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The king of monsters: Godzilla returns

Film

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Everyone’s favourite giant monster, Godzilla, returns to the big screen in a big way in director Gareth Edwards’ new blockbuster. And while this reboot of the 1954 classic is a very good film, it just misses out on being a great one.

As a monster movie, it delivers all the necessary thrills in some jaw-dropping CGI monster battles. There’s no man in a suit here – instead, we have the largest Godzilla on celluloid, towering at a whopping 150 metres tall, destroying everything in his wake. Visually, the film is a treat, and while not as colourful as the recent Pacific Rim, this Godzilla is more realistic.

Where the film falls flat is in the human tale. The talents of Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai) and Juliette Binoche (The English Patient) are under-utilised, and the main human hero – played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, as US Navy bomb disposal specialist Brody Ford – fails to convey the necessary emotion needed to generate real empathy for his plight.

While this would derail most movies, the incredible action sequences between the big G and his arch rivals (two beasts named MUTOs) mean Godzilla is still worth seeing.

The film explores how a modern society would cope with the awakening of ancient giant beasts that threaten to ravage the Earth, set against the more personal story of a family torn apart by a tragedy that occurred decades ago. The early focus is on Joe Brody (Cranston), who is driven almost insane trying to uncover the truth about his wife’s death at a Japanese nuclear power plant; even his son Brody doubts his crazy theories.

Soon the truth is unleashed in monstrous style as the MUTOs wreak havoc, with mankind powerless to stop them. Cue Watanabe’s Dr Ishiro Serizawa, who knows that nature has a way to restore order and balance – Godzilla!

Director Edwards ramps up tension by saving the big reveal of the film’s main star, our anti-hero giant lizard, for late in the film. Some have argued that he cuts away from the rampage too often to focus on the humans caught up in this chaos, but the adage that less is more is true here. And it is well worth the wait for Godzilla.

Film company Toho’s 1954 original was more a commentary on a post-atomic Japan and, while touching on this, Edwards is more focused on the arrogance of humans thinking they can control nature.

Flaws aside, Godzilla is a fun film, especially for fans of the original. Two sequels are already confirmed with Edwards again at the helm; hopefully the next outing will deliver a more rounded spectacle.

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