Genre: Sci-Fi Action
Running Time: 123 mins.
Premise: When a pair of nuclear radiant, skyscraper-size MUTOs (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) threaten to mate and unleash their spawn on the planet, the U.S. military is faced with the decision to bomb them from here to kingdom come, or allow the big lizard that's been tracking the MUTOs (yup, that'd be Godzilla) to take them down.
Behind-the-Scenes: Godzilla's last big-screen reboot, Roland Emmerich's 1998 version, was a flop with critics and audiences. This one takes a much more serious approach and is directed by Gareth Edwards, whose only prior credit was 2010's Monsters, a low-budget, mumblecore travelogue with some creatures at the end. Talk about stepping up to the big leagues - this Godzilla cost about $160 million.
The Good: Any movie about Godzilla has to get the big guy right if it's going to succeed at all. This version nails it. The scale, movement, attitude, sounds, and facial expressions of Godzilla are fantastically rendered on screen, and should leave viewers, young and old, in awe. The visual effects are as good as it gets. Edwards takes a few pages out of the Spielberg filmmakers' handbook, and fills scenes with just the right amount of suspense and wonder. The film has a real Jurassic Park/Jaws vibe to it, and comes as close as any film in recent memory to capturing that kind of movie magic. Many have complained about the lack of Godzilla and the slow build-up to his eventual reveal, but I thought it worked great. Keeps you in anticipation and wanting more. When Godzilla finally does arrive on screen, the movie kicks into high gear and never lets up for a second afterwards. The score by Alexandre Desplat accompanies the destruction wonderfully, and evokes the music of creature features from the 1950s. Sound design is excellent - the Godzilla roar is something you won't soon forget.
The Bad: I don't think it should come as a surprise, but the human characters are way less interesting than they should be. Can't really fault the cast - Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, David Strathairn are all superb actors. But the script saddles them with expository dialogue and dull personalities. If you find yourself bored waiting for Godzilla to appear, that's probably why. The final battle between Godzilla and the MUTOs is satisfying overall, but seems a bit lackluster given the huge wait to get to it. I think last year's Pacific Rim has it beat in that regard.
Should You See It?: Yes. This will easily wash the bad taste of the last Godzilla out of your mouth. A new franchise is born. I just hope Edwards comes back to direct the sequel.
Star Rating: **** out of 5 stars.
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