What movie was that...?

05 June 2014

Godzilla

directed by Gareth Edwards 

I was excited, albeit very nervous, when the first teaser trailer for the newest Godzilla film premiered. There was a new found sense of tension, of anticipation, of reverence that was completely lost in the 1998 debacle. And it didn’t hurt that teaser ended with the classic, skin-crawlingly excellent sound piece made famous in Ishiro Honda’s 1954 masterpiece, Gojira. Gareth Edwards proved me right by treating his source material with much respect, possibly even to the detriment of the story…

Edwards is no stranger to the political sci-fi genre. His solid film Monsters featured a grounded story of geo-political tensions amid an alien infestation of sorts, and the result was something quiet and haunting. Godzilla finds similar anxieties about the frailty of our planet, though they fade into the background quickly and are nearly never heard from again. Edwards even appropriates the nuclear fallout fears felt in Gojira to some degree of success, though it mostly relates to how the creatures react to life above ground (oops, spoiler alert). As for the human element, no one is given anything to do but react to circumstance, though Bryan Cranston and Ken Watanabe try their damnedest to flesh out their character cutouts. Despite this, Edwards treats the King of the Monsters himself with both love and awe-filled respect. Each tease (a rising shot of a massive haunch, the magnificent sky diving scene from the trailer) works like magic to instill in us a sense of awe, tantalizing us until the moments when Edwards does show us Godzilla in his entirety. But in the end, it seems as if everyone was so focused on Godzilla that they neglected to tend to the human drama surrounding such a tremendous creature.

For a kind of alternate universe Godzilla film, give Bong-Joon Ho’s amazing The Host a try. It was the perfect quencher for my Godzilla thirst back in 2006 (and still does the trick today!).