I was never into Godzilla when I was younger. I had seen bits and pieces of the old films and was familiar with the story but never got into the movies. I did see the 1998 miserable remake that made me care even less about this franchise. When the news of another remake broke I just moved on until the first teaser came out. I gave it a shot and I was glad I did. It was an engrossing trailer that was the definition of teaser. It was well paced and looked incredible, this was a modern Godzilla movie that I could get behind and even get a little excited about. More trailers came out and they just kept getting better, so I knew I was going to be seeing this Godzilla with some anticipation. So, how was it?
Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) is living in Japan with his family as he supervises one of the country’s nuclear power plants. One morning, Joe discovers some weird underground seismic activity that he tries to tell his superiors about. Of course his warnings are ignored and the plant collapses in on itself and Joe’s wife is killed and the town they live in is quarantined. Fifteen years later his son, Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is returning home to his wife (Elizabeth Olsen) from serving in the Navy as a explosive ordinance disposal officer. Home for only a short time, he gets a phone call that his dad has been arrested in Japan for trespassing and Ford needs to come get him. Joe has been spending the last fifteen years trying to explain what the real cause of the disaster at the plant was and is ignored by his son as a crazy man. They both go to the quarantined town to grab something from the old house when they are arrested by nearby military that take them to the plant the world was told was destroyed by an earthquake. When they get to the site, they find out the real reason for the disaster and that something bigger is hunting it.
Visually, this is a great looking film. The action is tight and fun to watch and some of the shots, like the soldiers parachuting down to Godzilla, are inspired. For most of the movie it is just fun to watch the cinematography because there are some truly great shots in this film. The acting is fine but unfortunately has no real stand outs. Cranston is good, but isn’t given much to do. Taylor-Johnson is fine but also not given much to do except move the story along, which he does fine enough. Olsen is given the least to do by just being the one who is constantly running or worrying about her characters husband and son. If there was any stand out performance here it would be from David Strathairn who plays a convincing admiral thrown into being in charge of dealing with Godzilla.
Gareth Edwards has done the impossible in my mind, make a modern Godzilla that keeps your attention and gives the audience a lot to enjoy. He may have said that this was a “global warming” cautionary tale, but that didn’t get through to audiences and you can read why here. Thankfully the director failed in any attempt to preach to us that false gospel and instead gave us one of the better summer movies in the last few years. A true popcorn flick where you can sit back, enjoy the action and check your brain at the door and that’s a good thing.
3 stars out of 4