Starring: Bryan Cranston, Sally Hawkins, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olson, Yuki Morita, Juliette Binoche (Rated M 123 min).
Celebrating a 60th anniversary and idolised in the land of the rising sun, the gargantuan reptilian first known as Gojira in 1954 makes an atmospheric, exciting return to the big screen.
For many, the first thing that comes to mind when one gives thought of Godzilla King of the Monsters is a man roaring inside a rubber suit, stomping on model buildings with a toy train hanging from the mouth. Ongoing multiple sequels have been developed for years, usually involving a campy premise, outrageous adversaries and either dubbed into bad translations or injected with added scenes with non Japanese actors. More recently the disastrous, embarrassingly boring, cumbersome, unintentionally funny 1998 puerile Hollywood remake was about as disappointing as a hyped blockbuster can get.
Now, the giant behemoth is lovingly resurrected acknowledging his Japanese origins from a director with an eye for detail even if the raging beast is mostly absent within the opening hour. Nods to the Godzilla legacy will be a treat to those who can spot various references including a cameo from original lead Akira Takarada. Concentrating on human emotions is imperative to this version. Strong turns from Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Ken Watanabe (Inception) and Sally Hakwins (Blue Jasmine) are effective.
Soon to be seen in the latest Avengers opus, Elizabeth Olson (Liberal Arts) is heartfelt, her beaming eyes signaling dread have an acting style all of their own. Mistaken at first as a natural disaster, then a denied government cover-up, the sky scraper sized angry beast causes an all out modern warfare attack after rising up from the pacific ocean depths. The military launch a rapid arsenal in panic rather than with precision. The source of the cold-blooded creature varies in certain versions, a common theme remains that it is a result of nuclear weapon testing, a mistake of animal evolution or nature unleashing its fury. The story jumps also timeframes in the lead up to the carnage to get an understanding of who is responsible and what may occur if the monster is free to pillage the Japanese and Californian coastlines.
Outstanding special effects in close-ups justify the rampage, it’s evident why Godzilla dislikes humanity. Epic in every sense, louder than any movie I’ve seen this year, truly impressive creatively. Although, not the creature feature masterpiece some have already predicted, the unequalled power of Gojira remains riveting entertainment before Jurassic World hits the screen in 2015.
Shane A. Bassett