<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Gareth Edwards. Starring Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn, Ken Watanabe
The new Godzilla movie is here. Yet another remake cause the studios just keep trying till they get one that they can spin into two more sequels. With this new incarnation they certainly have found one. And luckily, we’ve got a good film and some sequels with potential to look forward to.
The last Godzilla film was funny and though it was panned by the critics I thought it was an enjoyable enough watch. But this new film about the Japanese reptilian, spawned by the nuclear age, has got critics and audiences up in excitement. And the reason is because they’ve changed direction and given this ‘Gojira’ a bit of a twist. For fans of the original movies and the cartoons you may actually have an incling of what is to come.
In this new film we get not one ‘monster’ but three. Apart from the titular ‘dinosaur’ you get two insect-like M.U.T.O’s (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) who go on the rampage. Godzilla, thankfully is targetting the MUTOs, his natural enemies. Or are they?
Of course there are the human characters in the film who are given some character build up. Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston as Joe Brody is the scientist whose personal tragedy leads him to investigate the real reasons for a nuclear tragedy in Japan that killed his wife (Juliet Binoche). His son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is in the army but has to rescue his estranged dad whose been chasing up leads of ‘monster talk’ 15 years after the incident. And then of course they’re thrust in the middle of the battle of the giants.
Director Gareth Edwards has woven a wonderful mystery-thriller with this film. The tension is palpable and the intrigue about which monster one has to fear and what they’re upto keeps you on the edge. Sure we’d have liked to see more of Godzilla but the screen time he does get is enough to keep him mysterious and engaging, especially with that bone-chilling ‘roar’ of his.
I remember watching the Hanna-Barbera Godzilla cartoons (“Down in the depths, 30-storeys high…” was the title song) and loving them. Godzilla and his nephew Godzuki would rescue the humans and save the day on sea and land.
The film plays with mist and fog, pauses and silence so that the fear is more ethereal rather than in your face with a lot of CGI exploding in front of you. Yes there are the wanton scenes of destruction that we’ve all gotten used to with Hollywood disaster porn and by now we’re all pretty immune to the buildings torn apart and ocean swallowing everything before it.
Some have complained that the film dumbs down the original Japanese movies’ message of nuclear disaster. I think we’re all pretty aware of the ills of the N-bomb by now. What Godzilla does subtly is tell us that it’s man who is the real threat to himself and that we may think we’re in control, but nature always has the upper hand.
After the film the gentlemen seated next to me in the theatre (in London) expressed his elation that the movie was so much like the original films and that even the look of Godzilla matched those. I too was pleased at the new Godzilla. Now let’s hope the filmmakers bring little Godzuki into the sequel!