So much of the time, big-budget box office films turn out to be major disappointments. For “reboots” like this, where a familiar story or characters are being redeveloped, the result is too often underwhelming because the director usually reaches for too much and the essence of what was so great about the original is lost. Not the case with Godzilla, though, the $160 million Gareth Edwards (Monsters- 2010) directed creature-feature is a great example of how NOT to spoil a good thing.
Set in modern times, the story uses the premis that a couple of giant cockroach-like creatures buried deep in the earth are re-awakened after eons of hibernation in order to satisfy their appetite for radioactive snacks, like nuclear reactor cores and inter-continental ballistic missiles. These creatures in turn awaken the sleeping Godzilla, who makes it his mission to hunt them down and get rid of them. There are some scientists working on it, and the military, and some kids get involved blah blah…but what’s really AWESOME about it is the WWF-style monster smackdown! This remake doesn’t lose sight of what we loved most about the classic Godzilla movies: Godzilla kicking other monster’s asses! This is supported by a very clever storyline that sees the US military basically helpless against the monsters since they are able to produce very strong EMP pulses, rendering electronics-dependent military hardware useless and the latest high-tech fighter plans literally falling out of the sky. Thus…Godzilla is left to fight mano-a-mano with the monsters, and shows us that he’s smarter than he looks by not showing his whole hand at the beginning, and saving a few surprises till the end (I’ll leave that one to your imagination).
The awesomeness of this movie goes beyond the story and is demonstrated in some of the brave choices the director made. The look and design of Godzilla himself is a prime example. One might expect that with a modern reboot, Godzilla would be remade into a hyper-realistic looking reptilian or dinosaur creature (as has been done before), but here, Godzilla still looks a lot like a guy in a suite….but then not. It’s hard to explain, but let’s just suffice to say that the new rendition of Godzilla is strikingly similar to the original one, but in a way that is really cool and realistic, and not cheesy and B-movie-ish. Pulling this off successfully was a stroke of genius, and Edwards strikes a perfect balance by giving Godzilla a new, updated look while still paying homage to the same familiar Godzilla we all know and love.
I was also impressed with some of the interesting ways Edward’s framed some of his shots. He often filmed the action from an unexpected perspective, such as from inside a vehicle and looking out, so that other objects or characters were in the immediate foreground and the monsters were wreaking havoc in the background, enhancing the huge scale of the creatures. There were also some really cool unexpected moments, like a long shot of a motionless Godzilla being enveloped in fog. His interesting compositions and shooting perspectives, paired with the incredible sound effects gave the movie a very fresh and unexpected feeling, and were a pleasant departure from the run-of-the-mill creature-features being cranked out nowadays. The first time Godzilla looks right at the camera and unleashes his incredible roar is heart-stopping fun.
Godzilla is what it is supposed to be- a really good remake of a classic story that we are all familiar with. Is the acting the best?No. Is the dialogue sometimes a little cheesy? Of course. But it keeps the best things of what we love about the original and gives it a fresh storyline so that it fits in with today and applies modern visual and sound effects to produce an exciting and entertaining film. In the hands of a talented young director who clearly gets it, the end result is surprisingly good. Well done.
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::: Renowned For Sound Technical Director and Film Reviewer ::: Robert is an IT geek, movie fan and part-time movie reviewer/editor. Robert also looks after the ‘behind the scenes’ technical elements of Renowned For Sound.