It has been a rough time for Godzilla. Ever since the debacle that was the 1998 Hollywood movie, the monster has laid low for more than a decade.
Now, the people behind last year's robot-versus-monster smash-them-up, ‘Pacific Rim’, have kicked it back to life, with Gareth Edwards, director of the 2010 indie hit ‘Monsters’, calling the shots.
The story of this Godzilla revolves around two camps of characters.
The first: the Brody family, centred around the duo of Joe (Bryan Cranston), a nuclear physicist, and his son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) who grows up to become a bomb disposal specialist in the army. Elizabeth Olsen plays Elle, Ford's wife.
Bryan Cranston (left) and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (right) carry the human drama of the film
The second: a pair of scientists played by Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins.
Interestingly, director Edwards seems quite concerned with the plausibility of something as ridiculous as Godzilla even existing, and he goes to extreme lengths to set up the whole premise.
So there is plenty of science whiz jibber jabber and military-speak that can blow on by if you're not paying attention.
This is not to say that it is a poor approach, it does serve to set up a couple of classic ‘Godzilla’ movie tropes: the twin threats of nuclear fear and Mother Nature.
If the goal was to ground the film in some sort of reality, it is achieved. The film's solemn tone and dull, grimy palette of grey and brown fit the image of a world on the brink of a nuclear disaster.
The sombre palette sets up the pre-apocalyptic world of the film
The serious tone also serves to highlight and contrast the majestic image of Godzilla, when he finally appears.
Speaking of that, the monster doesn't appear in the movie until a long bit in. That seems like a drawback since it is the main attraction and the reason people are going to watch this movie, but the slowburn and the grand reveal ensure a jaw-dropping experience when it does happen.
Until then though, the human drama carrying the movie for the first hour or so focuses on the Brody clan. It turns out to be a little unsatisfying, as the characters hardly have enough time to develop.
Cranston, who plays the father Joe, channels his inner Harrison Ford, while the rest of the cast are bland at the very worst. It's a definite weakness of the film, but it is never an entire deal breaker.
That's purely because we know who is the headliner. And after waiting for it, the audience is rewarded with an hour of nonstop monster-on-monster action.
Watching gigantic beasts tear up San Francisco while beating the snot out of each other is truly a sight to behold.
This ‘Godzilla’ is a thrilling update that brings pure escapist fun and even some unexpected scientific smarts to the monster genre in the 21st century.