It has now been 60 years since moviedom’s most gigantic monster laid waste to Tokyo in the original Japanese film “Godzilla.” The radiation born behemoth’s popularity spawned a recut with Raymond Burr for a US release and a host of sequels and remakes from both Japan and Hollywood. One may ask why Hollywood has returned to that well yet again, especially after the gigantic mess delivered by Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin in 1998. While this “Godzilla” doesn’t answer that question, it does deliver a worthwhile sci-fi adventure creature feature.
Some serious actors work to uncover and deal with the secrets implied by the cleverly redacted opening credits. First up are “Breaking Bad’s” Bryan Cranston and Oscar winner Juliette Binoche as married scientists Joe and Sandra Brody investigating anomalies at a Japanese nuclear power plant in 1999. Fifteen years after that plant’s destruction, we then find Joe obsessively searching for the truth behind the disaster. His son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), just home on military leave, unwittingly joins him in his quest which ultimately unearths some astoundingly giant monsters headed for an epic battle.
Oscar nominees Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins and David Strathairn join the overly large cast as well as Elizabeth Olsen in the disposable role of Ford’s wife. They keep things earnest if not scary in a mostly fast paced and interesting thriller. Unnecessary shots and action involving a dog, random people and Ford helping a little boy separated from his parents bog things down. There are also some unintentional laughs such as a ridiculous illustration showing the monster’s “sphere of influence” and a large string of highly visible red Chinese lanterns that withstand a barrage of violence and destruction around them.
Godzilla appears curiously late in the film with most of the attention given to a huge insect-like monster. His physical size is more massive than ever before, but his role is smaller than you might expect. Yet he’s worth the wait. There’s a super moment when he takes a close look at Ford before disappearing behind a closing curtain of smoke. He also delivers one particularly unexpected and crowd pleasing blow in the exciting climax. If you’re looking for big-time monsters you’ll have to be patient but this is just your ticket.