Film & TV

Godzilla – Film Review

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla is not what you would expect.

Godzilla begins with Japanese scientist Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) in the Philippines as he discovers the fossilised remains of some gigantic creature. At the same time, in Janira, Japan, nuclear plant supervisor Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) discovers unusual seismic activity and sends his wife (Juliette Binoche) and her team to investigate. There is what seems to be an earthquake which leads to his wife’s death as well as the destruction of the entire plant.

Fifteen years later, their son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is an US Navy explosive ordnance disposal officer returning to the States only to receive a call that that his father has been arrested for trespassing; trying to get back into Janjira, which has since then been quarantined for containing lethal amounts of nuclear activity. They get together to find that Janjira is being investigated by a group called Monarch, who have known about the cause of this seemingly unexplained seismic activity since the fifties, namely a massive creature referred to as MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism). This leads to an across-the-pacific journey where Godzilla (or Gojira), described as an “alpha predator”, is also resurrected, going on an epic chase to hunt the MUTO down.

Godzilla will either exceed all of your expectations or leave you disappointed. But if you’re a fan of great story-telling coupled with a realistic premise, then it should do the former. If you’re expecting a summer blockbuster popcorn flick, then you are absolutely going to get it – but it is a rare sight to behold when a film can cater to the monster-and-action-loving child in all of us as well as providing us with a crisp story teeming with possibilities.

If you’ve seen the 1998 Godzilla, this is absolutely nothing like it. It has a far superior cast (though Taylor-Johnson’s acting could use a little bit of work) and a much tighter script. There are minor flaws which occasionally crop up, such as its under-utilisation of Cranston and the characters in it not evoking as much empathy as they should, but these can be ignored for the epic-ness that the beautiful special effects are leading up to.

The new Godzilla is more a well thought-out monster movie than a Godzilla movie, which only serves to elevate the finished product. The pacing is also progressive, which at a hundred and twenty-three minutes, is saying a lot.

It comes with a rating of 12A which, though a bit on the safer side, is appropriate. There is little to no violence and no gore whatsoever, but plenty of death and destruction; which, if anyone’s seen The Lion King, is hardly something to be concerned about. Except for a few moments spent kissing after the reunion between Ford and his wife (Elizabeth Olsen), there is no other mention or implied references to sex.

If your child is into monsters and mayhem and a bit of harmless fun, then by all means take them to the next screening of Godzilla. The most tantalising aspect of which is that you, the adults accompanying them, will not be bored either. In the end, if you’re expecting a mindless battle of Big Things versus Other Big Things, you’ll still get bang for your buck, but with a little bit of patience and hopefully, a lot more satisfaction.