Reviewed by Kevin Finnerty
“What’s really happening is that you’re hiding something out there and I have the right to know!” screams scientist Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) to security officials as he struggles to uncover the truth about a supposed radiation leak and plant meltdown that killed his wife 15 years ago in the big budget action film, Godzilla.
After the horrible “accident” at the plant, Joe became consumed with finding out just what happened. He stayed in Japan so he could be close to the accident site, and his obsession led his son, Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), to believe his dad had turned into a crazed conspiracy theory nut.
Coming home to San Francisco after being on deployment for 14 months, Ford is looking forward to spending lots of time with his wife, Elle (Elizabeth Olsen), and young son. But that gets cut short when he receives a call from Japanese authorities that his father’s been arrested for trespassing. Exhausted and in need of some downtime with his wife and child, Joe has to set aside his own needs to bail out his dad. Once out of jail, Joe tries to convince his father to come home with him but quickly realizes it’s a lost cause. His begging falls on deaf ears as Joe is determined to go back to their old house – still in quarantine from the meltdown – to get his old discs of information about the day his wife was killed and his life changed forever.
Reluctantly going along, Ford and Joe discover there isn’t any radiation in the condemned area. They also discover the discs Joe’s been obsessed with finding are intact at their old house. Their trespassing doesn’t go unnoticed and instead of the police it’s private security officers who pick them up and bring them to a secured area to be interrogated. This is when Joe refuses to speak to the average security goon and demands to talk to the person behind the glass…which turns out to be Dr. Ichino Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) who it seems does have some sort of giant prehistoric creature under wraps for scientific study.
Of course the giant monster breaks free, something Joe unknowingly predicted 15 years ago when he was monitoring seismic anomalies at the planet just minutes before the meltdown. Dr. Serizawa looks over Joe’s discs, immediately sees the similarities between those events and what’s happening now, and asks for Joe and Ford’s assistance in tracking the massive winged creature that feeds on radiation and is now on the loose. Working with the military who’ve taken over the hunt, Dr. Serizawa reveals to them his theory that an A-list predator – one he has studied for years – will rise from the ocean’s depths to take on the flying beast. His name? Godzilla.
With a B-list cast and a C-grade script, 2014’s Godzilla is a loud, destructive, and at times silly spectacle that should entertain both loyal Godzilla fans and disaster film buffs. The most impressive thing in this reboot of the franchise is Godzilla himself. The look and sound of the King of the Monsters is great. Gone is the man in a bad lizard suit stomping on model cars and toy tanks. This Godzilla is almost as effective and intimidating as the Tyrannosaurus Rex in Jurassic Park.
Bryan Cranston is solid as the grief-stricken husband and father who becomes a paranoid and obsessed man determined to uncover the truth. Not since The X-Files‘ Agent Mulder has a character been so sure – and correct – about a conspiracy. Elizabeth Olsen does a wonderful job of bringing some human emotion to the terror facing her family in San Francisco, the city that’s going to host the showdown between Godzilla and the flying beast. She conveys real fear and shock during the horrific devastation of San Fran.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson is stiff and wooden as Ford, the military bomb disposal expert. He has no on screen chemistry with either Cranston or Olsen. Taylor-Johnson conveys almost no emotion or fear, even when his character is up close to Godzilla or the other creature.
Another problem with the film is the tone and lack of any humor. It’s so rigid and deadly serious that unintentional humor becomes a result. For example, the audience this critic saw the movie with chuckled and giggled whenever Ken Watanabe or David Strathairn said the name ‘Godzilla’ (this didn’t happen with Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong reboot).
Still, with some every impressive CGI and plenty of scenes of mass destruction, plus a very cool nighttime Halo drop into battle-ridden San Francisco, Godzilla is just what it set out to be: a fun, entertaining summer flick.
Godzilla was directed by Gareth Edwards and is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence.
– Also of Interest: Top 10 Godzilla Movies
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