Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a Navy bomb expert, has just reunited with his family in San Francisco when he is forced to go to Japan to help his estranged father, Joe (Bryan Cranston). Soon, both men are swept up in an escalating crisis when Godzilla, King of the Monsters, arises from the sea to combat malevolent adversaries that threaten the survival of humanity. The creatures leave colossal destruction in their wake, as they make their way toward their final battleground: San Francisco.
It’s the summer of 2014. Back when every single movie I saw in the theatre automatically became my new favorite movie of all-time. In the months leading up to Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla, many trailers and promotional materials were released to hype up the film, and I and one of my best friends were beyond excited to see this new iteration of the classic Kaiju monster on the big screen.
So we went to the local theatre together on opening night and it was one of the most vivid theatre experiences I have ever had. My friend absolutely adored the film and gave it his seal of approval, but I was left feeling remarkably disappointed, mainly because of the lack of the titular creature throughout the movie’s running time.
Despite Godzilla being the title, the creature only has approximately eight minutes of screen-time in his own movie. This is going to be a massive turn-off for many moviegoers and it certainly upset me when I first viewed the movie all those years ago. But in truth, the last time I watched Godzilla was back in that theatre in 2014. And so seeing as how Godzilla vs. Kong is set to release this March, I figured now would be the perfect time to go back to the beginning of the MonsterVerse with Godzilla to see if my thoughts on the film would be different seven years later. And they were different. Drastically.
I deeply appreciate the direction Edwards took this story. As I said earlier, many people would expect this to be a non-stop action extravaganza, but Edwards never intended it to be that way. Instead, he wanted to tell a deeply moving and suspenseful story about the fear that this creature causes to innocent people all around the world. It excellent showcases the fear and paranoia that slowly sets in with these people as they realize that this may be their final day on Earth.
So whenever Godzilla actually does appear, it feels like something absolutely horrifying has just appeared on-screen. You feel dread deep in your stomach and you feel terrified for the people on Earth that obviously have no idea what’s going on and what this monster is. What does it want with us? Is it harmful to us or an ally? Godzilla expertly explores these questions and serves as a deep and thought-provoking story.
Usually, in a movie that has a giant monster in it, you wouldn’t really care about the human characters as much, which is definitely understandable. But, gratefully, that is not the case with Godzilla. I cared deeply for all the human characters in this story. Whenever they were in peril, I felt genuinely scared for them and I wanted them to survive and get past this terrible event.
It also helps that the actors are absolutely amazing in their roles. Aaron Taylor-Johnson delivers a layered and emotionally riveting performance as the film’s main human character Ford Brody. But possibly even better here is Bryan Cranston in a small but crucial role. It’s one of the first roles Cranston had ever the amazing ride that was Breaking Bad and this movie further proves how terrific of an actor he is.
It’s amazing what time can do to a movie. I remember not really liking this movie too much when I was fourteen because I was vastly disappointed with the lack of action and thrill. But as I watch Godzilla years later, I realize that the thrill was there all along. I just didn’t notice it was there until now.
Overall Grade: A
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem, and creature violence
Directed by: Gareth Edwards
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: May 16, 2014
Running Time: 123 minutes