Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Godzilla

 Godzilla4
  • Released Internationally on 14/05/14
  • Released in Malta by KRS on 15/05/14
Review (14/05/14)
3-word review: Better than 1998. 
The last time Hollywood gave us a big-budget interpretation of Japan's biggest export, the result wasn't pretty. The 1998 Godzilla, from the team that had just taken over the world with Independence Day, was famous more for its star-studded soundtrack than for any substance found within the script, and featured a monster that looked and moved like a huge T-Rex with a jaw deformity. Sixteen years later, this version is a much better film, with a much better monster at its centre.
It begins
After a frantic history lesson during the opening titles, we head to an opening scene that reminded me of Jurassic Park in terms of tone and look. Young director Gareth Edwards, who landed this big assignment on the strength of his low-budget film Monsters, has clearly given a lot of importance to the look of this film. The annoying 'night-time, in the rain' shots that made up most of the 1998 version are now replaced with a lot of broad daylight, and a colour palette that adds some vintage class to this vintage monster. The film's first act is set in 1999, and although Godzilla himself takes some time to show up, the human emotion starts early on.
Not just destruction
This is the other strong point of the film. There is, of course, a huge monster and lots of destruction. But it doesn't come at the expense of interesting characters and human drama. Bryan Cranston (Argo, Breaking Bad), Juliette Binoche (Chocolat, The English Patient) and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass, Anna Karenina) are the family we get to focus on across the film's fifteen year timespan, and their struggle helps put all the surrounding death and chaos into perspective. Of course, we also get the necessary military jargon scenes, shots of scared people in standstill traffic, and newsreels, but then it would hardly be a disaster movie without them.
Technically great
The effects are as great as expected, with a design for the massive creatures that manages to give enough awe without making them lifeless. The sound design is also very noticeable, and Godzilla has a roar that makes the T-Rex seem tame. Proud of their creation, the filmmakers are more than happy to show him off, thus avoiding all the shadows and lurking that plagued the previous film. One scene of note is the stunning HALO jump scene - a couple of minutes of extreme beauty, as the military's finest jump in balletic formation and an operatic setting, on a one-way mission to save their country.

In the end
The final act does get a bit messy, which I guess is inevitable when everything is lying in ruin, but the film once again rises above the previous version by ending with a wonderful climax, something we don't get treated to often in disaster films. It's not Shakespeare or Gravity, but it's a solid effects film with a real heart, and definitely the type of crowd-pleaser that the summer box-office expects.

Godzilla5

 Mark7

Trailers:

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