Do you have 20 bucks? Go see Gareth Edward’s Godzilla right now. Now. Order your tickets. We are eschewing our normal format for the time being. There has not been a movie I would so wholeheartedly recommend putting your butt in a theater for in some time. This is what cinemas were made for. Forget reviews you may have read poo-pooing the film for this, that, or the other thing – this movie is too damn fun to ignore.
As a fan of the old, cheesy Godzilla movies I was clearly going in with certain expectations. As a huge fan of Gareth Edwards’ Monsters (Obtain this and watch as well. Wonderful film.), I figured I would enjoy his take on the most famous kaiju. I tell you neither of these matter. This movie is straight-up theater popcorn perfection. A summer hit for anyone who likes going to the movies. Edwards is a talented filmmaker, above all, and a clear fan of the source material. He handles the creature and cinematography beautifully.
From the very start, I was impressed. Not by any sheer brilliance, but by one of the most inventive and clever opening credits I have seen outside a Bond movie in ages (Skyfall’s were gorgeous, if you missed those). The credits were both cryptic and informative, deceptive and with a nod towards Godzilla lore. Really neat to see a movie crew put such consideration visually and thematically in these minute details some miss whilst grabbing Milk Duds (a normally understandable action).
The cast, though all second banana to the movie’s namesake (obviously), does a great job across the board. The point of the movie does not lie in the dialogue, so their roles serve more as remaining engaging as the plot engages the monster. Bryan Cranston, despite not cooking a single piece of meth, leads a full cast with serious credentials (Juliette Binoche? Sally Hawkins? David Strathairn?). The man has a masterful skill in delivering lines intelligently, intensely and convincingly where other actors might be more laughable. As Brian points out, he has perfected the art of bending and shifting his voice and tone, so his pitches and delivery grab you with every tremor and voice crack. Ken Wantanabe shines, as he does, and delivers my favorite lines of the movie (here in a clip you may have glimpsed from trailers – beware, spoilers!). Elizabeth Olsen is pretty and Aaron Taylor-Johnson has exceptional skill in getting the crap kicked out of himself. The Johnson-Olsen relationship felt like the weakest part of the movie, but that really is due to the relative strength of the individual performances of the overall cast. Did I mention how awesome Ken Wantanabe is in his limited role?
Let’s be honest – the movie is not about the humans. Edwards clearly has a keen visual eye. He was cinematographer on Monsters and brings a similar show-without-showing quality to our epic beast. Cinematographer duties in Godzilla go to Seamus McGarvey, who I mention for both his outstanding name and his work on the equally-large Avengers. The two do some really cool monster movie work without explicitly showing the monster. Fear not, you get your monster fight (which I could go on and on about, but will not spoil that fun for you), however the creators demonstrate patience and skill in building the tension. They do so with those desperate humans and their drama, sure, but also by showing monsters bit by bit, in a reflection, on a TV or through the dark fog. I was consistently impressed (as was the entire tittering theater) by the shots and scenes without Godzilla – the main draw! The atmospheres are appropriately epic. Aftermaths were realistic and destructive. Oh, and Godzilla is HUGE. Again, Edwards and crew do wonders with a ‘less is more’ strategy as the movie sets up, clueing us in along the way to the immensity of this force of nature. There are neat shots of a foot, his back in the water, even the tip of his tail. When you see Godzilla in his full glory and he lets out that new roar (which I personally enjoyed), the payoff is clear.
Yes, this is a Godzilla movie. There are buildings crashing, explosions and monsters (duh). However, Edwards also makes an overall impressive film. I love those old cheesy man-in-the-suit Godzilla movies. I really do. Clearly Edwards does too (see if you can catch the Mothra joke early in the movie). I would be happy with 2 hours of monsters fighting. This Godzilla is so much more. I love a well-done visual piece; it’s why we have a ‘should I pay to see it?’ category most times we do these – Edwards’ Godzilla is made to be seen on a big screen, popcorn in hand, immersed in a well-constructed world where the monster has our back. Oh, goodness, does he have our back. I brought a notepad to scribble down some of these thoughts in the theater. I shall close with my final thoughts/the thoughts I wrote upon ‘getting the full Godzilla’ in the climax of the film (can I trademark ‘the full Godzilla?’ Is that a thing yet?):
<massive spoiler; expletive>… Hell yes. So much yes. All the yes.
Go see Godzilla in theaters. This is why we like movies.