design that irons out the kinks to produce a truly fearsome beast. Perhaps the most interesting character, it seems a shame that much of the narrative focus is elsewhere, though this is made up for during the final showdown.

A tense and exciting experience while watching, Godzilla unravels somewhat in post-cinema pondering, as the many merits and visual delights are hampered by a lacklustre story. Not the masterpiece many were hoping for, this is still a thrilling summer blockbuster and Edwards is certainly a man to watch.

Peter Wood