Uneasy Lies the Head That Wears the Crown
Godzilla 2014 exceeded my high expectations. It’s a thrilling film ride – one that boasts fine production values, eye-popping special effects, marvelous cinematography, an epic monster, and lots of exciting set pieces. My only complaint involves having to wait so long before the King of the Monsters appeared in all his massive glory. However, we do get teased a bit before the full reveal, and that adds to the suspense. Fortunately, this new Godzilla is definitely worth waiting for. His looks, roars and stomps seem incredibly real -- but impossible to describe. Trust me, seeing is believing in this case!
Godzilla (Gojira) has been stomping around the screen for 60 years. Appearing first in Ishiro Honda’s 1954 Japanese film as a metaphor for nuclear weapons, this massive creature has become a pop culture icon with 28 films about him produced by the Toho Company. In 1998, Tri-Star released another Godzilla movie, which received mixed reviews.
In the interest of full disclosure, I admit being a big Godzilla fan. In fact, I even enjoyed that 1998 version. But this 2014 film belongs in a class by itself. And why not? Look at the impressive talent connected with the movie – cinematographer Seamus McGarvey (The Golden Compass), production designer Owen Patterson (V for Vendetta), art director Grant Van Der Slagt (Watchmen), set direction by Elizabeth Wilcox (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), music score by Alexandre Desplat (Fantastic Mr. Fox) plus the many, many talented sculptors, sound technicians, animators, stunt people – and the list goes on and on.
Director Gareth Edwards (Monsters) pulls all this together like an expert ringmaster at a three-ring circus. And the plot (screenplay by Max Borenstein; story by Dave Callahan) offers us a family we care for as well as a compelling tale showing filmdom’s most famous monster fighting huge evil creatures and misguided scientists in a battle for survival of the human race. Carnage reigns in Japan, the Philippines, San Francisco and Nevada as a baffled scientist (Ken Watanabe) looks on.
Although the key human characters take a back seat to Godzilla here, they help bring home to us the peril of what’s happening on screen. Two generations of the Brody family suffer hardships. Ford Brody (Aaron-Taylor Johnson), a bomb specialist, gets the most camera time. He becomes involved in helping his father (Bryan Cranston) try to find out what’s behind the secrecy of an “earthquake” back in 1966. Calculations by Ford's dad suggest a similar event is about to take place. Heroic efforts by the Brody father/son team lead to tragedy, but Ford won’t give up. His wife (Elizabeth Olsen) and young son (Carson Bolde) must get by without him as he continues his mission.
The most exciting sequences in Godzilla occur during his combat with two bizarre, gigantic creatures looking for a place to nest. Our hero is always at his best fighting other huge creatures, but these spectacular battles in Godzilla 2014 seem to make the entire theater shake, rattle and roll. And sadly, Godzilla must contend with extremely ill-advised military actions. Will the King of the Monsters prevail again?
I think this Godzilla film is one of the best monster movies ever made. But my husband still insists that King Kong remains the true King of the Monsters. Go figure.
(Released by Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures and rated “PG-13” for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence.)
For more information about Godzilla, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.