Godzilla (2014): Legendary

Posted: May 18, 2014 in Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
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godzilla2014_poster2In 1999, the nuclear plant in Janjira experienced seismic activity from an unknown origin. While scientists had found some intriguing skeletal remains in a quarry, there was no known connection communicated between the discovery and the destruction of the plant. Fifteen years later, Joe Brody, who lost his wife at the power plant, returns to Japan to search for answers. His son, Ford, returns home and barely gets any time with his family before finding out his father has been detained for trespassing in the restricted area. Traveling to Tokyo to retrieve his father, Joe convinces his son to explore their old home in the restricted zone to retrieve data that could explain the seismic events from 1999. Upon retrieving the disks, they are detained and taken to a secret facility near the city. While in custody, seismic activity returns to the area and the father and son quickly learn the real threat causing the destruction.

Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Lieutenant Ford Brody), CJ Adams (young Ford), Ken Watanabe (Dr. Ishiro Serizawa), Bryan Cranston (Joe Brody), Elizabeth Olsen (Elle Brody), Carson Bolde (Sam Brody), Sally Hawkins (Dr. Vivienne Graham), Juliette Binoche (Sandra Brody), David Strathairn (Rear Admiral Willian Stenz), Richard T. Jones (Capt Russell Hampton), Victor Rasuk (Sergeant Tre Morales)

While this was a monster movie, this new concept for Godzilla truly focused on the human element and its actors. The greatest attention was paid toward Taylor-Johnson, though he was one of the most even-keeled members of the acting team. He had the most screen time but showed limited emotion, feeling seemingly stiff and overly stereotypically military. On the other end, Bryan Cranston was a force, particularly during his detention scene after returning to his destroyed home. Binoche also had limited screen time but made the most of it during her main scene in the power plant. Watanabe could have also received much more screen time and seemed a little more reserved than he could have been.

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While the acting is definitely part of the film, this monster movie, by Gareth Edwards, is about the monsters and paid homage to the original Godzilla films. The monsters were not the direct focus at the start of the film. While a creature caused the power plant destruction, the seismic activity was just thought to be an earthquake by most. Joe Brody goes through some real turmoil during the event, causing a lifelong obsession with finding out the truth. Fast forwarding into the future, Lt. Ford Brody felt the pressure from his father to investigate his mother’s death as well. Returning to Janjira, they got more information than they were prepared to learn. A spore was being held under surveillance to continue research on the species, but it finally hatched and the monster element officially became unearthed.

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This film included more than just Godzilla. Two additional monsters were introduced to the chaos. The size and scale of the creatures were enormous. If there was one thing in particular that the film did extremely well, it was the special effects and visual presentation. The monsters were realistic and scary. The destruction had the scale of a Michael Bay film but with significantly better presentation. With the monsters not truly showing up until almost a third of the way through the film and with so much of the focus being on the human conflict, there is some criticism for the balance of the story. Even so, the human elements are all necessary to set up the monstrous action. With the creatures consuming nuclear and radioactive materials, the inclusion of the bomb storyline helped to extend the conflict beyond the monster versus monster focus.

This film may be the underrated surprise of the summer. While the scale and action can clearly be predicted, the performances by Cranston and Binoche cannot be missed, but the monsters are truly the main event and do not disappoint.

Dan’s Rating: 4.0/5

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