I remember watching the Emmerich and Devlin's Godzilla in cinemas when I was a kid, and I remember my kid brain being happy with how it turned out. Little did I know that I could have had better, that I could have had a Godzilla as his Japanese creators envisioned him.
Fast forward to 2014, and Gareth Edwards' Godzilla has stomped into theaters. Expectations are high, and a lot is riding on this monster of a remake. Is it time for the King of Monsters to make his triumphant comeback to American screens?
Yes it is.
When ancient creatures dubbed MUTOs awaken from their millennial-old slumber, they threaten to send humanity to extinction. Our only hope lies not in man-made weapons, but in a legendary monster whose sole purpose is to restore balance to the world. His name: Godzilla!
Delayed gratification is the name of Godzilla's game. Throughout the first half of the movie we are teased with Godzilla's presence, building up anticipation to the point where I'm literally bracing for when Godzilla appears. When the Big G's foot stomps into the frame for the first time, even the people in the film go silent. He's here. My god, he's here.
And then he does his iconic roar. The cinema reverberates from the sheer force of the sound. And for the first in a long while, I was actually scared to see a huge monster on a movie screen.
There's a underlying tone of helplessness throughout the movie, which is what makes director Gareth Edwards' remake of Godzilla work. 2014 Godzilla is a force of nature, akin to a hurricane or a tsunami. Even his origins are a mystery. He's not some irradiated iguana or anything...Godzilla here is a primordial being from an unknown part of pre-history who only arrives when nature is out of balance, and his fantastical origins only serve to underline how totally unprepared humanity is for Godzilla or the MUTOs. All our swagger and high-powered weapons are rendered impotent by sheer virtue of Godzilla's presence, and we can only watch in horror as these gigantic beasts level cities in their wake, making for powerful imagery.
Speaking of which, Godzilla here is a towering chunk of visual awesome. No more tiny Zilla...2014 Godzilla is given the regal size he deserves. But this legendary monster isn't just about size. Gareth Edwards seems to know this, so he throws in some of Godzilla's signature moves, including an iconic one that you have to see for yourself!
Despite having more screen time than Godzilla, the human element doesn't detract from the awesomeness. Bryan Cranston delivers a powerful performance as grieving engineer Joe Brody, and Ken Watanabe does "introspective Japanese scientist" well as Dr. Serizawa (old-school fans of Godzilla would smile at this nod). The only low points in the acting department are Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen, playing army husband and wife Ford and Elle Brody respectively. They seemed to be the only two people who didn't get the memo that there's big freakin' monsters destroying the world, and their subdued acting sells the movie's premise short.
As I sat in the cinema, I couldn't help but want more of Godzilla here. Big G's screen time is woefully short (depending on how much of a fanboy you are). Even Pacific Rim had more monster screen time. But what little we do get is glorious. Godzilla's battles with the MUTOs are literally pulse-pounding, filling the screen with enough monster vs. monster violence to keep any kaiju fan satisfied. I do wish the movie fights were lit brighter though, as the 3D glasses I wore made everything dark and hard to see. If you've got eye problems like me, you're better off watching 2D to see everything as its meant to be seen.
It may have its shortcomings, but I'm thankful that Godzilla has its metric-ton heart in the right place. Movie fans new to this legendary kaiju are in for a treat, while old-school fans of the Big G can finally stand up and say "Now that's Godzilla!"
The King of Monsters is back. All hail the king!