This weekend, “Godzilla” opened in theatres. Often described as a popular culture commentary on the threats embedded in nuclear power, “Godzilla” was a popular film franchise that started in the 1950s. It originated in Japan, but found captive audiences elsewhere as well. Hollywood made a disappointing big budget version in 1998. But the appeal of the oversized monster fighting all manner of opponents was too good to lie dormant, so sixteen years later, we have another entry.
This version begins in Japan in 1999. American nuclear power plant engineer Joe (played by Bryan Cranston) is concerned about odd seismic events that have the potential to compromise safety. Sure enough, tremors strike and Joe’s wife, Sandra (played by Juliette Binoche), dies in the plant, shortly before it explodes. Years later, their son, Ford (played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson), is in the military and has a family of his own. He goes to Japan to help his dad, who has been arrested. Joe believes there is big cover-up at the plant. He is right, and a creature called a MUTO is unleased. This is a very large radioactive-feeding monster. Of course, the only thing worse than having one MUTO to eradicate would be to have two and to have MUTOs engaged in procreating so that there’s a threat of humankind being abolished, so a second MUTO is unleashed. Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (played by Ken Watanabe) believes that yet another radioactive feeding monster from the sea, Godzilla, can fight and possibly stop the MUTOs. The military wants to use a nuke, an idea Dr. Ichiro opposes. So we now have him and the American military and civilians and a powerful trio of monsters wrestling for power.
“Godzilla” uses every device available to enhance extraordinary special effects. Unlike their predecessors from the old Japanese films, Godzilla and the MUTOs all look very real and scary. The final battle between these creatures is breathtaking.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson is very convincing in the lead role. He is a completely upright hero who is loyal to his father, his family and even a Japanese mother, father and child he meets in the course of his adventures. Bryan Cranston is excellent as his dad, the uncompromising scientist who will stop at nothing to learn the truth about the coverup.
“Godzilla” is a great choice for fans of monster movies.