Adam Reynoso ’15 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
After being absent mainstream theaters for so long, the King of Monsters has returned in all of his glory in large-scale fashion. Director Gareth Edwards is bringing Godzilla back and is making sure to respect previous incarnations, as well as introduce the character to a new generation. The result is an enjoyable monster-battling spectacle filled with moments that will be sure to please longtime fans and thrill newcomers.
One of the first things to note would be the monstrous sets that made for a wide cinematic scope. The film goes from the Philippines to Japan to San Francisco, as well as other places around the world. The filmmakers do a great job in showing the way the world has been affected by not quite Godzilla himself, but the other monsters who are the real antagonists of the film. The way they tear apart a base in Japan and Hawaii shows just how much of an epic this movie is. In the first ten minutes alone, a building is destroyed, setting up for the destruction to come in the next two hours. Of all the places, it’s at the film’s climax in San Francisco that shows the final battle between Godzilla and the other monsters where the city transforms into a completely torn-up battlefield.
The monsters themselves, called MUTOS (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms), are formidable foes for Godzilla. There are two of them, original monsters created for the film. They are massive and the male one can fly, as well as send electromagnetic pulses that can cause long-range blackouts. The horrifying creatures walk on all fours, with enormous legs. And then there’s Godzilla. The character’s design in this reboot definitely pays homage to the early Godzilla films, especially with the beast’s facial features. It has been said that the background for his texture comes from the nuclear attempts on him, shown in the opening credits. But the way that the film builds up the appearance of Godzilla is brilliant, only showing tiny glimpses until he finally arrives and lets out an infamous roar. The audience cheered and screamed once his presence was fully revealed on screen.
The only aspect of the film that doesn’t fully deliver is its cast of human characters. Perhaps it’s the way they’re written or maybe it’s because the creatures themselves offer more, but the human stories are difficult to empathize with. Leading the pack is Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), trying to make it back to his wife Elle (Elizabeth Olsen), with the monsters coming between them. While it’s not the Taylor-Johnson’s fault, there was just much more going that seemed to divert from the struggles of his character. And in a Godzilla film, it’s hard to outshine the kaiju. However, Ford’s ex-nuclear physicist father, played by Bryan Cranston, is a much more memorable character. The opening scene is a clear stand-out. Cranston has proven he has what it takes in dramatic roles, and the film would have been much more interesting if there had been more of his character present.
It was a smart choice to have Godzilla serve as a way of restoring balance. He wasn’t seen as a villain, but as a god. And he showed why, during his battle with the MUTOS. Buildings falling left and right, the battle completely leveled San Francisco. While it looked as if he might not have be able to win, he came back, roaring with an atomic breath that sent the audience into a cheering roar.
Overall, the film is a fun, adventurous ride. It serves as a great way to bring back the King of Monsters and does a good job at erasing the previous Matthew Broderick attempt out of memory. The film succeeds mainly because it shows how much the director loves the original films and how he wanted to make a film that would be able to fit in with those classics.
Overall Rating: B+