Sometimes the Devil is in the details and films need a high brow plot that grows right in front of an audience. Characters need to be fleshed out and there is a need to feel an attachment. Sometimes you need that in a film. Sometimes in a film, however, all you need are giant monsters punching, biting, and clawing each other until only one is left standing. Sometimes you need…….”Godzilla.” 2014 marks the return of everyone’s favorite “kaiju” who loves to climb out of the sea, destroy buildings, or a few monsters, and after he’s done, walk back into the sea. You don’t need Matthew Broderick, you don’t need baby Godzillas, because there’s a twist we didn’t see coming, and you don’t need a twist where there is always one more egg left. What you do need is a mythic monster that destroys things. You get all of that, and more, in “Godzilla.”
If you’ve seen any of the Japanese import “Godzilla” films, you might have a good idea of what you’re in for this time around. Basic premise; there are rumblings in the Pan Pacific area……and for sake of spoilers and other important plot points, I’ll leave it there. Yes, Godzilla is in this film, and there are a lot of moments of nostalgia that I got excited about, and overall I got to see the mythic rebirth of an icon.
Gareth Edwards honed his craft with the underrated, and little seen indie, “Monsters,” and just like “Monsters” there is a lot of build-up to the eventual return or sighting of a giant monster. This might be a turn-off to some members of the audience who might be expecting most of the film to be starring “The King of the Monsters.” Instead, we get a plot that involves a soldier (Aaron Johnson) and his father (Bryan Cranston) seeking the reason for the disturbances in the Pacific and the possible conspiracy between the Japanese government and the Monarch Corporation. You also have Elizabeth Olsen floating around as a nurse who is maybe trying to save people, and trust me, I like Olsen, I think she is an actress on the rise, but its plot and exposition for the sake of plot and exposition, and while the film might lag a little bit, it’s well worth the lead-up to the return of Godzilla.
The one comparison that you won’t be able to get away from will be the inevitable comparison to “Pacific Rim.” First of all, “Godzilla” is not “Pacific Rim.” The only comparison is that there are giant monsters that fight. It stops there. From a storytelling and world building perspective I would still give “Rim” a leg up. However, with “Godzilla” there is a sense of nostalgia and a lot of little odes to films of old. Being that this is the last collaboration between Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. it could be a while before we see another “Godzilla” flick grace the screen for a while.
At the end of the day, it’s great to see “Godzilla” back and in the capable hands of people who understand what “Godzilla” is at heart. Sure, some of the plot points are a little corny and ham handed, but when you finally get passed the mandatory exposition, the action is well worth it, and to be honest, quite convincing, for a giant monster film that is.
Fun Fact: Ironically enough, Guillermo del Toro, director of “Pacific Rim” was the first choice to direct the “Godzilla” reboot.