There’s a frustrating inclination in Hollywood to play it safe and cover old ground with a series of reboots, remakes and sequels every year, which have filmmakers sacrificing their originality and creative licence to merely guarantee more bums on seats. Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla appeared to fall into this category, yet given how exhilarating and breathtaking the film looks up on the big screen – better than Godzilla ever has, thanks to what can be accomplished with modern technology – it more than justifies the existence of this seemingly superfluous production.
Scientist Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) is obsessed by the ongoing, unnatural seismic activity – and following the untimely death of his wife (Juliette Binoche) he becomes determined to prove that such shockwaves need to be ruthlessly examined. We then cut to 15 years later, where his son, Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), is now grown up and returning back home to his wife Elle (Elizabeth Olsen), having served his country. However he jets off instantly to see his father in Japan, who is convinced that the shockwaves have returned – and it seems he is right, as a gigantic, indestructible – and previously dormant – monster rises from the ocean. As the humans struggle to cope, it seems the only thing that could potentially defeat the monster is another monster, so Godzilla is awoken to defeat these malevolent creatures.
Though a truly epic, immense blockbuster, Godzilla is grounded by its intimate, humanised nature as Edwards plays on the notion of the family dynamic and loss. His experience with his more modest-sized debut picture Monsters proves to be beneficial, as he brings that smaller-scaled nature and adds it to proceedings. What certainly helps matters in that regard, is having such talented performers on board, and Cranston steals the show with a hugely empathetic performance: displaying raw human emotions amidst the grandiose setting. However sadly the same simply can’t be said of Taylor-Johnson, who is not only working with a very simplistic, single-layered character, but gives little emotion and passion to the part, and as the lead character it proves detrimental to the overall piece.
Nonetheless, we are distracted from any such shortcomings in character development by the visual experience we are treated to, in a film that looks incredible up in 3D on the big screen. As not only are the effects of the monsters themselves outstanding, but the portrayal of these cities being destroyed by the ordeal is even more so. Effectively, Godzilla is just riotously entertaining and thoroughly good fun, and when it comes to films of this ilk, you can’t ask for too much more than that.