To say I was excited for the new Godzilla reboot would be an understatement. No film has brought out the inner-child in me for quite a long time, and well, this one succeeded on all levels. Not only is it a fantastic reboot of a 60-year-old franchise, but it is an astounding piece of filmmaking that is surely one of the best summer blockbusters in a long time.
Throughout the film we mostly the Brody family, comprising of Joe (Bryan Cranston), Sandra (Juliette Binoche), Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), and Elle (Elizabeth Olson) as they each struggle with their own dilemmas in the fight against Godzilla and the other monsters. On the other hand we have Ken Watanabe playing Dr. Serizawa, an ode to the character in the original 1954 film, and Sally Hawkins as his partner Vivienne.
The film essentially follows the narrative structure of Jaws, as well as the original Gojira, which means that we get teases and tastes of Godzilla and the other monsters throughout the film without showing us too much of what will inevitably come. The monsters in this movie look menacing and awe-inspiring; there were multiple times where my jaw actually dropped. Godzilla is bigger than ever, supposedly reaching 350 ft, the largest incarnation ever, and he also features a terrifying new look. The first time we see the full stature and we hear that classic roar, I got chills. It was magnificent in the way they built up the anticipation, and much like the marketing campaign, it really pays off in the final battle scenes.The CGI and sound effects in this film are top-notch, and seeing it in IMAX truly amplifies these to an even higher level. Much of this can be owed to director Gareth Edwards, who prefers to direct smart instead of explosive, that is until the absolutely destructive finale.
While there is a lot of focus on these monsters in attempts to make them interesting, the human characters feel rather bland. Ford is a soldier who simply cannot find his way home, and a lot of his material is not anything new or exciting. Most of the time I was focusing on Godzilla fighting in the background of the scene instead of caring what he was up to. His wife, Elle, is really an unimportant character in the film. She only serves as something for Ford to get back to instead of carrying any weight. Most of her scenes comprise of her running in fear and crying about her missing husband.
Dr. Serizawa however is one who sees good in Godzilla. While many were trying to kill him, he sees a sort of anti-hero in him. He also utters the best line in the movie, but I won’t ruin that for you.
Now, most summer blockbusters feature a lot of explosions and action and whatnot. Godzilla does not disappoint in that. It does however contain some of the best acting thanks to some early scenes involving Bryan Cranston who surely steals the spotlight until Godzilla shows up. His performance is so powerful and heartbreaking, you almost forget that this is a Godzilla movie. It is a testament to his abilities of an actor to create a truly interesting and heartbreaking character based simply on his performance in a movie that does not focus heavily on human characters.
In the end, Godzilla is a phenomenal film. While the human characters may be poorly written at times, let me ask you this: are you really going to a Godzilla movie because you truly care about what the humans are doing? With its immense destruction, totally awesome monsters, and a couple scenes of heart-wrenching acting, it stands out as one of the best blockbusters this year, as well as a stellar reboot to a franchise that has seen its fair share of ups and downs. Go see this movie.