"GODZILLA" from Warner Brothers/Legendary Pictures opens Fri., May 16, 2014.
STARRING: Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, David Strathairn, Ken Watanabe, Juliette Binoche and Sally Hawkins.
DIRECTOR: Gareth Edwards ("Monsters")
SYNOPSIS: An epic rebirth to Toho's iconic Godzilla ("Gojira"), this spectacular adventure pits the most famous monster against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity's scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence.
All sorts of emotions run wild inside one's head prior to something this exciting. Ever since the age of four, one has bee familiar with Godzilla. When you're that young, it's not a man in a rubber suit--it's a living hostile beast kicking the living daylights out of Japan. One is too numb to look away, too scared to scream, too curious to run away. It's a life-changing event that one's grandparents have to reassure one that was not an actual live event.
As years pass and more films are released, one can definitely tell that it's a man in a rubber suit. The Godzilla series takes on a life of its own like James Bond. Following 28 Toho productions and 3 American derivatives, director Gareth Edwards has done what director Roland Emmerich did not: he sold a Godzilla that was not a man in a suit.
Emmerich's 1998 production is widely ridiculed and resoundingly dismissed by some of the same critics who were sympathetic to "Caddyshack 2". Apparently, Emmerich's greatest sin was daring to use a real lizard overlaying the special effects and then rely on continuous action to cover weaknesses in the storyline. Granted, it wasn't classic but it wasn't that bad, either. Too many critics thought the film was trying too hard to duplicate the success of Spielberg's "Jurassic Park: The Lost World" from the previous year, a contention that cannot be substantiated. They are two different films. It's possible that Emmerich just wanted to make a popcorn movie that dazzled its viewers--at least the ones not obsessed with over-analyzing it.
Gareth Edwards chose to revert to what worked in the original--character development, a logical explanation for the cause and a "man vs. nature" central theme with horrific consequences. It takes over an hour before the big "G" makes his appearance. By then, the characters have all been introduced, their back-stories established and the scenes all set. Then, there he is--massive, hostile, a freak of nature caused by man's carelessness and arrogance. There are severe consequences, the price to be paid for playing with nature, even to the point of using Godzilla to save man's collective butts.
Best of all, it's not left open to a sequel. There's plenty of room to infer spin-off situations but this is intended to be a stand-alone feature. Edwards outdid himself because he got the point. Stick with what worked in the original, update it and don't mess with history.