2 StarsGodzilla is a visually stunning movie that dramatically peaks early and then settles for a routine CGI fest that includes battling monsters against a crumbling city skyline. For those picky fans that thought Roland Emmerich’s 1998 film of the same name was derivative, ungainly, and overlong–the latest rendering falls victim to the same perils. Working from a script that runs out of ideas early, the ‘name’ cast tries (mostly) in vein to add gravitas to this silly parable.
Placing event in Tokyo, either as homage to the source material or a plea for foreign audience approval, Nuclear scientist Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) and his family are witness to a bizarre disaster that will destroy the city and take the life of Joe’s wife Sandra (Juliette Binoche). Almost immediately there is a cover up afloat, the government officials are calling the disturbance a tremor, but Joe realizes that this is not seismic activity, but rather a living creature.
The story then jumps ten years forward and we are re-introduced to Joe’s son Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), now a decorated solider on leave to spend time with his own young family. Things are peaceful until Ford receives a call that his presumed mentally unstable father has been imprisoned in Japan. So, he reluctantly boards a flight overseas to bail out the older man. While there his father pleas with him to visit a supposed quarantine zone to gather further evidence of the cover-up.
At this point the movie is only 30 minutes old and all semblance to rational human decision-making is out the window. The duo are arrested and taken to the former power plant, now acting as an underground base for research on a creature that is hatching. This particular bit of freak nature is nicknamed MUTO and looks like a cross between a beetle and one of those Arachnids from Starship Troopers.
I guess the two biggest surprises in the movie are; Bryan Cranston is being sold as the lead, when he is absent after the first act; and Godzilla is not the villain but a savior of our cities against the destructive forces of the MUTO twins.
As I watched the glorious visuals play out, there was a tendency to overlook the ridiculous screenplay that freely borrows from not only Emmerich’s Godzilla, but even ID-4 and The Day After Tomorrow. In a post-Jurassic Park world all others look like imitators. I must once again state by ongoing boredom of watching American cities getting decimated on-screen, after years of post- 9/11 taboo, the barometer has swung too far in the opposing direction.
Director: Gareth Edwards
Stars: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen