Directed by Gareth Edwards, the long-awaited epic rebirth to Toho’s iconic Godzilla sees the world’s most famous monster reborn. Serving as the 29th instalment in the Godzilla series, the film is a retelling of the origins of Godzilla in contemporary times, as Godzilla is pitted against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence. Beginning in 1999, plant supervisor Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) witnesses an explosion that threatens to release radiation to the outside, which is later attributed to an earthquake. Fifteen years later, Joe’s son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), now a United States Navy explosive ordnance disposal officer, is set on a path to uncover the truth about what happened that day, as the awe-inspiring Godzilla rises to restore balance as humanity stands defenceless.
With an excellent montage of familiar Godzilla footage running under the film’s opening credits, you know straight away that Gareth Edward’s Godzilla isn’t going to be just another failed attempt at a reboot. Edward’s isn’t starting from scratch to reinvent a classic, he’s using the original films and stories as a backdrop to bring Toho’s iconic character into the modern world.
From the director of the indie sci-fi Monsters, which served as the director’s directorial debut in 2010, this summer’s blockbuster sci-fi action reboot of Godzilla was a massive step-up for Edwards. With the director also working as the visual effects artist on Monsters, however, we could always be reassured that he was undeniably talented enough for the project. And he certainly proved that he was worthy of the opportunity with this tremendous effort.
Godzilla is a proper monster action, from huge footprints in concrete to the beast’s deafening screams echoing through a city of skyscrapers. The first act of the film sets the story and its characters up brilliantly, with Bryan Cranston getting us really excited for what’s to come. And then a quarantined suburb of Japan and a grown-up Aaron Taylor-Johnson show us that this is only the beginning. Focusing quite heavily on character developments during this first hour, the pace takes a bit of a roller-coaster turn, with a few empty lows in between some really powerful highs. But the highs really do overshadow any minor flaws, with fantastic visuals, spectacular film-making skills, powerful fight scenes, great performances, well-developed characters and relationships, a true appreciate of the original franchise and the promise of a lot more to come (from both Edwards and Godzilla!).
Godzilla is everything we love about the original and more, as we find ourselves cheering the once villain on. Whether you think Edward’s efforts are a decent attempt at a rebirth or not, you’ll find it hard to resist a fist-pump or two in the film’s epic climax.