GODZILLA

PrintE-mail Written by Grant Kempster


DVD REVIEW: GODZILLA / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: GARETH EDWARDS / SCREENPLAY: MAX BORENSTEIN / STARRING: AARON TAYLOR-JOHNSON, CJ ADAMS, KEN WATANABE, BRYAN CRANSTON / RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 27TH

A perfectly ordinary day in the lives of the Brody family is decimated when the Japanese nuclear power plant where Joe (Cranston) and his wife Sandra (Juliette Binoche) work, collapses. The fallout lasts 15 years in more ways than one as the story jumps to modern day with Joe’s son, Ford (Taylor-Johnson) returning home to the US from a call of duty only to find his father’s been arrested on the other side of the world.

What Ford discovers when he returns to his former home (which is still a quarantine zone, despite the apparent lack of any radiation) is a conspiracy bigger than anything he or anyone could imagine. As a monstrous 15-year cycle finally comes to fruition, Ford finds himself in the middle of a millennia-old grudge match that threatens to tear the world apart, skyscraper by skyscraper.

It’s been 15 years since Roland Emmerich’s brainless crowd-pleaser trampled all over Godzilla fans’ expectations, seemingly destroying any chance that the much-loved behemoth had of making a killing at the box office. Then Monsters came along and someone at Warner Bros thought it would be a great idea to hand low-budget indie director Gareth Edwards the gig of doing just that. Because, you know, he made a movie called Monsters and everyone liked it.

The result is somewhat of a hodgepodge. There are things that work exceptionally well and surpass not just the 1998 movie but any movie vaguely inhabiting the same genre, but there are also elements that just suck the life out of you.

The predominant problem throughout Godzilla is the pacing. When stuff happens it’s jaw-droppingly amazing, but when it doesn’t, you’ll find yourself checking your watch. Coming a close second is the characterisation. Despite ably infusing a heart-breaking piece of human drama within the opening 30 minutes, the main protagonists soon dissolve into two-dimensional caricatures that manage to force you to suspend disbelief even more than the gargantuan monsters that eventually show up to pummel the city. And there’s the final problem; the globetrotting. Clearly attempting to solve the problem of continually having to destroy giant buildings, the writers settled on shifting the action from continent to continent, all of which has Ford (who at this point might as well be Superman) inexplicably along for the ride.

With all of that said, the action sequences featuring Godzilla and his surprise adversaries are breath-taking. While the 1998 film understandably took its inspiration from Jurassic Park, this incarnation uses Cloverfield as its yard stick, and then takes it far further. The destruction sequences are so immersive, you feel as if you’re there, witnessing the destruction (and not a found footage gimmick in sight) thanks to some keen camera angles and the liberal use of monster-induced natural disasters we’ve seen happen far too often. A sequence at an airport, in particular, is certain to blow you away.

Is this Godzilla better than its 15-year-old cousin? Without a doubt. The story is less dopey, the action is far more compelling and the titular monster itself is far more faithful to its roots (both physically and emotionally). It is though, far from a perfect film. Maybe Godzilla 2 will get it right.

The DVD release sports two featurettes: A Whole New Level of Destruction which focuses on the film’s elements of carnage, while Ancient Enemy: The M.U.T.O.s looks at the film’s other monsters and their inception. They’re interesting enough, but at just 8 minutes and 6 minutes a pop, they really don’t provide much added value. The Blu-ray, however, also features MONARCH: Declassified and The Legendary Godzilla which provide a more in-depth exploration.


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