A monster … who is also a hero? Well, sort of.
Godzilla is a household name in both the U.S. and abroad, and the larger-than-life monster is once again reborn this summer under new direction from Gareth Edwards. From Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, this modern take on the classic monster film fuses balance-of-nature-restoring fight scenes between monsters with tales of human relationships and emotional struggles in a way that will leave audiences satisfied.
In Godzilla, Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston), an engineer who works at the Janjira nuclear plant in Japan, discovers a mysterious seismic activity pattern that quickly results in a meltdown within the plant, resulting in the death of his wife and, in a way, his sanity.
Cut to 15 years later, and Joe is still searching for answers behind the mysterious meltdown. Misunderstood for nothing more than a crazed man holding fast to a conspiracy theory—even by his own son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), who is now a Navy EOD technician—Joe is arrested in Japan for trespassing in a quarantine zone, where he attempts to recover research documents from his abandoned home. After an extremely brief (and adorable) reunion with his son and wife, Ford must travel to Japan to collect his father and bring him back to the U.S., which Ford hopes will put an end to his father’s obsession. However, audiences learn quickly that maybe Joe isn’t so crazy after all—cue the monsters!
This year, Godzilla is up against MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism), and while there are enthralling scenes of Godzilla attacking the flying beast with horrifying red eyes, the film is not simply a non-stop, 120-minute battle—it’s much, much more.
Ford’s wife Elle (Elizabeth Olsen) and son Sam (Carson Bolde) are the perfect depiction of the struggle of military families, with Elle putting complete faith in her husband while trying to keep her child safe and Ford grappling between returning to his family and using his skills and knowledge to assist in saving the world.
Additionally, Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) believes in the power of Godzilla’s ability to restore the order of balance from the beginning of the film, showing audiences that monsters aren’t so black-and-white. Serizawa allows audiences to root for Godzilla, despite his terrifying stature and his tendency to destroy everything in his path—he works for the greater good.
The CGI-animation is simply stunning, and while Godzilla and MUTO spend a lot of time fighting in far-away ways (like via an on-screen news broadcast), there is enough high-energy monster brawling to engage franchise fans.
The original motion picture soundtrack from Alexandre Desplat also deserves a shout out. His original compositions really captured the spirit of the film, featuring suspenseful, ominous crescendos with modern undertones. Each song felt both classic and rejuvenating at the same time.
Keep in mind the film is rated PG-13, and might be a bit too scary, a bit too loud, and a bit too full of body bags (and, uhm, giant radioactive-fire-breathing monsters) for younger viewers. But tweens, teens, and adults are sure to enjoy this modern take on the fright fest of monster movies past.