Reviews for the Easily Distracted:
Best Godzilla Movie. Go. The 1954 original, of course. But I'm willing to consider any film that doesn't have Minya in it.
Rating Using Random Objects Relevant to the Film: Four and a half flying dropckicks out of five.
Brief Plot Synopsis: Radioactive behemoth points up the folly of man.
Tagline: None. The King of Monsters needs no such gimmicks.
Better Tagline: "Oh no, there goes...San Francisco."
Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: In 1999, a "seismic incident" caused the destruction of the Janjira nuclear plant outside Tokyo. 15 years later, former Janjira physicist Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) is still obsessed with what he believes to be a cover-up as to the true cause of the disaster that killed his wife Sandra (Juliette Binoche). His now estranged son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). a Navy explosive ordnance disposal tech, has to leave his wife Elle (Elizabeth Olsen) and son back in San Francisco to collect Dad from Tokyo police for trespassing at the nuclear plant. Unfortunately, Joe -- like most movie conspiracy theorists -- is correct about there being Something Out There.
"Critical" Analysis: You've been hurting, I know.
I'm right there with you. We probably both went to see *that movie* opening weekend. The one with the giant iguana and the shitty Wallflowers song and Matthew Broderick during his Addicted to Love - Inspector Gadget career nadir. As lifelong fans of the King of the Monsters, it almost felt like we'd have to content ourselves with waiting for the Criterion release of the original or -- in later years -- trying to obtain copies of newer Toho films (GMK: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack was surprisingly awesome). After all, you survived Godzilla vs. Megalon, you'd make it through this.
But I'm here to tell you, it's safe to trust again.
Gareth Edwards has done something beyond making one of the most enjoyable Gojira movies in years, he's redeemed the West's legacy concerning the Big G. No longer will people point at the 1998 Roland Emmerich atrocity and say we couldn't get it right. Godzilla captures both the spirit of the original and the devastating scope of what happens when a pissed off, 350-foot tall, radioactive monster puts his foot down, literally and figuratively.
Edwards wisely hearkens back to the first Godzilla: in the opening credits sequence (set in 1954 and chronicling the beginning of "Project Monarch"), with the monster's nuclear origins, and in teasing out his eventual appearance. Much like Spielberg in Jaws, Edwards takes his sweet ass time showing us Godzilla in all his glory, which some people see to have a problem with. To them I say, go make a YouTube playlist and let the rest of us enjoy the majesty of the full reveal.
The opening act introduces two ROUS's ... sorry, MUTOs (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms), insectoid nuclear parasites bent on getting some Keymaster/Gatekeeper action going. The end results, of course, would be bad for the planet, to say nothing of mankind. Fortunately, Earth's most ancient "alpha predator" isn't just going to stand by while the the world is overrun by giant glowing cockroaches.
Is it perfect? Of course not: Taylor-Johnson isn't exactly a white-hot grease fire of pure entertainment, which probably has something to do with first-timer Max Borenstein's amateurish script. Many of the humans -- Cranston and Binoche excepted -- don't offer much aside from gaping at the carnage, Tokyo Storm Warning style. This is perhaps most disappointing with regard to Ken Watanabe, playing Dr. Serizawa (a name that should be familiar to G-Fans), who does little other than look shell-shocked and mutter about "the arrogance of man."
Though he does have the best line: "We call it ... Gojira!"
By invoking the portentous atmosphere of Ishirô Honda's classic, Edwards sets a mood that's 180 degrees removed from Emmerich's turd. The threat to humanity is established with the danger to Brody's wife and son, but plenty more men, women, and children are imperiled in the battle between Godzilla and the MUTOs. And so what? This isn't Gamera, people.
Yes, Godzilla is bigger (in the next movie, he's going to need to be 1200 feet tall, just so he can reasonably threaten the Burj Khalifa), but more importantly, he's Godzilla. Thicker neck, flatter nose, and roomy hips aside, the monster is recognizable as the one we've (I assume you're with me on this, if not, you're incredibly patient) loved for years. The roar is back, the doom-filled score (courtesy of Alexandre Desplat and not a collection of flavors of the month) is back, the breath -- wait for it, it's worth it -- is back.
Maybe you don't care about any of this. Maybe your dad didn't wake you up at 10:30 on Friday nights when you were a kid to watch whatever kaiju movie was on the weekly "Creature Feature." Maybe you didn't weep tears of anger when that stupid ape emerged victorious from the ocean in King Kong vs. Godzilla. Maybe your soul is simply a scorched crater which absorbs joy like a black hole. For everyone else: hail to the King of the Monsters, baby.
Godzilla is in theaters today. Can I get a SKREEONK?