When the 2014 remake of Godzilla was first announced, I wasn’t entirely certain whether this was exciting news. It could have easily turned into a disappointing attempt to add the enormous disaster-boding monster to a canon of over-used fantastic/sci-fi creatures and fictional figures from literature and films.
OK, the truth is that the huge CGI monster of Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla is definitely worth seeing. It is breathtakingly huge and loud. Its scale and the details of its design make some of the most impressive shots of destruction in the film quite spectacular as the monster strides through San Francisco. From the moment of Godzilla’s first appearance in the story the film makes it one of its missions to sketch out a personality for the monster through several shots of its scaly and scarred face. Nevertheless, in this plotline Godzilla is not what signals the catastrophic results of humanity’s disastrous experiments with nuclear weapons and radiation. Instead, this time around the monster faces the results of these irresponsible experimentation along with the rest of humanity, suggesting the mutations it has undergone over the last few decades and film representations.
This time round the symbol of man’s incompetent and fatal experiments is what Ken Watanabe’s Dr. Ichiro Serizawa identifies as the couple of MUTOs (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms) that terrorise the world. These are also the cause for the family drama and troubled relationship between father Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) and son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) that takes place in Japan years before Godzilla’s first appearance in the film. Once again, just as the title monster of the film, the MUTOs are equally detailed and impressive in their design and role in the plotline. In fact, they become the key reason for Godzilla’s appearance in the film.
…the relationships that are sketched out in the fast-paced plot are informative enough for the audience to continue watching…
The film doesn’t rely only on the highly detailed monsters it has created for its audiences’ delight. Although it is simple, its storyline gives a plausible (within sci-fi/disaster movie limits) explanation for the battling monsters on the screen and their origins. By incorporating the family drama of Ford’s past and that of his present, involving wife Elle (Elizabeth Olsen) and son Carson, there is another storyline to be concerned about as the film progresses. Even though their family life is not depicted in detail, the relationships that are sketched out in the fast-paced plot are informative enough for the audience to continue watching without wondering why these characters are involved in the battle against the powers of nature and their progeny. Well, it does seem quite convenient that when the US commando team needs to disarm a bomb, Ford happens to be a specialist EOD technician, but still it makes for a convincing enough reason for him facing both the MUTOs and Godzilla amid their battle. There is also an almost heart-warming moment when Ford and Godzilla exchange look at a climactic moment of this battle between humanity and, well, its worst mistake.
This simple plot and the iconic status of Godzilla as THE disaster movie monster is also probably what attracted performers like Juliette Binoche, Bryan Cranston, Taylor-Johnson, Olsen and Watanabe. This new take on Godzilla’s original story doesn’t present you with a sophisticated plot with many narrative lines but nevertheless aims for an inventive take on the original of 1954 and it delivers a story full of action and spectacular visuals (even the original name Godjira is heard once in the film, courtesy to Ken Watanabe). The characters and their simple relationships are something to be excited about while waiting for the huge monsters to appear on screen and the MUTOs present a little twist into traditional expectations. On the other hand, the monsters themselves are brilliantly designed and created. Edwards’s film manages to combine the already well-known background story with some new elements – something that is hinted at in the very beginning through the opening credits.
…it’s a fun film that will deafen you with its roars…
All in all, it’s a fun film that will deafen you with its roars and entertain you in its critical moments, leaving you waiting on the edge of your seat while humanity faces the outcome of its worst mistakes feeding on its failed experiments.