In 1954, Godzilla made movies history is his first Japanese monster movie. This week, the beast made history again by making a $93.2 million debut with the new American made movie. There have only been two American made versions of big lizard. The first was created in 1998 and starred Matthew Broderick. Many were disappointed with that one including Den Devlin, the co-writer and producer of the flop. In a 2012 interview with Entertainment Weekly he said, “I know I screwed up my Godzilla. I’d be very happy if they pull it off and do a great one. I always wish I had another shot at it.”
So, after all these years, was it worth the wait? It depends on who you ask.
Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures partnered to bring the legendary beast back to life bringing Bryan Cranston along for the ride. Directed by new director, Gareth Edwards, Godzilla is described as a “powerful story of human courage and reconciliation in the face of titanic forces of nature, when the awe-inspiring Godzilla rises to restore balance as humanity stands defenseless.” Wow. That makes it sound pretty important doesn’t it?
The film begins in 1999 as scientists Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins) investigate a huge beastly skeleton and two egg-shaped pods in the Philippines. Then quickly, the film moves to the Janjira Nuclear Plant in Tokyo, Japan where seismic activity is causing havoc to the plant. The plant supervisor, Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston), sends a team of engineers, including his wife Sandra (Juliett Binoche), to see if any damage has been done. An earthquake (or a giant monster?) causes an explosion and a huge evacuation takes place including the grade school (with a view of the plant) where Joe’s son goes to school. The story then jumps to present day where Joe’s son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is all grown up and has a family of his own. Ford is an explosive ordinance disposal officer in the Navy, is married to Elle (Elizabeth Olsen), and lives in San Francisco. He is estranged from his father due to that event that happened in ’99. Even so, he is called upon to bail his father out of a Japanese jail. Reluctantly, the pair continue to invest ate similar events happening at the long abandoned site…or is it? Do I really need to tell you that it isn’t an earthquake making all of this ruckus?
So, is Godzilla a bad movie? No. Is it a great movie? No. It is what it is – mostly scenes of people running away from giant creatures with little if any character development. Yes, many scenes are impressive and it is surprisingly “okay” to bring your children – provided that they aren’t afraid of giant lizards. There is lots of destruction and chaos, but not a lot of blood or cursing, believe it or not. It definitely captures the look and feel of an old monster movie with more traditional “monster movie” music styled from long ago.
While I thought the film was just “so so,” the audience surrounding me totally disagreed. The film is way longer than it needs to be, characters are barely fleshed out and it takes itself a little too seriously. Cranston is obviously the big draw for this film, but if you’re planning on going just to see Cranston, wait until the movie comes out on video as his role is fairly small. Still, it’s fun to see something that is just frivolous and “safe.” It’s not like you’re going to have giant lizard dreams after watching this.