Copyright © 2014 by Warner Bros. Pictures
Scientists Dr Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Dr Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins) from Project Monarch have been appointed to study the origins of a mysterious gigantic carcass in a ruined Philippines mine while in Japan, unprecedented seismic activity is recorded in the Janjira nuclear plant where Joe (Bryan Cranston) and Sandra Brody (Juliette Binoche) work. Sandra and a team of technicians are sent into the reactor to inspect when a tremor occurs and causes a malfunction. The entire team perishes and the plant is destroyed. Suspecting of a cover up, Joe continues to probe for answers in the next 15 years. Now in the U.S. Navy as a bomb disposal officer, Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) reunites with his estranged father to attain the truth on the actual source of the lethal circumstances in the Janjira plant and its connection to the research in Philippines. These MUTOs (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) are roaming Earth that will threaten the survival of the human race. Only the arrival of Godzilla whose existence has been kept under wraps by Monarch appears to be the only hope for man to survive a war between monsters.
Hail to the return of the Japanese legend since its inception into pop culture in the 1950s. The world has been waiting with bated breath for a revival of ginormous proportions after the less-than-stellar performance of Roland Emmerich’s over-the-top cheese fest. Emmerich who just scored an explosive hit with ‘Independence Day’ thought that lightning could strike twice through cartoonish and cliché-ridden characters that spurt fancy one-liners. Well, if you are Michael Bay, you could get away with it but hey, even he had that dud of a movie called ‘Pearl Harbor’.
Ensuring the same mistakes do not happen in this edition, the film makers do get it right with the human drama and Gojira is made a saviour to mankind rather than as the cause to all hell breaks loose. It is refreshing to note on Legendary Pictures’ decision to tackle such projects without compromising on the pictures’ artistic qualities. The first to test the waters began in last year’s equally entertaining ‘Pacific Rim’, a formula undeniably replicated to good use, but not essentially better.
Like its other creature feature, ‘Godzilla’ employs an array of international talent and the ensemble does a fine job of maintaining realism amidst surreal circumstances. The human personalities are surprisingly downplayed to a point of being almost bland. The main protagonists’ ongoing look for concern and nothing else does wear thin after a while. Why bother with a group of accomplished actors when they do not elevate the stakes and intensity? Quite a pity as the quiet strength displayed from Watanabe and Elizabeth Olsen could have been fleshed out further for a greater effect.
Or everyone else for that matter. The best of the lot, Cranston unfortunately leaves way too soon and passes the torch to Taylor-Johnson whose performance can rival that of Keanu Reeves. At least, Reeves’ charm offsets his inadequacies. Of course, the main reason we are even here is to see a big monster battle it out with other monstrosities, WWE style. It does not disappoint when Gojira emerges from the depths of the ocean to save the day (clearly ‘Jaws’ was an inspiration to the watery tribute on both accounts).
Fresh from helming ‘Monsters’, hats off to Gareth Edwards for carefully selecting the right earthy shades to illustrate the devastating condition and the script’s dreadfully serious tone (seriously, movies of this magnitude should just learn to chill). However, props also go to the research on its rich mythology to produce a meticulously written script with enough twists and turns to please even the most diehard of fans. If only the humans are as enthralling as our antihero with the roar. A missed opportunity to be great rather than merely good. Nonetheless, this attempt is still a significant improvement and there is hope for a sequel to do just that.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence