You probably already have an opinion of the character Godzilla - and this movie isn’t going to change anyone’s mind.
Let’s face it, some films are simply critic proof.
Take Godzilla movies for instance. The Big G has been around for 60 years now, garnering enough film appearances to make his series the longest running franchise in movie history (Sherlock Holmes holds the record for most character appearances, but not in a single continuing franchise). On top of that, you’ve got all the cartoons, comic books, spin-off novels, television commercials, and endless pop culture references. Godzilla is pretty much everywhere. Probably the only reason they haven’t put his picture next to the word ‘ubiquitous’ in the dictionary is because the photo wouldn’t fit on the page.
The point I’m trying to make (I do occasionally manage to do that) is that most people already have an opinion on Godzilla. So if you’re not a fan of The King of The Monsters by now, it’s highly unlikely anything I say about the brand new Godzilla film is going to make you inclined to see it. Conversely, if you already have a soft spot in your heart for the big guy, there’s little chance any comment of mine would stop you from wanting to watch the new movie. Trust me, I understand. I’m firmly in the pro-Godzilla camp, and nothing short of the second coming was going to keep me from seeing this film.
So, taking all that into account, rather than make a futile argument for or against Godzilla, I think instead it would be prudent just to answer a few of the questions that might have crossed some folk’s minds in the days leading up to the film’s release.
To begin with, is this a real honest-to-goodness Godzilla film, or is it something akin to that phony baloney thing starring Matthew Broderick they tried to sneak past us in 1998? Rest assured, G-fans, this is the real deal. It’s true that the monsters are all CGI instead of the classic guys in rubber suits, but the filmmakers took care to honor the original designs. In short, Godzilla looks like Godzilla. Sure, he’s a little chunkier than he used to be, but c’mon, he’s 60 years old, cut him some slack.
Okay, that’s good, but what about the tone? Is this serious Godzilla from the 1950s, goofy Godzilla from the 1970s, or action Godzilla from the 1990s? Fortunately, as endearing as the kiddie matinee trappings of Godzilla’s middle years were, this film wisely avoids the mood of those movies. After an intriguing opening credits and a prologue which establishes the world’s governments might know some things they don’t want the average citizen to find out, the movie proper opens in Japan where we find Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) & his wife Sandra (Juliette Binoche) preparing for their daily jobs managing a nuclear power plant. After something huge approaches the facility from under the ground, the ensuing reactor breach leaves Sandra trapped while Joe can do nothing but stand outside the safety doors and watch her die. So, yeah, with that kind of opening, you can tell there’s definitely no room in this film’s universe for a doughy smoke-ring breathing Son of Godzilla hopping around the suburbs of Tokyo. Instead, this movie aspires to be a sober adventure. That being said, this new Godzilla is also not quite the somber exercise the original 1954 film was. There is room for humor this time around, particularly in the scenes involving the media’s coverage of the appearance of the giant monsters.
Wait, you said monsters. Does that mean there’s more than Godzilla stomping around in the new movie? Absolutely. After the opening, the movie jumps ahead 15 years to the present day where Joe is still trying to sneak back into the quarantined area surrounding the plant so he can find out just what really happened the day his wife died. Reluctantly accompanied by his now grown son, Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), Joe finds a way into the facility, only to discover it’s not so abandoned as the public has been led to believe. As it turns out, an international coalition of scientists and soldiers has set up shop there to study and stand guard over the now dormant giant creature that destroyed the plant all those years ago. While Joe attempts to explain to the scientist in charge, Dr, Serizawa (Ken Watanabe), that he has reason to believe the creature dubbed Muto has been sending out mysterious signals to another of its kind, the monster awakens and lays waste to the area before flying off.