Retro Review | Godzilla (2014)

Retro Review | Godzilla (2014)

With the memory of the 1998 version of Godzilla almost gone from my mind I decided to take a look at another American take on the classic franchise. Here is my review of the latest version of, well, Godzilla!

I’ve never seen any of the original Godzilla films, but I have seen clips. Yeah, they look kind of goofy with the guy in a suit knocking over a model city but I understand it has a huge following and is taken seriously by the fans.

Then in 1998 director Roland Emmerich bought a new and updated version of the creature with his film Godzilla. My friends and I all had high hopes. The marketing was working it’s magic on us and Emmerich had already bought us Stargate and Independence Day, two films that were already in our favourite summer blockbuster lists.

Whilst entertaining on its first viewing, we soon started to pick holes in the film and the more we thought about it, the less we liked it.

Then in 2010, Gareth Edwards, director of the low budget film Monsters, was announced as the director of a new version of Godzilla. Monsters intrigued me from a technical stand point and I appreciated what Edwards had achieved but I was in no rush to see another Godzilla film.

Friends who had seen the film were disappointed that Godzilla himself is only onscreen for around twelve minutes and that had disheartened me from being in any great rush to see the film.

But recently I finally decided to give it a go…

In Summer 2014, the world’s most revered monster is reborn as Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures unleash the epic action adventure “Godzilla.”  From visionary new director Gareth Edwards (“Monsters”) comes a powerful story of human courage and reconciliation in the face of titanic forces of nature, when the awe-inspiring Godzilla rises to restore balance as humanity stands defenseless.

Godzilla is not really a film about giant fighting monsters. Yes it does contain that element but here the story is really about the people and how the react to the events occurring around them.

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Whilst watching the film it came across to me as a modern day version of Jaws that was directed by Steven Spielberg and released in 1975. In the film Jaws, more so in the original novel by Peter Benchly, the story is about the people of Amity Island.  The shark is almost a background character that becomes more prominent as the novel reaches the climax.

Godzilla gave me the same vibe as I watched the film but I don’t take this as a negative aspect of the film. Much like Jaws and other classic horror films such as Alien, the creature is teased throughout the film with only fleeting glimpses. It’s not until the big finale that the creature is revealed in all its glory.

Although this Godzilla has been slightly redesigned and tweaked, he still stays honest to his classic film roots. None of that lizard on steroids that Emmerich bought us in 1998!

When Godzilla is finally revealed the showdown is certainly worth the wait. While we’ve seen countless aliens/monsters/super heroes destroy cities before our eyes time and time again, this fight felt different and I enjoyed watching it through.

Considering I started comparing the film to Jaws and discussing how the story focuses on the people, perhaps I should mention them as well!

The main protagonist is Joe Brody played by Bryan Cranston. He’s a great actor and anyone who’s seen Breaking Bad will surely agree with that. In fact I was enjoying his performance so much that I was genuinely shocked when his character dies halfway through the film. This was something not forecast by the trailers for once and the film was better for it.

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So that leaves us with his son, Ford, to carry us through the rest of the film. Aaron Taylor-Johnson was cast in this role and I was impressed with what he did as the hero of the film. I had previously seen him in the title role of Kick Ass and more recently as Quicksilver from Avengers: Age Of Ultron.

Ironically my timing of finally getting to watch Godzilla meant initially the first few scenes with Ford and his wife Elle were a little funny because she is played by Elizabeth Olsen. If you hadn’t guessed where I’m going, she was the Scarlett Witch, Quicksilvers brother in Age Of Ultron.

Also another of my favourite actors, Ken Watanabe, is the scientist who has been studying the creatures along with his scientist colleague played by Sally Hawkins. They are trying to figure out what is the relationship between all of these strange creatures but are soon pushed aside once the U.S. military take control of the situation.

Godzilla was in my opinion a thoroughly good film that I was not expecting it to be. You may only see Godzilla for around twelve minutes but so what? This was the same for the 1998 version and in Jaws you don’t see the shark till the end, so I don’t think this is a fair way to judge the film.

John Abbitt

About the author | John Abbitt

@UKFilmNerd | John loves film, and he used to write for his own website, The Tydirium Hangar Bay, in the late 1990s. Whilst that website became lost in the passages of time, John's love of film did not. He's back, writing for The Unheard Nerd.

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