Summer officially starts in June but in the movie world, it begins in May. Kicking off the summer season was The Amazing Spiderman 2 and to me that film was a major letdown. However, taking the lead in the commencement of the season is a monster so large that even a thousand Pacific Rim Jaeger's would shiver. Godzilla is not only a great monster movie, it is a near perfect summer blockbuster.
[Godzilla](movie:45291) is one of the most immersive films of the summer, pulling you in right from the opening credits. There is a lot riding on the back of this movie and Warner Bros. knows that. Barely a minute into the film, we are already given our first glance at Godzilla. The movie follows radioactive energy scientist and father Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) who loses his wife to a harmful radioactive spill. We fast forward to fifteen years later and immediately see how this tragedy has taken a toll on both Joe and his son, Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Ford is now married and has a son of his own and as much a monster movie as Godzilla is, it is a great family film as well, thematically. The relationship and chemistry between Cranston and Johnson is very believable but even more so is Ford and his wife, Elle (Elizabeth Olsen). They share very little screen time together but the minimal dialogue that they do have with one another easily conveys the strong relationship that they have. The movie is a slight slow burner for the first half hour but it picks up steam and it does so rapidly. As the exposition escalates and more is revealed about why everything is happening, the story becomes so much more immersive and gargantuan. Godzilla is a movie meant to see on the biggest screen possible. Every location and set is used to its fullest potential. Director Gareth Edwards makes this Hollywood blockbuster directorial debut one of the best films to ever utilize IMAX. The sound design is pitch perfect and Alexandre Desplat's score boasts beautifully. It sounds like a monster movie, looks like one and is a damn great one.
The moment Godzilla's spikes make their first appearance, you get chills, the moment we see Godzilla for the first time and hear the iconic roar, you will need to change your pants. His design and concept works brilliantly for a modern depiction of the monster. Although he does appear slightly obese in some shots, the visual effects team nailed it. His scale is not only intimidating but gratifying. He feels like a force to be reckoned with. When Godzilla's feet first make impact and we slowly pan up his body to see his face whip into a deafening roar, it's far from anything but perfect.
However, as great as Godzilla (the character) was, I feel that he wasn't the center of attention. Ford Brody (Johnson) was and Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) steals nearly every scene he's in and (in my opinion) was the most interesting character. It doesn't take away anything from Godzilla. When Godzilla is on screen he owns it but the Brodies have more screen time. There is one incredibly beautiful scene between Godzilla and Ford that I can wholeheartedly place as one of my favorite scenes of all time. It's subtle, it's quick, but it is so perfect. This one moment gave the movie a lot more heart and was easily one of the best scenes of the film.
There are two reasons why this movie does have slight drawbacks. Nearly all of the marketing advertised Cranston as being a lead character, however, this does not remain true. His character has a surprisingly very small amount of screen time. Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) has a longer screen presence and the marketing made it seem as if it would be the exact opposite. With all this said, it doesn't take away from Cranston's performance at all and Watanabe is easily one of the best characters of the film. His character can be mirrored to a teacher, walking the audience through the film and explaining interesting details but he does it in a way that does not feel scripted or planned and that goes onto a very great aspect of the film: the script. The dialogue is very believable and is paced very well. The action sequences are spaced apart confidently and although Godzilla only have several fight scenes, when they occur, they are definitely worth the admission.
Godzilla will please both movie fans and Godzilla fans alike. It takes necessary risks but also provides homage to many classical Godzilla elements. Deplat's score feels like a monster movie and gives it the movie the edge it needs. Edwards implements many creative techniques to explain the size and depth of these monsters with the use of flares and dust. Visually, the film is breathtaking. The color palette is dark and grimy but has this very pleasing aesthetic look. Certain shots linger for more than several seconds and the payoff is chilling. The movie does suffer from a lack of emotional connection during scenes that tried to be emotionally connecting and some actors deserved more screen time but those are very minimal, minor setbacks. Godzilla is a movie perfect for our generation and he has never been more welcomed.