I’m sure I remember reading somewhere that Godzilla has appeared in more films than any other character. This could be true (1) and perhaps this is why he casts a bigger shadow over cinema than any other film monster.
Like many others, I grew up with the classic Japanese films, and I adored them as a child, and still do as an adult – although I am shocked that I can’t buy them here in the UK. That love for the character, and the fact that the film is directed by Gareth Edwards, who impressed me a great deal with MONSTERS (2) led me to be very excited. Throw in some wonderful posters and moody, apocalyptic trailers and I was ready for something special.
How did it fare against my level of expectation?
Well, I must admit to an initial level of disappointment, followed by a fortnight of increasing respect and enjoyment. I certainly didn’t hate the film, and I was unfair to expect as much as I did, and now I think of it as a brave and clever way of creating the world for this creature to exist in, and for further adventures that can be both fresh and modern, but also fit within the existing structure of the Godzilla films. Certainly there are echoes of the original film – which is a dark tale, with a strong anti-nuclear message. The genius here is to create a mythology that also allows for the camp (and exciting) monster fights of the later films, too. Well played, very well played.
That said, the main story is not hugely original, and I can’t help but feel that the least interesting character (Ford Brody, played with occasional emotion by Aaron Taylor-Johnson) gets the most screen time, while stronger characters (everyone else) get sidelined.
But, c’mon, who watches a Godzilla film for the human characters? Happily, I can report that Godzilla is, in fact, Godzilla, which is where the previous American remake failed most abysmally. In looks, mannerism, and destructive ability, this is the King of the Monsters that we all know and love.
We have to wait for the big action, as an awful lot is denied us early in the film. We see the destruction and hopelessness of the human survivors, but little of the monster fights. A brave move, and one that initially disappointed, but now I feel was correct and adds weight to the disaster unfolding, and a better pay off at the end.
The effects are pretty top-notch, and some of the shots are simply stunning. Edwards has a good eye, without a doubt.
The music is great, but I am annoyed by the lack of Godzilla march. I think it may have been cleverly woven in, but that’s just not good enough. It is like a Bond film without the Bond theme. Just not on.
Overall, Godzilla is a film worthy of attention, and certainly requiring a big screen experience. Despite the unoriginal story-line the characters take, it is a different kind of film than most monster flicks, and should be approached with a different frame of mind.
(1) Except perhaps James Bond or Sherlock Holmes.
(2) If you’ve missed it, it is well worth buying and comes with my recommendation.