News

REVIEW: ‘Godzilla’ draws from classic creature features

REVIEW: ‘Godzilla’ draws from classic creature features

Flaws aside, Godzilla delivers the creature feature goods./Warner Bros. Pictures

Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi | Run Time: 123 min | Rated: PG-13
Director: Gareth Edwards | Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, Juliette Binoche, David Strathairn

By: George Wolf

Movies love to depict our fear of science, a trend that dates back to Edison’s 1910 rendition of Frankenstein. But the real frenzy came with the onset of the atomic age.

Among the countless “creature features” spawned by our global fear of the destruction science had wrought, Godzilla reigned supreme. Ishiro Honda’s Hiroshima analogy simultaneously entertained and terrified as it tapped our horrified fascination with the destruction, once unthinkable, that was suddenly an ever-present danger.

Back in 2010, visual effects maestro Gareth Edwards tread similar ground of societal guilt, dread and terror with his underseen alien flick Monsters. More than anything, though, that film clarified his aptitude for creature action, a talent that serves him well for his Godzilla reboot.

He’s assembled a phenomenal cast for the monster mash up, though I’m not sure why. Top-notch actors Ken Watanabe, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn, Juliette Binoche and Aaron Taylor-Johnson appear onscreen (and do little else) as we wait for the epic battle between Godzilla and two new creatures with a taste for radiation.

Taylor-Johnson is a military bomb defusing expert who leaves his wife (Olsen) and their son behind in San Francisco to fly to Japan to bail his crazy scientist/grieving widower father (Cranston) out of jail. He’d been caught trespassing on a site quarantined for 14 years – ever since the nuclear reactor disaster that killed his wife.

Well, there’s more to that story than meets the eye.

The talent-laden cast doesn’t get the opportunity to flesh out their characters, so there’s little human drama to cling to as chaos approaches. Perhaps even more damaging, Max Borenstein and Dave Callaham’s screenplay fails to truly lay blame for this behemoth blood match on mankind.

Flaws aside, Godzilla delivers the creature feature goods. Few summer blockbusters contain such gloriously realized action sequences, gorgeously framed images of disarray, or thrillingly articulated beasts.

Edwards never hides his inspiration (the lead’s name is Brody, for goodness sake). While he draws from Jaws, Aliens, Close Encounters, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and any number of previous Godzilla efforts, the amalgam is purely his own.

This is an easy franchise to take in the wrong direction. Who remembers Godzuki? But Edwards brings a competent hand and reverent tone to breathe new life into the old dinosaur.

Verdict-3-5-Stars

Read more movie reviews at MaddWolf.com.

Recent Headlines

in National

Hyundai recalls 883K Sonatas

hyundai

Hyundai is recalling its popular Sonata midsize sedan to fix problems with the gear shift levers.

in Local

Gillibrand introduces bill to end sexual assault on college campuses

gillibrand

To try and put an end to sexual assaults on college campuses, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is introducing the Campus Accountability and Safety Act.

in Local

Economy improving nationally; locally

money

After a tough winter, the U.S. economy sprang back to life in the April to June quarter, growing at a fast 4% annual rate.

in Sports

Nadal withdraws from Toronto, Cincinnati events

nadal

Rafa Nadal will miss two U.S. Open tune-up events due to a wrist injury, putting his status in doubt for a title defense at the year's final grand slam.

in National

Obama to Republicans: ‘Stop being mad all the time’

obama

The President took his criticism of congressional Republicans to a higher pitch on Wednesday, appealing to them to work with him to "get some work done."