Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Godzilla ★★1/2

    With summer less than a month away, the movie industry has already begun its plunge into blockbuster films that evoke little emotion and deliver an overabundance of vacuous entertainment.

    "Godzilla" has made his way back into the theater with this reboot of the classic monster film genre. With an upgrade in the computer imaging department, this rendition of Godzilla also provides an atmosphere of modernity and a human element that has been direly absent in the franchise in the past.

    Our film begins with a montage of images from the 1950s that tell the story of our beloved king of all monsters. We learn that Godzilla was awakened by nuclear tests and that the United States government strived to destroy the beast with a nuclear bomb. (Imagine that.) The attempt was predictably unsuccessful, and Godzilla retired back into the depths of the ocean.

    The film fast forwards to the year of 1999 and becomes eerily reminiscent to "Jurassic Park." Helicopters zoom over an island located in the Philippines, and we come face to face with an enormous mining site, which, apparently, has been harboring a prehistoric skeleton and eggs. One of the eggs has recently hatched and the unidentified creature escapes, only to rain destruction on a nuclear plant in nearby Japan.

    And this is where the previously forgotten human component is introduced. At this moment, it becomes evident that the focus will be less on Godzilla and will shift to this family who, willingly or not, will become active participants in this story.      

    Joe Brody and his wife are employees at the nuclear plant in Janjira, Japan. The plant is leveled due to the startling increase in seismic activity, unknowingly caused by this mysterious creature, and Joe's wife dies in the tragic accident. (This is the only scene in the film that lends itself to any perception of sentimental value or to a tension filled atmosphere.)

    Bryan Cranston, who is best known for his role in the hit television series entitled "Breaking Bad," portrays this man whose life was tarnished by this supposed mishap caused by an earthquake. His life becomes one of an endless inquisitive nature, and Joe knows that something is being hidden. It is his sole desire to learn the truth of that event and find out what exactly was the source of his wife's death.              

    The story shifts to the present and Joe's son, Ford, becomes the center of attention. Ford is a grown man who, unlike his father, has let go of the past and has established himself with a career and family in San Francisco, California. After receiving a call that informs him of his father's arrest in Japan, Ford begrudgingly catches the next flight out to resolve the issue.

    This will lead directly to the uncovering of the Janjira nuclear plant accident and to the return of the MUTO, or massive unidentified terrestrial organism, that originally brought disaster to the area. Additionally, the second MUTO will hatch, thus awakening Godzilla from hibernation in order to eliminate these nuisances, who feed off radiation, and to prevent civilization from entering into a second Stone Age.

    The performances in this film are hardly commendable and feature a cast with little to no allure. Aaron Taylor-Johnson plays Ford Brody with a lack of enthusiasm and a rather monotonic approach to his dialogue. (Void of all emotion.) With such an emphasis on human characterization, this film does not succeed in giving the viewer a reason to essentially care about these individuals.

    If death is their ultimate fate, then I must say that sorrow would be a lost notion altogether.

    And now for our computer-enhanced star: Godzilla's presence is the most satisfying portion of the film, as it rightfully should be. He is as domineering and ferocious as one would think him to be. He lurks among the shadows of the gloom filled skies of San Francisco Bay and creates tumultuous roars that would make any grown man tremble.

    Yet, Godzilla seemingly has no motivation to kill these monsters and to save humanity, except, of course, for the fact that it is his job. He is a product of nature and acts as the balancing force between peace and tribulation on Earth. Why else would he help the race of man, who intended to kill him half a century earlier?

    There is something mysteriously intriguing about the character of Godzilla. Maybe it is because after all these years we still do not know what makes him tick. Is it possible that Godzilla can become more than just a warrior among the skyscrapers? I wonder if perhaps he has a family or children in which he cares for in his free time.

    As the film closes, we get the inevitable feeling that this will not be the last time we see this new   presentation of Godzilla. A sequel featuring fresh and innovative creations to threaten humanity is destined to be, and our lead monster will once again play the role of savior. I just hope that, next time around, Godzilla doesn't take a backseat to the plot and becomes more than just a walking and roaring anti-hero.

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