Godzilla Review: An Excellent Reimagining of the King of all Monsters

May 10, 2014


Godzilla, from Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, is an epic return to form for the world’s most iconic movie monster.  Thanks to our friends at Fan Boy Nation, on May 1st Peter Shinkoda (“Falling Skies”) and I attended an exclusive screening of Godzilla at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, CA.  The screening was followed by a Q&A session with Director Gareth Edwards and Producer Thomas Tull.  “Gareth Edwards: Could be the nicest guy working in Hollywood. Frankly, I don’t know how he navigates through this industry. His graciousness is disarming and his work is exceptional,” said Peter.

“Godzilla,” which stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson (“Kick-Ass”), Oscar® nominee Ken Watanabe (“The Last Samurai,” “Inception”), Elizabeth Olsen (“Martha Marcy May Marlene”), Oscar® winner Juliette Binoche (“The English Patient,” “Cosmopolis”), and Sally Hawkins (“Blue Jasmine”), with Oscar® nominee David Strathairn (“Good Night, and Good Luck.,” “The Bourne Legacy”) and Bryan Cranston (“Argo,” TV’s “Breaking Bad”).

The movie screenplay is by Max Borenstein, Frank Darabont, and Dave Callaham. Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni are producing with Mary Parent and Brian Rogers. Alex Garcia and Patricia Whitcher are the executive producers, alongside Yoshimitsu Banno and Kenji Okuhira.

The movie is told mostly through the eyes of our protagonists, giving the audience an anxious feeling of isolation at times.  Rather than having omnipresent camera angles, where the audience is privy to each part of the story, you often feel cut off from the action and left in a state of confusion and anxiety.  This was a very smart choice to make; it kept the audience more invested in the plight of the populace that is trying to survive this destruction.  Rather than focus on the monsters that are perpetrating it.  It kept me from becoming numb to the mass casualties, as has so often become the case in these tent pole type movies.  “One of the most attractive things about the Godzilla universe, is that it’s an infinite canvas,” said Edwards”  It is very clear that Edwards is Godzilla_Empire_Revealfirst and foremost a fan of Godzilla, and the history of what makes the character special.

The movie is first and foremost a film about monsters, and the destruction they cause.  But in telling this story they chose to spend the first third of the film focusing on the human element, giving the audience a reason to care about the human characters.  Though his time in the film is brief, Cranston’s performance as Joe Brody is fantastic and heartbreaking.  It is the inclusion of A-list actors like Cranston, and Ken Watanabe (Dr. Ichiro Serizawa) that keep the film grounded and believable.  Which brings me to my only gripe about the film, in casting so many fantastic supporting characters it almost feels like a miss that the films main character Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) feels a bit 2 dimensional.  Johnson has better acting chops than were on display during the course of this film and I can only assume it was a conscious decision for the human characters to take a bit of a step back once the monsters became more prominent in the story.
This retelling of Godzilla is very reminiscent of the fantastic comic series “Godzilla: The Half Century War”.  That comic series featured a Godzilla with a very similar back
story, where he was more an unstoppable force of nature than an overgrown lizard looking for its next meal.  In the film Godzilla is written as the protector of Earth that is only awakened from his slumber when other monsters are awakened and threaten the planet.  The comic also has a very similar take on Godzilla.  Both being true to the original source material, in both comic and movie it is our use of nuclear technology that brings about the initial appearances of Godzilla.  Both are fantastic

GodzillaAs we had discussed on the Episode 35 of the Geeks with Wives and Capes podcast, about a year ago Peter Shinkoda  had done some filming for the upcoming feature.  Sadly most of Peter’s scenes hit the cutting room floor, but in his typical positive style he said, “I had anxiety all year about seeing myself in Godzilla, a Japanese created property, and being zipped up in body bag again. I felt Warner Bros. did the right thing by minimizing those visuals from the final cut.”  I’m still holding out hope that he will show up in the Extended Cut we all know will come out later.  Peter just finished filming “Inflection” a Hong Kong shot film, and is currently working on a heavy VFX-laden short with Casper Van Dien, called “Zero Day”.

Godzilla is an instant classic, which can easily stand on its own two enormous legs, and not another blockbuster that has all the hype and none of the heart.  Even with a theater filled with critics the audience erupted with cheers, and clapping throughout.  Often times I was half expecting standing ovations or someone to start the wave.  If Godzilla can win us over, the general population stands zero chance of avoiding its inevitable box office destruction.  Godzilla storms into theaters everywhere May 16th, 2014.

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Story originally posted on FanBoy Nation