After the disastrous 1998 film from Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin I was reluctant to see to this new version of Godzilla. Thankfully Director Gareth Edwards’s new take on the king of monsters serves both as an homage to its history, and an easy entry point for moviegoers who are new to Godzilla.
The film opens in the year 1999 with the Janjira nuclear plant destroyed with most of its staff killed, including supervisor Joe Brody’s (Bryan Cranston) wife and colleague Sandra Brody (Juliette Binoche). The Japanese government covers up the destruction of the plant and declares the area a “quarantine zone”, but Joe Brody knows better and remains in Japan to uncover the truth, causing a strain between him and his son Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson).
The film then cuts to the present day were Ford is returning home to see his wife Elle (Elizabeth Olsen) and their young son Sam (Carson Bolde) after a 14 month stint with the Navy. But Ford’s welcome home is short lived as he gets a call from Japan and is advised that his farther has been arrested.
Ford heads to Japan to help his farther and perhaps salvage their relationship. But Joe Brody will not rest until the truth of what happened at the plant is discovered. Ford and Joe head to the quarantine zone and witness a chain of events that will forever change their lives and the lives of everyone on the planet.
All actors involved in the film do a very good job bringing that sense of realism to the film, but the real star is of course, Godzilla and director Gareth Edwards does a fantastic job updating the Japanese metaphor of Godzilla (nuclear weapons) to the modern world by making the monster the instrument that restores balance to nature, after mankind’s misuse of it, hence the nuclear meltdown at the beginning. What’s also nice, is the fact that Godzilla is used sparingly throughout the film and only appears when needed or to advance the plot and not reduced as some CGI spectacle that most summer films mistakenly do. Story and effects meld perfectly.
I highly recommend this film, it is a well-made summer blockbuster that restores the name Godzilla to its rightful place atop the movie monster food chain.