Godzilla regretted lighting his farts...In 1954, a cinematic icon of spectacle was created in the form of Toho’s Godzilla. Since his first incarnation, the big guy has faced many a foe, ranging from King Kong, to Mechagodzilla, to Roland Emmerich. The radioactive reptile was ripe for another crack at the big screen, and in an age where everything from your childhood is getting re-sized and re-booted, it was only a matter of time before Godzilla got a chance to stomp around city landscapes once more. The man for job? The director of indie-breakout hit Monsters; a lo-fi Sci-Fi set within a Quarantined Mexico which has become host to a race of Extra-Terrestrial beings. The film carried with it a subtle grace and wellrealised creatures which gave the film a unique personality all its own. His Godzilla, on the other hand, is not quite as unique a beast. While serviceable to a degree, this Godzilla rarely plays to its strengths, resulting in a lot of foreplay, but little in the way of a satisfying climax. (Quit giggling in the back).

When a series of unexplained Earthquakes demolishes a Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, claiming the life of his wife, physicist Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) spends the next 15 years of his life trying to find out what caused the event. On the brink of a break through, he is reunited with his estranged Navy Lieutenant son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) just as all hell is unleashed. When a mysterious creature is awoken, Joe and Ford  find themselves in the middle of an event which could send the human race back to square one. Determined to return to his family, Ford helps with the fight on the ground. But, nature has its own secret weapon under its sleeve in the form of Godzilla, a prehistoric being who looks set to restore balance to the order of nature.Fear struck the pair as they realised Godzilla wouldn;t be coming in for another hour.

Much of Edward’s Godzilla aims to evoke blockbusters of the past, namely those courtesy of Steven Spielberg, as demonstrated by the progression of the first act of the movie, which aims to convey a similar build-up of tension akin to the likes of Jaws and Jurassic Park. We are teased appearances of the big man himself for quite some time, with the opening third seemingly more committed to fleshing out our human characters, with whom we spend most of our time with. The only problem though is that they are in no way interesting enough to both hold our attention and justify why we are spending so much time with them. It it a commendable move to frame a Godzilla movie from the ground of the people involved, but if you’re going to do it you’re going to need characters with an interesting dynamic, the charisma of a Tom Cruise, the appeal of a strong female character, and so forth. This film simply does not have the strength in character it needs for such an undertaking to occur, and much of that comes down both to script issues and casting choices.

The script, based on a story from David Callahan and formed by Max Borenstein, is hardly the greatest piece of blockbuster screenwriting we have ever seen. It demonstrates very litter concern for developing allegory or a note-worthy degree of social relevance that the ‘grounded’ aesthetic would seem to suggest it contains. Not only that,  it does not allow the strongest characters and performances (namely Bryan Cranston) to be more involved, and seems content to assign some characters to be nothing more than exposition spouters, or individuals who have a hard on for anything Kaiju related (Sally Hawkins and Ken Watanabe fall prey to these camps), leading to characters who are either poorly motivated and/or one dimensional. The worst aspect though has to be with the very lazily formed characterization of the main lead and his family. The character of Ford has 'Move bitch. Get out the way.'very little personality, giving character actor Taylor-Johnson incredibly little to work with, resulting in a bland performance that struggles to convey anything beyond face value. Even worse treated are the talents of Juliette Bincohe and Elizabeth Olsen, both of whom are utterly wasted in small, superfluous roles that do not make the use of their immeasurable talents.

A lot of the issues with character would not have been a problem if it wasn’t for the tone and personality of the film in which they are contained. I adore Pacific Rim, but the characters are stock and cheesy. However, the jovial tone and knowing sense of ridiculousness struck in the film allowed for the ridiculous characters to feel as though they belonged in the universe they inhabited. Edwards’ Godzilla, for all its ambition, occasionally stunning imagery, simply doesn’t know if it wants to embrace the B-movie origins of the big guy’s past, or strive for a more grounded aesthetic. Blame Christopher Nolan for this type of confliction within any franchise reboot in contemporary Hollywood cinema.

The monsters themselves are possibly the film’s strongest asset in terms of personality, but there is still something distinctly Stubbing your toe... even painful for radioactive lizards.lacking. The final fight feels more organic than most monster mash-ups, and it is a relief to finally seem them go a round (hell I wish I could make that plural). The VFX is near flawless, with Edwards background in that department clearly shining through, presenting creatures to awe at, even if the film doesn’t allow you too. It is by no means a failure of a reboot, the first hour builds nicely to a certain degree, and the monster-smash moments are serviceable. But is that enough for this certain Zilla to truly earn his place once again in audience’s hearts? Simple answer; hell no.

3/5- A serviceable kick-off to the summer season, but this is a Godzilla movie that fails to truly leave its mark.

 

 

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