What happens when you take a director with a love and reverence for Spielberg classics Jaws, Jurassic Park and Close Encounters of the Third Kind and mix it with the trauma fulled intensity of the 1954 original Toho Godzilla? In Gareth Edwards’ stunning follow up to his lo-fi debut Monsters, the 2 influences converge to create one of the most misunderstood mainstream films of recent memory.
Complaints about the lack of screen time for both Godzilla and Cranston are getting old fast, but it’s hard to deny that their absences can be felt, especially in the film’s weakest link; its second act. Not that the rest of the cast let the side down, but Cranston does bring a certain heftiness that is lost when he’s not around and well… it’d be nice to have Godzilla in a Godzilla movie. Regardless, can we just drop it now? There’s so much still left to admire.
It’s hard to recall another blockbuster from the last few years that has as many shots that linger in the memory. Filled with striking images; a pilot parachuting silently through eerie fog, flaming wreckage floating downstream a river, halo jumpers leaving behind a trail of red smoke as they descend into hell. Awesome in the truest sense of the word, the visuals are bolstered by the best sound design of the year (which thankfully still holds up on blu-ray) and a superbly intense Alexander Desplat score.
The titular lizard (when he does bother to show up) is wonderfully realized and his introduction is sublime, as we are teased shot by shot, until we finally see him in all of his glory and hear his deafening roar as he prepares to fight the MUTO (the films other, bizarrely more focused upon, monster). It’s really something. It’s just a shame that what follows, as the fight is about to begin, is perhaps the biggest “fuck you” in cinema history.
Still with effective human drama, breathtaking aesthetics and some of the best popcorn moments of the decade, Godzilla is worth the occasional frustration.
The extras are (refreshingly) very technically minded, rather than attempting to justify the film as something it isn’t, the filmmakers revel in the opportunity to showcase all of the hard work that went into the set pieces, production design, sound and visual FX work. Edwards provides insight on some of his more controversial decisions and on his directing style, all of which is far more interesting and revealing than the usual “everyone was great” crap that we usually get. Not that the special features alienate those who aren’t interested in the film-making process, there’s some nice discussion of the legacy of Godzilla and some mock leaked footage and news broadcasts that cleverly build on the film’s world and tie up some loose ends and plot holes, functioning as a kind of epilogue to the narrative. There’s also a great featurette on the film’s masterful Halo Jump sequence, a seriously strong contender for set-piece of the year.
Godzilla (2014), directed by Gareth Edwards, is released on Blu-Ray and DVD in the UK by Warner Home Video, Certificate 12.