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MV5BMTQ0ODgzNjg2MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDkxMzc3MDE@__V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_Reviewer: Luke Walkley

Director: Gareth Edwards

Stars: Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Juliette Binochet

Released: May 15th 2014 (UK)

From the what is now iconic Japanese original all the way back in 1954 to the Roland Emmmerich-directed 1998 remake, Godzilla has had it fair share of loyal fans and critics alike. However, when ‘Monsters’ Director, Gareth Edwards, announced he would be helming another retelling, the potential was certainly huge. Trailers, striking posters and a highly-rated cast including Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen all helped to increase the momentum it was gaining prior to release, however does the movie live up to all this?

15 years on from a tragedy at a Japanese Nuclear power-plant that killed his wife, scientist Joe Brody (Cranston) is convinced it was no mere-meltdown and with the help of now-soldier son Ford (Taylor-Johnson) he attempts to uncover the truth. What he discovers has become one of man-kinds biggest secrets and soon they must turn to another force of nature in Godzilla, in the hope it can restore balance.

This is a massive step-up for Edwards in terms of the size of the project, his 2010 film ‘Monsters’ was made with a tiny budget in comparison to Godzilla’s whopping $200million purse and from the off, it’s clear to see where the money has gone. Opening in the Philippines, the visuals become the centrepiece almost instantly, we are teased throughout with glimpses of the beast in ‘Cloverfield’ style shots as Edwards builds the tension, much akin to Spielberg’s ‘Jaws’ waiting for the right moment to unleash the monstrous centrepiece.

With arguably the most sought after actor at present off the back of his Breaking Bad fame, Cranston delivers a powerful message in his performance and the little screen-time he shares with his wife Sandra (Binochet) in the first ten minutes, is unfortunately the film’s most emotive scene. His son ford and wife Elle (Olsen) are separated by their duties, as Elle a nurse tends to the casualties of a war that Ford is fighting on the frontline. However their on-screen separation is unfortunately not replaced by an emotional connection. This is the case for almost the whole cast. Taylor-Johnson is flat throughout and it becomes nigh-on impossible to develop any kind of feelings towards his character. Olsen isn’t gifted a lot of screen-time, while Cranston and Binochet are criminally underused. Watanabe meanwhile appears to have been replaced with a cardboard cut-out of himself with his mouth open in shock as he maintains the look throughout the film.

If we forgive the mediocre characters and focus on positives, then Godzilla is far from a bad film. As mentioned the visuals are what keep the film alive and battle scenes, the destruction of cities etc are all handled fantastically and really highlight the incredible progression of cinema from the 1954 Godzilla, a man in a rubber suit destroying a model Tokyo. Edward’s seemingly pays homage to a number of ‘monster movies’ throughout the film, most notable Jurassic Park and Jaws and it does work.

Apocalyptic movies have taken on a far darker tone in comparison to years gone by, Emmerich’s 1998 version was far more jocular, while audiences may have become used to Superheroes such as Iron Man casting off the imminent destruction of Earth. Godzilla is a serious film for all intents and purposes. This does create a somewhat inhuman aspect, the characters may have benefited from a little light-heartedness, but Edwards keeps it all very straight laced. He focuses on the theme of nature eventually overcoming us all, as we see mankind ‘sit back and watch’ as events unfold before them, weapons, electricity all become useless against the force of nature that is Godzilla

The plot-holes are a little too commonplace also, the most glaringly obvious *Slight Spoiler* being a group of soldiers who are sent to check up on the second monster, seemingly unaware it has been strolling across the Nevada desert towards Las Vegas.

The message is clear beneath the glossy surface – man shouldn’t meddle with nature, as ultimately nature will win. Edwards has stayed true to the source material for the most part and for that he should be commended. Godzilla does have a number of flaws but the overall visual treat means that it’s a decent addition to the Godzilla legacy that has grown for almost 60 years.

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