Legendary Pictures’ “Godzilla”
Directed By: Gareth Edwards
Produced By: Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, Mary Parent, Brian Rogers
Screenplay By: Max Borenstein
As a fair warning to those who haven’t seen the film, this review shall contain spoilers. You have been warned. That being said, I will focus on three aspects of the film, the pacing of the story, the villainous MUTOs, and the King of Monsters himself
As far as story is concerned, a lot of what others have said is true, it does indeed take a time for Godzilla to truly show up but one must also consider the fact that a good majority of his films oftentimes have this same trope going for them. Destroy All Monsters is a film that’s a little over an hour and a half in length and I’m fairly certain that Godzilla is in it for all of twenty minutes if even that much. Legendary’s Godzilla follows in the same formula as other monster movies, building up both Godzilla’s arrival and focusing predominately on the adversaries he faces. At first, I was disappointed until I recognized that, frankly speaking, this wasn’t so much a reboot of the titular monster as it is an alternative retelling. While newcomers to the franchise might be a bit lost on Godzilla’s history, any fan can tell you of his origins easily and any movie wherein Godzilla faces an adversary, the film often features that villainous foe more than Godzilla himself.
On the note of the MUTOs, which does indeed stand for Massive Unidentified Terrestial Organism, I apprecriate the naming convention that they use in place of kaiju as connections would falsely be made to Pacific Rim but I feel that once it was a bit of a let down. When it became clear that the two were of the same species albeit different genders, a more befitting name for them should have been at least. As far as design goes, the MUTOs are definitely of an insect nature if an insect could come from the deepest bowels of the Underworld. Not to say that either of them are nightmarish but man if I didn’t get the willies when the female showed up with egg sac in tow…
The MUTOs also possess a unique form of attack given that they, like Godzilla, hunger for radioactive materials. By channeling energies through their foreclaws, they are able to create an electromagnetic pulse that can, quite literally, surround them an invisible field. This in itself wouldn’t be too much of a problem with the female as it is bound by land but the smaller male has the ability to fly.
As to Godzilla himself… I have heard many Japanese critic him for his size, or rather his girth. I find that to be rather hypocritical of them to say especially when Legendary Gojira, as the fans call him, is surprisingly agile given his stature. Not to hate on any of the past incarnations of Godzilla, but it wasn’t until Final Wars that he slimmed down to a point where he actually did something remotely close to running. Still, a lot of fans I’m sure will be grateful to see that unlike the previous American incarnation, Legendary’s Godzilla actually has a nuclear breath attack that I swear, the moment he started charging up for it, the entire theater collectively held their breaths and roared alongside him the moment it was unleashed.
But there was one thing above everything else that I think truly made Legendary’s Godzilla live up to the name. I’ve heard that Gareth Edwards describes this Godzilla as a “kind of like a noble, ancient warrior – the rest of his kind is long gone, and he’s happy to just keep to himself. And reluctantly only comes up when he has to correct something that’s wrong with the world. That was the character we were going for.” I can assuredly say without a doubt that is precisely the kind of character Godzilla is in this film. There is a moment, shortly following the defeat of the male MUTO and a building dropping down on top of him, that we see Godzilla’s hand come down and we catch a glimpse of his gaze as he looks at a nearby soldier. There’s a strangely human tiredness in that gaze, the kind of exhaustion that only come from one whose whole existence has been one fight after another and though not close to being at the end of his rope, you can sympathize with Godzilla’s desire for rest. There have been such moments where one can see the almost human level sentience in Godzilla or something of a similar if not greater nature, but never in such a simple, tiny moment and done in such a way that leaves one breathless.
Whether you are a fan of Godzilla or not, this is a film I recommend. You may like it, you may tolerate it, or you may even come to love it. Either way, this is a film the likes of which all should see because this a film that proves that a king may lay down his crown but nothing can prevent him from picking it up back up again.
Long live the King.