Happy Friday dear readers! As the Summer movie season officially kicked off several weeks ago with the “event” film (as I like to call them) “Amazing Spider-Man 2“, I found myself at a loss, as usually it is a feature that REALLY gets me fired up for the upcoming season. For those who have already read my review of that film, you know things didn’t exactly send off the fireworks like I expected overall. So, with this weekend, the second “event” is debuting in the form of a modern (but, yes, another) take on a classic movie monster. And so I give you……”Godzilla”.
This time around, the story is directed by Gareth Edwards, who has only helmed one other major motion picture with 2010’s “Monsters“. So I guess it is only fitting he takes on another type of monster in this case. We initially begin with a title sequence taking place in March of 1954 in the Bikini Atoll, where it is shown that the nuclear bomb tests being conducted there were not actually accomplishing what you originally thought, especially from the scientific angle. The story then jumps to 1999, where a Japanese scientist Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and his partner Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins) are called to the Philippines to investigate an incident at a mining site, where a rather large and disturbing discovery has been unearthed, the potential ramifications of which is not lost on Dr. Serizawa when we recall he has had a past with events that are possibly about to happen. Across the sea in Japan, we are introduced to an American scientist and nuclear engineer Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) who has been monitoring seismic activity occurring in an increasing amount of time specifically around their reactors, much to the distress of the site managers, employees, and his wife Sandra (Juliette Binoche), who even has to remind him it’s his birthday as he is SO caught up in trying to figure out what is transpiring. When things take a sudden turn for the worse and a tragic decision has to be made by him, Joe is left broken and lost, even as we watch the reaction of his young son Ford (C. J. Adams), who looks on from his school as the event unfolds with stunned silence. Now we jump 15 years to present day, as we see Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is now grown up and coming home from a Naval tour. A trip home introduces us to his wife Elle (Elizabeth Olsen) and son Sam (Carson Bolde) and just as Ford is about to settle in, a phone call brings the news that his father has been arrested in Japan at the site of the nuclear facility where the events of 15 years ago occurred. So at Elle’s prodding, Ford heads over to Japan to pick up Joe from his incarceration and ultimately we find that he has been prodding around areas that are quarantined, as he is convinced the Japanese are actually covering up something at the site. After convincing a less-than-understanding and impatient Ford to come with him to the site, and finding the “radiation” supposedly present is NOT, they are still only mildly successful at getting what Joe is looking for before BOTH of them are arrested and taken to the grounds of the former facility where not only are certain secrets revealed, but the sudden tremors and seismic activity begin occurring again, and then things REALLY go south as a MAJOR revelation as to what HAS been happening at the site is revealed in drastic form, much to the amazement and shock of Dr. Serizawa and Vivienne who have also been brought to the site to study what has been the center of attention for the last 15 years. And the events that occur here set the pace and tone of the rest of the film, including of course, the first appearance (and subsequent ones) of “The Big Guy”, plus further explanations by Dr. Serizawa as to the nature of Godzilla’s existence and even his purpose in rising (though that WILL be QUITE evident to say the least), and the decisions that are being made even as everything goes haywire. Ultimately, we are really following Ford as he navigates through the craziness going on around him as he gets involved with the military’s efforts to stem the tide of impending doom for humanity all while trying to get back to his wife and son. Per usual, to really delve into details would sadly give away a lot of major plot points, so let your mind and imagination run wild to fill in the blanks if you REALLY are wanting to figure it all out….or just go see the film, of course.
I must say, I have to admit I am surprised at having to state it, but OVERALL……this film left me with the same sense as I had with “Amazing Spider-Man 2”. It ended up just being “Ok” rather than the absolutely earth shattering amazingness I went in expecting. Now, as with “ASM 2”, it is NOT a BAD film, so please don’t read into my previous statement as such. It is visually AMAZING (as you would guess, I saw it in all its IMAX 3D glory). I mean, Godzilla just looked INSANE! He is truly a towering, lumbering monster in this, actually BEING portrayed in the largest size he has EVER been in ANY of films over the years. Just seeing the various ways you get to understand HOW BIG he is compared to object around him was very cool on the IMAX especially. And he does get some trademark moments in there, so don’t fret if you are waiting for the heat to come (I think that’s cryptic, yet NOT, enough). And the other effects in the film were equally incredible to look at in terms of the sheer magnitude of what is taking place in the story. And THERE, JUST like for me with “ASM 2”, is where some things just seemed to fall short. Again, not expecting any Oscars here, folks, but it was the greater overall direction the story went that just didn’t live up to what I was expecting or, frankly, WANTING out of this film. The initial BUILD UP to things was actually quite well done and definitely got me fired up to SEE the first appearance of Godzilla himself, but even THAT was delayed longer than I personally liked and other events they initially get into just kind of killed some of that anticipation, instead delivering more of a “oh, THAT is what we’re going with??” reaction, as opposed to that “AWESOME!!! THAT IS EPIC!!” kind of feeling I wanted to have. The acting is solid enough for the necessary characters, and having those of such caliber like Cranston and Watanabe (as well as veteran character actor David Strathairn as a Naval Admiral), does elevate certain aspects of this, but let’s face it, the ONE thing you REALLY WANT to have screen time, doesn’t necessarily get it as much as you’d think. And THAT WAS disappointing in the grand scheme. But when he DOES show up, yeah, he’s still the big lovable lug we’ve all come to enjoy. LOL So, was I glad I saw it? Yes. Was I impressed visually? Absolutely. Did the film deliver what I expected? Ultimately, no. But, it is still a movie worth catching at least once on the big screen.
As always, this is all for YOUR consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!