Sunday, June 1, 2014

Now in Theaters: Godzilla (2014)

Godzilla (2014) - Directed by Gareth Edwards; Written by Max Borenstein; Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn, Juliette Binoche.

By Kenny Howell

My biggest complaints about summer movies these days is they don't really know how to have fun anymore.

At times, Godzilla remembers how to do that. That doesn't save it from its summer movie trappings of silliness, but it at least makes the time worthwhile.

The movie starts in 1999. Joe Brody (Cranston) is a scientist living in Japan and working at a nuclear power plant. One morning, some strange seismic activity is threatening the plant, and Brody tries to get them to shut it down. However, the activity gets out of control and the plant collapses, killing his wife.

Fast forward to present day, and Brody's son, Ford (Taylor-Johnson, Kick-Ass 2), now a Navy soldier, is living in San Francisco with his wife (Olsen, Kill Your Darlings) and child. His father is still living in Japan investigating what happened that day, and he keeps getting in trouble with the Japanese government. He is trespassing on the land surrounding the former power plant. It is now quarantined, fearing that the radiation would harm anyone close by, but he doesn't buy it.

When Ford gets to Japan, Joe convinces him to go onto the land so he can prove he is not crazy, and something is being hidden there. They do, get captured, but the thing they are trying to hide starts to break loose. It is a giant Mothra like creature that comes out of a sort of hibernation, destroys the plant again, and heads out to the Pacific Ocean. Ford goes back to San Francisco to be with his family, knowing disaster could be coming. The beast follows him through stops in Hawaii, and onto the mainland. That beasts awakens the one that people come to see, Godzilla, who aims to stop the monster from reaching its target.

Like many summer movies, things are quite conveniently set up so our heroes are able to succeed, or to push the story further along. But, when the monsters come alive, director Gareth Edwards gives the film a jolt. It is one that might not have the same effect at home, but in the theater, Edwards takes full advantage of the big screen, and really breathes life into the story, or lack thereof.

Like most summer movies, it could have been better, but at least Edwards remembered why we go to these types of movies - to have fun.

Rating: **1/2

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