SYNOPSIS: Fifteen years after the government and mainstream media claimed an earthquake caused a major nuclear meltdown, scientist Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) discovers the responsible party wasn’t Mother Nature, both something far more nefarious. That “something” is a Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism (or MUTO), a giant winged creature that feeds off earth’s natural radiation. Unfortunately by the time his theories are validated the MUTOs have begun to wreak havoc and there is only one force on earth (or maybe just under the earth) powerful enough to battle the overgrown mosquitoes—Godzilla, king of the monsters!
Richard: 4 Stars
Mark: 3 Stars
Richard: Mark, in a movie like this you know that when the main character’s wife says, “You know you’re only going to be away for a few days… it’s not the end of the world,” that he’ll be gone for more than a few days and it just might be the end of the world, or something pretty close to it. I think the new Godzilla plays by most of the rules of the giant lizard genre, but stomps all over 1998’s Roland Emmerich by-the-book remake. What did you think?
Mark: The Emmerich Godzilla was a forgettable remake. This one is more exciting, more nuanced, and has better CGI. But so many monster movies have the same tired tropes. There’s always a hero just trying to get back to his imperiled family; always a fusillade of army bullets that are fired for naught; and always a monster from the depths of space, ocean, or time. And this movie is no different. Except that Juliette Binoche wears a snazzy trench coat that I should probably source for my wife.
RC: I agree that the standard kaiju kitsch is all in place—humungous monsters knock skyscrapers over with the flick of a tail and scientists talk mumbo jumbo—but director Gareth Edwards has added in some moments of real heartbreak, small sequences that underscore the huge amount of destruction the creatures cause. It’s a balancing act to maintain the spirit of the original Godzilla movies while also updating them for a new audience.
MB: Oh, Richard, I forgot. And there has to be a scene on a bridge. It’s in the contract. This scene on a bridge is a good one, though. Oh, and a scene with a train on a high trestle. This standard scene is also well done. Let’s not forget the scene where the big city where the citizens look in awe at the monster approaching between skyscrapers and then run for their lives. Again, well done here, although the original Godzilla invented the scene. But I think the filmmakers succeeded at the most important task in the movie—making us marvel at the sheer size of the thing. And this is done very, very well.
RC: The MUTOs are on full display, but if I have a complaint it’s that Godzilla doesn’t enter until a bit too late in the game. This whole Cloverfield don’t-show-the-monster thing is artistically noble, but if I wanted to NOT see Godzilla I’d go see Million Dollar Arm instead. For much of the movie every time we get to the cool ‘Zilla action, Edwards cuts to something else or shrouds him behind a cloud of soot and smoke. He is, as Sally Hawkins’ character says, “a God for all intents and purposes,” so we should be treated to a better look at him.
MB: Godzilla has always been an enigmatic presence. He’s got that “good monster/bad monster” thing going. Or maybe he’s just bipolar.