Godzilla (Warner Bros.)
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence
Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn, Bryan Cranston.
Written by Max Borenstein and David Callaham.
Directed by Gareth Edwards.
Everybody run, screaming as you look terrified over your shoulder; it’s another summer blockbuster monster movie, and it will destroy you! Okay, maybe that’s a little hyperbolic - but you have been warned: Godzilla is indeed stomping toward your local multi-screen movie complex…again. I say “again” because it’s been only 15 years or so since Matthew Broderick slayed the giant lizard in the streets of New York (Godzilla - 1998). As computerized special effects continue to improve, more and more film franchises seem to be getting the reboot treatment, so why not Godzilla?
>>>>SPOILERS FOLLOW – YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED<<<<
Set 15 years ago, the story begins as a nuclear scientist named Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) warns his employers at a Japanese nuclear power plant that some recent tremors are not earthquakes, but represent some kind of pattern. The nuke plant does indeed collapse, killing a member of Joe’s family. Flash forward to present day, and Joe’s son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, working as an explosives expert (yes, that will come in handy later) and married to Elle (Elizabeth Olsen), who works as a nurse in San Francisco with the couple’s young son Sam (Carson Bolde).
The tremors return, prompting scientists Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and his assistant Dr. Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins) from the shadowy ‘Monarch’ organization investigate the source. Meanhwhile Joe, driven to near madness from trying to convince authorities that the tremors are not quakes is arrested in Japan, and Ford rushes to bail him out. While in Japan, Joe convinces Ford to return to the nuke site to prove once and for all that he’s not insane. During their visit, they discover the source of the tremors: a huge bug-like flying kaiju (monster) that emits an electromagnetic pulse. The monster destroys the site again, and heads off east toward America.
Ford heads east as well, and encounters the monster again in Honolulu. The US military is also in hot pursuit, but they are not tracking the kaiju – they are following Godzilla, who is swimming through the Pacific on a collision course with the monster somewhere near – wait for it – San Francisco. Godzilla’s agenda is not to trample humans, but to reign atop the monster food chain. The kaiju, it turns out is actually headed there to mate with a female of its species, creating doomsday scenario for humankind. As Godzilla, the kaijus, the military, the scientists and the Brody family converge on the Bay Area, a large battle looms with the world in the balance.
Godzilla is a fantastic, fun movie that harks back to the story lines of the old “man-in-a-lizard-suit” Japanese B-movies – albeit with a pretty cool monster upgrade that is more of an anti-hero than villain. They finally got the monster movie right in Godzilla, making it more of a fight you’d pay to see, rather than just another man-vs-monster movie pablum.
I do take issue with some of the shaky science and all-too-convenient plot hole fillers in Godzilla, but you forget all that when the monsters start wrecking San Francisco.
So, stomp on over to the theater this weekend. Godzilla will thrill you.