“Godzilla” is an unusually conscientious blockbuster that delivers enough human drama to anchor its sweeping spectacle. Its respectable treatment for the iconic King of Monsters may not always manage to satisfy the mainstream crowd due to its slow-burn ideals, but those who value solid storytelling would have a heart for this comfortingly familiar yet excitingly fresh franchise reboot.
The story revolves around a dysfunctional family on the way to its second generation of succumbing to the same titanic forces of nature. When a fed-up American son who is now a dedicated father and husband tries to come to terms with his long distraught father who is still mourning in Japan after the death of his wife during a nuclear catastrophe many years ago, he is forced to go back there only to find something that will eventually change the world. He and his father illegally return to their old home until they get caught for passing through the quarantine zone. Revelations show how his father’s outrageous theories about an impending destruction by monstrous forces turn out inevitable. In no time, mutated and radiation-savvy prehistoric creatures start wreaking havoc across Japan and the United States. The unprecedented turn of events clearly leads him to the same fate as his father, but this time, the whole world also gets threatened of extinction.
It is expected that a lot of people won’t like this suspense-drama offering, as most prefer instant action gratification for a typical blockbuster flick. This slow-paced one makes the viewers think, absorb, and allow its very concept to resonate, while not missing out on the legendary value of its eponymous beast.
Helmer Gareth Edwards of Monsters fame embraces his work’s own blockbuster stature with awe and wonder. Using crucially instinctive motivations, he brings thematic substance and artistic wit to a project that is undeniably pressured by both big-budget expectations and reverence to its source material. He is able to turn a monster flick into something more thoughtful, while also keeping an exciting exterior for its target audience. Sustaining the momentum from start to end, the direction aptly blends the serious commentary in the story with the thrill of unleashing epic action without getting cheesy. What he creates is an exceedingly rare American remake that the average contemporary monster movie is always too afraid to consider.
Although this motion picture doesn’t always have perfectly seamless beats, it remains ambitious and reverent throughout. It doesn’t insult its audience. It is unafraid of letting people catch their breaths during the right moments. Instead of crowding the screen with mindless action every few minutes like in most CGI-dominated flicks, this one primarily allows itself to engage with its mythic monster’s legacy using worthwhile emotional curves. Its human drama anchors its creature-feature elements as giant monster brawls earn their rightful glimpses on carefully crafted scenes. Some may accuse the film of just being moderately suspenseful, especially those belonging to the short attention span demographic, but the willing viewers’ patience for its lingering pace ultimately pays off by the time the battle royale between Godzilla and the two MUTOs begins.
The titular character doesn’t appear as often as the human characters, but it does so during the right moments. Even without seeing this monstrous hero on screen in many sequences, his presence is always felt, which helps validate the reason why he still reigns supreme in his niche today.
This cinematic piece capitalizes on the riveting amalgam of poignant drama and blockbuster spectacle. From the opening sequence subtly showcasing Godzilla’s rear side through a young boy’s birthday party cutouts to the slick and satisfying climax, the shots continue to render a certain form of cinematic dazzle to both fans and eagle-eyed film buffs.
The malevolent creature designs look, roar, and stomp incredibly real amidst some height inconsistency impressions, as noticed during a one-time watch. There are some indie film sensibilities surfacing from time to time — running side by side the high production values, technologically awe-inspiring effects, and effectively dark score. Acting performances are a hit and miss, but the direction and treatment still allow the storytelling to flourish in many respects.
“Godzilla” manages to give its lead giant beast the mythic mystique it deserves. In its own conservatively sweet reinvention of the franchise, this film invests on its main character with enough sense of wonder. An imperfect yet great film that stays true to the spirit of the original, this beautiful piece of work is well worth the wait.