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GODZILLA (review)

Review by Clay N Ferno
Produced by Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, 
Mary Parent, Brian Rogers
Screenplay by Max Borenstein
Story by David Callaham
Based on Godzilla by Toho
Directed by Gareth Edwards
Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, 
Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, 
Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn, Bryan Cranston

Oh no, they say he’s got to go go go Godzilla!

— Blue Öyster Cult

With fans screaming in anticipation for the kaiju as equally as for the return of Bryan Cranston since the end of Breaking Bad, 2014’s Godzilla delivers all of that and more.

Is it time to relegate the 1998 film to the archives and stop complaining about it like oh so much Burton’s Planet of the Apes?

The answer is yes!

Let Pacific Rim be your ersatz prequel for this summer giant monster movie that digs deep into the Toho Co. archives for meaning behind Godzilla’s motivations and where he ranks on the good monster vs. bad monster scale.

Is he better thank Neutral Good? You will need to get out and see Godzilla vs. M.U.T.O. to judge for yourself!

Bryan Cranston stars as Joe Brody, an American scientist living in Japan with his wife and young son Ford (CJ Adams). When testing seismic readings, he discovers an anomaly and heads to the nuclear power plant where he works with his wife, Sandra (Juliette Binoche).

An accident befalls the plant, with tragic loss of life, and then the scene jumps to ten years later.

Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) has joined the Navy as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) specialist and has just returned to his wife Ellie (Elizabeth Olsen) and son Sam. A call from Japanese police confirm that his dad Joe has been arrested for trespassing.

On a recon mission, we discover that Joe’s suspicions about a resurgence of the same readings from that fateful day have occurred. It is not too long after we discover that our new monster, the first to appear in the film, M.U.T.O. (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) is feeding off of the radiation on in the plant to gain power. Many policemen in hardhats scurry as M.U.T.O. rips through high tension wires meant to contain the creature! And we’re off!

Masterful actor Ken Watanabe plays the esteemed Dr. Serizawa, a callback to the original 1954 film. His slideshow demonstration to Ford about the existence of Kaiju and the naming of the “God-monster” Godzilla was the funniest line in the film — and also the biggest reaction from the audience thus far.

From here on out, the movie takes off. An origin of sorts for the monsters are revealed, and it appears that all of our Pacific atomic bomb testing in the 50s was really attempts to kill Godzilla! The monster is a force of nature, to be sure, and acts as a metaphor for environmental concerns of our day.

The action moves from one side of the Pacific to the other, as monsters converge near the final theatre for the battle. In San Francisco Bay, our military heroes, including Ford strategize how to take care of an inhuman threat causing tsunami’s, power outages and of course massive city-wide destruction rivaling only that of Transformers 3 or Man of Steel.

Man of course turns to ‘The Nuclear Option’ with the aid of Lt. Ford Brody, EOD specialist. As teased in the trailer, a C-4 plane of paratroopers drops in as a last ditch human effort.

Director Gareth Edwards (Monsters) takes us on a fun ride here, an effects man himself has taken care to give fans what they want from Godzilla’s roar to M.U.T.O.’s scream all the way to how the monster acts in key points of the film. Is Godzilla an ally to the people of Earth, or is he a monster to be feared as his crushing claw feet squish Hilton Hotels like juice-boxes?

One thing is for sure, the acting is top notch, the story teases monsters straight out of the gate but patiently waits to get there in time. And when it is time to smash and roar you get plenty of it. Some genuinely scary moments have you wishing our heroes were not in so much danger but in one Jurassic Park homage, they duck out of sight of our M.U.T.O.!

If you are a Godzilla fan, you’ve already bought your ticket, and for the rest of you, get out there and see this on the biggest screen you can. The bottom line is that the movie has everything from train fights to monsters to someone heroically saving a school bus full of kids.

Oh, and tanks and explosions.

Take on the God-monster this weekend while theaters are still intact!

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