The king of the monsters is back, as the newest American take on Godzilla roars on to the big screen. It's the newest remake/reboot of the franchise here in the United States, the first since the painful 1998 Roland Emmerich version that starred Matthew Broderick and Hank Azaria. This time, director Gareth Edwards is in charge, and it's one of the wisest choices Warner Brothers made when they decided to make this movie.
The newest version of Godzilla starts us off 15 years in the past, when a nuclear power plant disaster takes the life of Joe Brady's (Bryan Cranston) wife. The movie jumps back to the present day, when Brady's son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is about to return to his family after serving as an explosive ordnance disposal jockey for the U.S. Navy. As soon as he arrives home, Ford receives a call about his father's arrest in Japan. He was picked up for trying to enter the quarantined zone where they lived before the plant disaster killed his mother.
Unfortunately, the human story of Edwards' new version of Godzilla is the weakest part. Moviegoers must wait nearly an hour before the big monster even shows up in the film. But when he does, the movie goes into full throttle. This isn't the same Godzilla from Emmerich's much-lamented 1998 movie. This movie gets the beast right. He looks much more in line with the monster who originated from Japan. Godzilla is also really the main hero in this film – not the main threat. He doesn't care about people one way or another. His sole purpose is to hunt down and kill a different kind of monolithic beast that's been awakened thanks to human activity.
The moments that focus on the monsters in this new movie truly shine. They are epic in scale as they do battle in San Francisco. Human and the buildings and vehicles people use are merely obstacles to the enormous animals fighting for survival. You can also feel some empathy for the monsters. It's truly a story of nature when it comes down to it. The role of humans really are insignificant to these gigantic beasts who are basically living on instinct.
Overall, the new Godzilla may seem a little mixed. The human element seems pretty weak through much of the movie, and there are some incredibly unbelievable moments of coincidence that come into play. However, when the big guy finally shows up, Godzilla becomes a thrilling roller coaster ride with some truly breathtaking moments. In the end, seeing Godzilla do battle in a crumbling cityscape is worth the full price of admission.
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