Conceived as a metaphor for nuclear weapons following the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Godzilla first entered our lives in 1954. Never a mainstream Hollywood success, more a ‘B movie’ kinda guy, Godzilla bombed at the box office in 1998. Bringing him back to the big screen was always going to take something special. In order to achieve something special you need special people and the casting manages to hit the nail on the head. Watanebe, Cranston and Hawkin’s scientists feel both intelligent and emotionally invested, Taylor-Johnson’s Navy Lieutenant is pleasingly noble and Olsen’s doctor very convincing. Box ticked; onto the next challenge and making sure the story allows the characters time to develop while keeping the audience interested.
It all starts in a Japanese nuclear power plant in 1999 with Brian Cranston’s engineer, Joe Brody, picking up anomalies, on seismic sensors, that lead to disaster and family tragedy. It takes a heavyweight to get the emotional juices flowing and Cranston really delivers the goods when it counts. The story then jumps forward to 2014 with him trying to prove a cover up at the accident site where Ken Watanebe’s Dr. Serizawa is involved. When Brody gets arrested for his illegal investigations son, Ford (Taylor-Johnson), must haul ass to Japan, to try convince him to give up the good fight. It isn’t long before kick off at the accident site and humanity is thrown into an unfathomable and uncontrollable situation whereby they will have to rely on an ‘Alpha Predator’ to bail them out.
Introducing Godzilla to the world without wrecking all the hard work that went into humanising a rather out there idea was always going to be tough, but Edwards and co absolutely nail it. In a Jurassic Park style move Edwards successfully manages to build the suspense to bursting point as the audience awaits Godzilla’s arrival. Landing on screen with what looks like a sly grin, Godzilla looks incredible. He is everything that you expect, hulking above almost every man made structure around him and even then, when we’ve been fully introduced, Edwards avoids plaguing us with his presence. Instead, choosing to cut away and show the aftermath rather than the event, which ensures you’re left gagging for more.
The CGI porn finale – inescapable with this type of film – manages to deliver the goods with some impressive moments while keeping a secondary human element alive as well. That he manages to maintain the human element among the giant prehistoric monster madness is to Edwards’s credit. He has succeeded in making an excellent summer blockbuster, which is designed and executed for IMAX with precision. Don’t see it in any other format.