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Return of Godzilla


Be glad to know that director Gareth Edwards’ reboot of the revered Japanese behemoth is more faithful to the 1954 Toho original than the 1998 American remake by Roland Emmerich.
But, forgive the pun, the latest version of Godzilla is an entirely different beast to the many versions that have stomped through Tokyo.
The film kicks off in the Bikini Atoll, where the nuclear tests fail  to wipe out Godzilla. Jump to a nuclear plant in Janjira, Japan, where we meet Joe Brody  (Bryan Cranston) and his wife Sandra (Juliette Binoche) who work as engineers at a Japanese nuclear plant that is destroyed by our favorite mutant monster.
Fast forward fifteen years, and we join their son,   Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) who is a US naval lieutenant living in San Francisco with his wife Elle (Elizabeth Olsen), and  son Sam (Carson Bolde). Ford is forced to leave his family to assist his father when he gets mixed up in trouble back in Japan. The rest of the film follows Ford as he searches for his family amidst the chaos that is created by Godzilla.
The premise of the film works, but the problem is that Taylor-Johnson’s acting is wooden and his character is surprisingly dull, so his journey back to his family is tiring to watch. It doesn’t help that Edwards opted for a slow reveal of the iconic monster (a la Matt Reeves’ Cloverfield). I’m all for a slow reveal to build suspense, but here, the teasing continues even after Godzilla is shown in full glory.
Godzilla may not work well as a  character study, but as a monster film, it succeeds. The audience isn’t engaged by the human characters, but instead by Edwards’ confident direction, and the monster himself. For the first time since the  1954 original, the creature is done justice.  and it’s a relief to see him back as a true force of nature rather than a big, dumb dinosaur rampaging the streets of New York City looking for fish to eat (ahem Emmerich). Gareth Edwards set out to make a “real Godzilla movie”, and he does. Even though the latest Godzilla doesn’t live up to the potential that its talented cast and crew promised, it’s still the most satisfying Gojira offering yet, so Kaiju fans rejoice, for the King of Monsters is back.

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