“Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”
Fifteen years after an ‘incident’ at a Japanese nuclear power plant, physicist Joe Brody joins forces with his soldier son Ford to eke out the truth of what really happened. What they uncover is prelude to global-threatening devastation. An epic rebirth to Toho’s iconic Godzilla, this spectacular adventure pits the world’s most famous monster against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence.
After last year’s Pacific Rim, Del Torro’s love letter to japanese kaiju films. Hollywood present us with another kaiju film, Godzilla. Vastly different from hollywood’s previous attempt in adapting the king of monsters to the big screen through 1998 Emerich version which received poorly among fans and critics alike. Gareth Andrews version seems to be more faithful to its japanese origins. The role of Godzilla is very different as well, no longer the main villain, casting it in a more ambiguous role if not heroic like its later japanese films counterpart. Japanese Godzilla producer Shogo Tomiyama draws the parallel between Godzilla to a Shinto’s God of Destruction which “lacks moral agency and cannot be held to human standards of good and evil, it sole purpose is to bring back the balance to a disturbed nature”.
The biggest installment of Godzilla yet (quite literally, since its the tallest Godzilla ever dominate the screen) was casting the king of monsters in that ambiguous role. Restoring the balance of the world in danger under the threath of M.U.T.O (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism). The film of course opened with a back story that goes back to nuclear testing in the 50s to the accidental discovery of a two pods containing MUTO in The Philippines in 1999. The appearance of the two monsters causing havoc and destructions that was realized by state of the art CGIs. G0dzilla was designed as faithfully to its japanese counterparts, rather than the t-rex look-a-like that appears in its 1998 rendition.
The technical aspect of the film definitely is the strength of the film. The grand scoring from Desplat manage to add an emphasis to the atmosphere of the film. The visual effects are jaw-droppingly good. I love the hide-and-seek surprises of the MUTO and Godzilla that made the whole film felt rather old school in a good, nostalgic way (remember Jurassic Park?). But Godzilla is not devoid of flaws. The thing is, just like Pacific Rim, the film major chink in its armor (or scaly hide) is the human aspect of the film. To balance out the monsters, we were introduced to several human characters that include a pair of scientist (Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins), a family that suffered lost from the attack (Bryan Cranston and Juliette Binoche) and led by Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen (and their super cute boy). Although Watanabe (in his tense, japanese-y way) and Cranston (as hyper-emotional as he was) manage to gain my sympathy, i immediately lost my interest when Taylor-Johnson took the majority of time as the lead. He had good roles in his career but this is just not one of them. I think his character was so flat and so replaceable, i kept recasting his roles with just almost any other 20s-30s actors in my head. (I kept thinking that Tatum would be much more interesting to watch.
I have never seen the original 1954 Japanese production of Godzilla, but i grew up watching japanese tokusatsu films, and there’s a sense of nostalgia when i saw Godzilla as it moves about the screen. I think this adaptation of Godzilla still manage to hold on to the heart of it as a kid film. I know i was plastered on the edge of my seat when it appears. I can’t help but wanting to point my finger at it and say ‘look mommy, dinasour!’ not unlike the kid in the movie :D
GENRE Science Fiction, Monster
DIRECTOR Gareth Edwards | PRODUCER Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, Mary Parent, Brian Rogers | WRITER Max Borenstein, David S. Goyer | CINEMATOGRAPHER Seamus McGarvey | MUSIC Alexandre Desplat | EDITOR Bob Ducsay | STUDIO Warner Bros. Pictures, Toho, Legendary Pictures | DISTRIBUTOR Warner Bros. Pictures, Toho | COUNTRY United States, Japan | RUNNING TIME 123 minutes | BUDGET $160 Million | RATING PG-13 for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence | RELEASE May 14, 2013 (ID), May 16, 2013 (US)
STARRING Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins, David Straithairn, Bryan Cranston
DID YOU KNOW? Godzilla in japanese is spelled with katakana Gojira (ゴジラ) which is a portmanteau of the Japanese words gorira (ゴリラ, “gorilla”) and kujira (鯨 (クジラ), “whale”), which is fitting because in one planning stage, Godzilla was described as “a cross between a gorilla and a whale”, alluding to his size, power and aquatic origin. Contrary to popular belief, the name “Godzilla” is not the idea of the American distributor. Toho came up with “Godzilla” as an English transliteration of the name “Gojira”. The Japanese-to-English translation method of the Americans in the 1950’s also proved that Godzilla was the correct English translation of Gojira.