The march into full on blockbuster season has begun as the balance needs to be restored to the box office. "Godzilla" is a fresh take on the classic monster story that provides audiences with a solid two hours of edge of your seat thrills that are simply transfixing as we get roped into thanks to its massive scope and cinematic moments that border on the operatic.
In the face of an ever changing world, an ancient monstrous force has been awoken that has the power to lay waste to the entire planet. As the military struggle to stay ahead of the path of destruction, they quickly discover that it may take an even bigger monster to set balance to the world once again.
It's such a simple yet, such an intricate and emotionally accessible story that "Godzilla" works on so many levels that it is simply a marvel to let unfurl on the big screen.
Director Gareth Edwards coming off of his debut feature "Monsters" assembles a non-stop thriller that eases us into this world with absolute ease. It's not just a straight actioner as the moral implications and emotional stakes are realistic and believable as it builds the action at just the right pace. The design work on the monsters was absolutely flawless and the action sequences were incredibly well staged. Edwards makes it all mean something and the movie never ever veers into the realm of over the top cartoonish type action, Edwards wants us to feel like we just might be witnessing the end of the world as we know, and it all works so damn well. The film is quite literally a roller coaster of tension and emotion that you won't be able to look away from.
In a refreshing change, the destruction that is wrote in the film has consequences and while the social issues of nuclear power and the subsequent are at the forefront and do play into the narrative, we as an audience aren't battered over the head with it either. We have all the options to take it all in as it comes at us and despite the very end of the film that got a little too studio ending on us it has a truly unique emotional balance because in this ensemble cast in this story we are never quite sure who is genuinely safe as all this action unfolds in front of our eyes.
Nobody in "Godzilla" has a terribly well drawn out character, but they all still serve an incredibly distinct purpose that is vital to the narrative. Aaron Taylor-Johnson seems a little uneasy as a blockbuster leading man, but that fits his character to an absolute tee as he deals with the events of his past which are inexorably connected to what is about to happen in the film itself. Elizabeth Olsen is fine as his wife and emotional anchor back home, while the great Bryan Cranston is his wonderful self as his crazed father who knew this was coming for 15 years after he lost his wife (Juliette Binoche) in a freak reactor accident. The likes of Ken Wanatabe, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn round out the rest of the ensemble in some key roles as it all comes together in this amazing package.
"Godzilla" is much more than a brainless monster movie or popcorn action flick, it is a disaster filled opera of good fighting evil in its purest form. Gareth Edwards has fun with blockbuster action mold and crafts it into a genuine piece of compelling and thrilling art.
4 out of 5 stars.
"Godzilla" is now open in theatres everywhere, check with your local listings for show times.