The creation of Godzilla dates back to the 1950s when it first appeared in Japanese films. Since its creation, it has been recreated, reimagined and reinvented for audiences throughout generations. This past Friday, “Godzilla” reemerged taking American audiences by storm. Domestically “Godzilla” is reporting to have earned $93.2 million claiming the top opening of 2014 so far.
Relatively unknown director Gareth Edwards, who is best known for his work on “Monster” (2010), uses all his visual effects knowledge to create a modern classic. Max Borenstein wrote an intricate screenplay to bring Godzilla into the modern era. Borenstein’s writes a biting screenplay highlighting the legend of Godzilla, with the creation of such a monster being the radiation from US nuclear bomb “testing”. He uses this fact mixed with perfectly timed character comments to create a calculated politically and socially conscious movie.
As the movie opens, audiences get the familiar government redaction of documents as scenes roll across the screen of the bombing and attempted destruction of a creature assumingly Godzilla. Just what secrets are the government hiding, this movie makes a calculated although fictional critique of such actions revealing just how deadly such attempted secrets can be. The movie stars fan favorite from “Breaking Bad” Bryan Cranston and English actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson. The pair play father Joe Brody and son Ford, respectively, who lose everything to this “secret” and must attempt to start over.
Jumping to 1999 in Japan, the movie opens on Joe, nuclear physicist, who is studying seismic activity, which is threatening the power plant where he and his wife (Juliette Binoche) work. Being brushed off as aftershocks from an earthquake in the Philippines, Joe believes it is something more and when disaster strikes, his family will never be the same. Joe makes it out alive yet his wife does not. The area is sealed off to research due to radiation levels and Joe’s world collapses, he has no wife and is not able to research to discover the truth of what really happened.
Fifteen years later, audiences catch up with his son, Ford who is returning home from a military tour to receive a call that his father has been arrested. Traveling half way around the world, Ford gets sucked into his fathers “delusions” surrounding the incident and despite his best plans finds himself an accomplice to his madness. The father and son bond is portrayed quite well in this action, summer blockbuster. The movie allows enough time for character development while not lingering too long to lose the audience to the overall purpose and flow of the movie.
As the pair attempts to enter the locked down power plant, they discover that Joe might not be as crazy as imagined and suddenly the action begins to really take off. Despite what audiences might expect, placing Godzilla as the villain and destroyer, filmmakers had a different idea in mind. This cleverly written script reveals that a radioactive MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms) was the dormant beast in the power plant and has emerged creating mass chaos.
Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe), who worked researching at the closed power plant, appears to be the Zen and intellectual center of the movie. He works closely with the US government who step in and takes over (as is to be expected) once the beast destroys what is left of the plant. Watanabe’s character provides just the guidance a movie like this needs to set it apart from atypical action, monster movies. His character provides a different way of thinking than most Western society is used too and when another MUTO emerges; his expertise proves to be a saving grace.
New York City gets a brief reprise from monsters, aliens or unknown creatures destroying its city and San Francisco is where these monsters duke it out. Godzilla appears in this movie as Dr. Serizawa says a “restore[r of] balance”. Despite previous American movies portraying Godzilla as a monstrous beast bent on destroying humanity, this movie creates an alternative and almost “softer” image. Godzilla is a perfect anti-hero, a creature that isn’t to be adored but also not to be feared by mankind. This movie cleverly constructs and creates emotions in the audience to quietly cheer on this beast of nature as he battles it out with the MUTOs.
Like all movies, this one isn’t perfect and void of all flaws. There are character plots and avenues that do not get developed as well as they should or as strongly to trigger ideal emotional responses. Overall, this movie is action packed and a thrill ride from beginning to end. “Godzilla” has returned for the modern age and with the weekend showing is sure to be around for many more years to come either protecting or creating havoc for the Japanese and United States shorelines.