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Godzilla (2014) Movie Review
After the disaster that was Roland Emmerich's 1998 'remake' of "Godzilla" I, admittedly, was not expecting much from this latest release. But I couldn't have been more wrong. From almost the moment the movie began with its grainy images of the classic Japanese movies and real-life footage of the nuclear tests of the 1950s, it became obvious that Gareth Edwards' 2014 movie had something special to offer.
And it didn't disappoint. Forget the 1998 movie, this new one breathes new life into the decades-old monster movie franchise. What does strike me however is that this appears to be less a remake of the old movies but rather a continuation of them. Many of the characters are already aware of Godzilla from quite early on and it is seen as a friend more than a foe in its ability to defeat the other featured monster, the Muto. In addition, one of the first shots of Godzilla itself feature it being escorted through the sea towards the Mutus by US Navy battleships. Though this is cleverly done so as not to be confusing to those who haven't seen the originals. Overall, this is a really fine movie and definitely recommended.
After the introductory sequence showing nuclear detonation, "Godzilla" opens at a collapsed mine in the Philippines where an enormous skeleton has been discovered. The movie then cuts to a nuclear power station in Japan. An accident in the facility causes the entire thing to collapse and, unfortunately, Supervisor Joe Brody's (Bryan Cranston) wife is killed in the accident.
Fifteen years later, Brody's son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) has become a lieutenant in the United States Army. Following the arrest of his Father, Ford travels to Japan to find that Joe has been going into the Quarantine Zone, the location of the destroyed power station and surrounding town. Whilst there, a terrifying monster known as a Muto is awakened and goes on a rampage in Japan and nearby islands including Hawaii.
As the movie unfolds, the colossal monster known as Godzilla is also awakened and soon becomes the only hope the US has against not one but two Mutos. It is truly a gripping experience that is likely to keep the viewer hooked from start to finish.
Excellent Adaptation With Only Minor Faults
As I've mentioned, this movie is an excellent follow-on from the Japanese classics. It keeps the viewer entertained and almost on the edge of their seat from beginning to end with a strong plot and good acting to get that plot across. What is particularly good about it is that, unlike the 1998 version that ignored the original movies entirely, this movie does pay homage to them, both in the fact that this does in many ways appear to be a continuation from the 1954 "Gojira" and in the fact that Godzilla itself looks like the original monster, albeit with a much more modern style. These things alone are likely to delight fans of the original movies.
In regards to the monsters, they are done superbly. A flawless use of CGI coupled with amazing creature-design means that every moment the monsters are on-screen is hugely satisfying. This is particularly true of the movie's final sequence in which Godzilla fights the Mutos against the backdrop of the city. This scene alone makes the entire movie worth watching. It is, in my opinion, a cinematic masterpiece.
Unfortunately, this movie's greatest strength is also its weakness. There are times when a "less is more" approach works but this is not it. For the vast majority of the time there are no monsters on-screen and it is during these times that the movie tends to drag on a bit. But when Godzilla and the Mutos do appear, you will not be disappointed.
Godzilla (2014) Trailer
Overall, I would certainly recommend this movie. It is highly entertaining, thrilling and full of energy and really breathes some much-needed life into the Godzilla franchise. A great story, superb acting and absolutely amazing creature design and CGI all come together to create an epic modern monster movie and one that does the original Japanese movies justice.
However, the fact that the creatures are only on-screen for probably less than ten minutes of the two-hour long movie is enough, in my opinion, to take it down from five stars to four stars. On the whole however, if you have any interest in monster movies and/or Sci-Fi, Gareth Edwards' "Godzilla" is a must-see.