Godzilla was never a huge part of my childhood and so although I was intrigued by the trailer for the latest monster epic I found it hard to get excited by it. What the trailer did do, which is very clever, is make it seem as though the 200ft reptile was out to destroy mankind, however this was not the case, but we’ll get to that.
I think for Director Gareth Edwards, best known for his independent work on Monsters, taking on this enormous franchise is a big deal, especially on the 60th anniversary of the giant lizard’s appearance. Edwards has said that despite his huge budget he still wanted to revive the Godzilla from the 70s and 80s, showing brief glimpses of the creature as a way of building tension and suspense, drawing from the scenes of Jaws and Alien. However, many critics felt that the King of the Monsters was not given enough screen time and ultimately was not the star of the show. Fair enough. Godzilla doesn’t appear until half way through the film, he is not the only oversized creature and it is hard to get a good look at him with all the rubble, smoke and cityscape night shots. But, and this is a big, scaly but, cinema these days is as much about actors portraying real, human emotion, experiencing events that us viewers will never, hopefully, get the opportunity to experience, as it is about stunning visual effects and CGI. In my opinion, bring back the actor with the Godzilla suit on, running about and stamping all over miniatures. That looked great!
Godzilla has always been a metaphor for the nuclear devastation of Japan in WWII and this new film didn’t fail to address that symbolism. The storyline was clever in the way it linked nuclear tests in the Pacific as a cover-up to destroy the archaic alpha-predator, going on to explain that Godzilla and other giant monsters feed off radiation and as levels on the planet’s surface diminished they adapted to live deeper in the ocean, absorbing nuclear energy from the Earth’s core. As I previously hinted at, Godzilla is not the only skyscraper-tall creature in this film. Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms (MUTOs) are awakened and hatch, searching for radiation to feed off and ultimately gain enough power to release an Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP), disabling all digital devices within range. semi trailer landing gear parts
The MUTO looks a lot like big mosquito with a face like a snub-nosed crocodile clip and prove to be a worthy advisory for Godzilla. They are in almost every way different to Godzilla – Long, thin legged, insect-like, flying and ultimately there is two of them, a male and a female. Godzilla on the other hand is said to have the face of a dog or bear, with the nobility of an eagle, but still fits the description of a massive, lizard dinosaur that breaths fire. Oh yeah, forgot to mention that. It breaths blue fire.
In the film Dr Ishiro Serizawa, played by Ken Watanabe, stresses that Godzilla has come to restore balance and pleads to the military commander not to attack the giant, threatening, reptile-God that looms above the city, and instead to let him destroy the MUTOs and leave… which in fairness Godzilla does, but he also kills a whole bunch of Hawaiians and soldiers in the process. The battle scenes between the monsters does not disappoint and all the anticipation and suspense leads up to some excellent mid-city carnage that is reminiscent of older versions of the film, as staccato, orchestral music dramatizes the epic fights between the creatures and the changing camera angles allow the viewer to become fully immersed in it all. What is absolutely crucial for the viewer is watching this all in the cinema. Godzilla and IMAX go together like woman and diamonds, expensive stuff, but an absolute necessity for happiness.