If last year’s similarly spectacular Pacific Rim (which was also released by Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures) tackled monster flicks with action aplomb then Godzilla goes for a more thriller approach. Perhaps the film’s best asset is it’s incredible ability to wring tension at the drop of a hat. A scene set on a railroad, where two human characters (one of which is the human protagonist, Ford, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is particularly terrifying since director Gareth Edwards seems to have a knack for staging every single moment perfectly in order to get it’s maximum thrill potential.
OK, seriously, I need to just stand up right here and give Gareth Edwards a standing ovation for just blowing me away with just his second directorial effort (I didn’t see his first film, Monsters, but I’ll obviously make it a priority now). The way he allows viewers to watch Godzilla and the movie’s other monsters has an elegant quality to it that manages to awe and also imbue paralyzing fear at every turn. I also have to give the screenwriters credit for making some very smart choices regarding the movie’s monsters that really make them spring to life.
Now, the two beasties Godzilla has to face in the movie are obviously beneath the titular monster, so naturally they seem to be more inclined with their animalistic tendencies. They don’t act like intelligently inconsistent creatures but rather animals (dangerous animals that could reduce humans to extinction, but animals nonetheless.) This nicely contrasts with Godzilla, who’s given more intelligence and craft in his personality. I especially love, love, love, love, love how in the final battle you can see a lot of Godzilla’s internal thoughts come across in his various choices in combat.
Speaking of combat, that’s yet another aspect that the movie knocks out of the park. All the thought given to developing the monsters and carefully shooting these sequences pays off handsomely as one gets swept up in all the exhilarating carnage. Every moment of the fight scenes are guaranteed to elicit “Yes!” from any reasonable moviegoer, which admittedly makes some of the human moments feel underwhelming at times.
While Bryan Cranston does an amazing job in the films opening scene setting up the darker tone of the movie, Johnson and especially Elizabeth Olsen’s characters do feel lost at certain points in the film. Luckily, those points are far and few in between and can be immediately forgiven by the exciting atmosphere the movie constantly and successfully exudes.
There’s a reason the Godzilla franchise has been as long running as it has, and if other future movies are even a quarter as terrific as this one then I can guarantee it’ll continue to run for many years to come.
Film nerd extraordinaire, Douglas Laman loves cinema, good friends, good food and did he mention cinema? Laman is a local high school student.