The old fashioned Godzilla is recognizable among generations of movie audiences. And someone in a monster suit knocking down model buildings in the cheaper looking older movies has been replaced by high quality CGI. Those monsters come back this summer in Godzilla and, I’m pleased to say, what a relief! Finally! It has been a while since I have seen a great summer blockbuster movie like Godzilla. For people who like their blockbusters entertaining, effective and not overwhelming, Godzilla is your choice this summer.
Synopsis: In Summer 2014, the world’s most revered monster is reborn as Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures unleash the epic action adventure “Godzilla.” From visionary new director Gareth Edwards (“Monsters”) comes a powerful story of human courage and reconciliation in the face of titanic forces of nature, when the awe-inspiring Godzilla rises to restore balance as humanity stands defenseless. (c) Warner Bros
What I enjoyed about Godzilla was it delivered substantive action and genuine thrills. It is loud when it needs to be and not constantly loud. For summer blockbuster, it has moments that are reserved and low key. Nothing about this is over the top or obnoxious. Audiences aren’t assaulted with stupidity in Godzilla like with other blockbusters. I really liked how the movie cut away and took us to something else going on. It showed restraint and discipline from the filmmakers when it is trendy to assault and exploit on the big screen. If children are drawn to this at least it is safe for them. Any super imposed cheesiness was pretty minimal.
The big budget is displayed on screen. The plot takes time to develop. The opening disaster sequence is actually emotionally engaging and involves actors I wouldn’t expect in a Godzilla movie: Bryan Cranston and Juliette Bionche. However, the casting? It felt like something out of an art house reject movie. (Elisabeth Olson, really!? And what’s Sally Hawkins doing in this!? As she runs around San Francisco, Godzilla could symbolically be Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine wreaking havoc.)
I’m relieved the movie took its time to set up the mystery and showcase a spotlight on the legendary creatures. How refreshing it was over two hours, too. We aren’t bombarded with constant action and a complicated / mindless plot. From a technical standpoint, the crisp cinematography, score and smooth editing that highlight the dramatic tension were the highlights of Godzilla. Think Pacific Rim meets District 9. All the bad memories of Roland Emmerich making a failed monster movie with a mayor Ebert being killed and Puff Daddy remaking classic songs will be forgotten.
My favorite non spoiler scene: Military men sky-dive toward a demolished San Francisco with billowing red smoke trailing behind each one. Those scenes so artistically crafted is what made Godzilla work so well. The little touch reminded me why Godzilla works so well.
I really liked what director Gareth Edwards put into this re-boot. This is his second movie (after the cult hit Monsters) and quite an established artist. This is big budget extravaganza I’d expect from talented filmmaker Neill Blomkamp and not Elysium. I dug the throwback opening credits with redacted information. With the inclusion of the old school Godzilla / military footage, it felt like something out of an Alamo Drafthouse pre-show. Mr. Edwards’ Godzilla demands to be seen on the big screen. (A director like Gareth Edwards respects the original considering he attended the SXSW showing of the original Godzilla in 35MM.) The disaster starkly invokes 9/11 and even hints at climate change. For those who have long work weeks (as I have with my day job), Godzilla was an escape that will be a hit and even earns a sequel.
To my surprise, I rate Godzilla an 8 out of 10.