What would happen if Godzilla was real? That’s the concept originally proposed back when the movie first got announced. A couple years ago, over at San Diego Comic Con, the first “trailer” emerged, showcasing mountains of destruction with only a sneak peak of everyone’s favorite radioactive dinosaur. Back then, it looked like director Gareth Edwards’ interpretation of the legendary pop culture beast would be to try and revisit the destructive nature that Godzilla could be; Mother Nature unleashed. Last year at Comic Con, Godzilla was briefly showcased in battle with another monster, and that was it. Even so, all later trailers would seem to imply that this was the monster movie we had all been waiting for and that Godzilla would lay waste to everything and everyone in his path; the inclusion of another monster was just an added bonus. This was not the case.
Rather than a Godzilla unleashed film, we get a Godzilla savior-of-the-world movie. Don’t get me wrong, I love a benign Godzilla who fights to protect the Earth but I was misled, as many were, by the trailers and all the crumbling buildings and carnage displayed. For what it’s worth, Godzilla causes very little, if any, meaningful destruction. What he destroys, he does so accidentally, and it’s the Muto, the bug-like monstrosities he fights, that lay waste to multiple cities. As it stands, Godzilla only appears in the movie for a little over 17 minutes.
I’ve read critics liken Godzilla to Jaws, comparing the two films’ subtle and slow approach in introducing their respective monsters, but the two couldn’t be more dissimilar. Godzilla, while a natural force, definitely serves a goodly force, and keeping him cloaked in the shadows only aids in making his revealing applause-worthy, rather than terrifying.
Having said all that, there are still moments in Godzilla that are positively phenomenal; including his final fight with the Muto. Bryan Cranston dominates every scene he’s in, and is the only character, aside from Godzilla, who actually aids to the movie’s intriguing and awesome tone. That’s not to say each actor doesn’t add a little extra flavor, but with so many human characters, we find ourselves getting distracted with silly human drama, when what we’d rather be seeing is giant monsters beating the stuffing out of one another.
Regardless, Godzilla should be praised if for nothing else, than for bringing the King of the Monsters to a new generation. There’s haven’t been many big screen adaptations of Godzilla since the horror that was Roland Emmerich’s 1997 debacle, though I suppose you can always count Godzilla 2000. For all those young folks who never grew up with the King, Godzilla offers a lovely segue into a world full of wonder and giant monsters with atomic fire breath.