News

REVIEW: ‘Godzilla’ draws from classic creature features

REVIEW: ‘Godzilla’ draws from classic creature features

Photo: YouTube

Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi | Run Time: 123 min | Rated: PG-13
Director: Gareth Edwards | Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, Juliette Binoche, David Strathairn

By: George Wolf

Movies love to depict our fear of science, a trend that dates back to Edison’s 1910 rendition of Frankenstein. But the real frenzy came with the onset of the atomic age.

Among the countless “creature features” spawned by our global fear of the destruction science had wrought, Godzilla reigned supreme. Ishiro Honda’s Hiroshima analogy simultaneously entertained and terrified as it tapped our horrified fascination with the destruction, once unthinkable, that was suddenly an ever-present danger.

Back in 2010, visual effects maestro Gareth Edwards tread similar ground of societal guilt, dread and terror with his underseen alien flick Monsters. More than anything, though, that film clarified his aptitude for creature action, a talent that serves him well for his Godzilla reboot.

He’s assembled a phenomenal cast for the monster mash up, though I’m not sure why. Top-notch actors Ken Watanabe, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn, Juliette Binoche and Aaron Taylor-Johnson appear onscreen (and do little else) as we wait for the epic battle between Godzilla and two new creatures with a taste for radiation.

Taylor-Johnson is a military bomb defusing expert who leaves his wife (Olsen) and their son behind in San Francisco to fly to Japan to bail his crazy scientist/grieving widower father (Cranston) out of jail. He’d been caught trespassing on a site quarantined for 14 years – ever since the nuclear reactor disaster that killed his wife.

Well, there’s more to that story than meets the eye.

The talent-laden cast doesn’t get the opportunity to flesh out their characters, so there’s little human drama to cling to as chaos approaches. Perhaps even more damaging, Max Borenstein and Dave Callaham’s screenplay fails to truly lay blame for this behemoth blood match on mankind.

Flaws aside, Godzilla delivers the creature feature goods. Few summer blockbusters contain such gloriously realized action sequences, gorgeously framed images of disarray, or thrillingly articulated beasts.

Edwards never hides his inspiration (the lead’s name is Brody, for goodness sake). While he draws from Jaws, Aliens, Close Encounters, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and any number of previous Godzilla efforts, the amalgam is purely his own.

This is an easy franchise to take in the wrong direction. Who remembers Godzuki? But Edwards brings a competent hand and reverent tone to breathe new life into the old dinosaur.

Verdict-3-5-Stars

Read more movie reviews at MaddWolf.com.

Recent Headlines

in Sports

INSTANT REPLAY: The week’s best sports photos

cavaliers

A look back at some of the week's biggest plays in sports and the moments you may have missed.

in Sports

This weekend’s sports schedule

hockey

Here's a look at some of the big sporting events taking place this weekend.

in Sports

Sepp Blatter wins re-election as FIFA president

FIFA president Sepp Blatter speaks during a press conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Friday, Dec. 19, 2014. FIFA will not reopen the vote for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, and will publish at least some of the confidential report into the bidding process, Blatter said Friday.

Sepp Blatter's FIFA re-election came despite demands that he quit in the face of a major bribery scandal.

in Viral Videos

Paralyzed student walks across stage at college graduation

10-overlay5

Injured playing football in 2010, Christopher Norton walked across the stage with help from his new fiancée.

in Music

Stars salute Pete Townshend

24-overlay6

The Who star was honored with a special concert for his longtime work with the MusiCares charity.