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Godzilla: Fitting Tribute to Godzilla’s History

Posted on the 16 May 2014 by Haricharanpudipeddi @pudiharicharan

Movie: Godzilla

Director: Gareth Edwards

Cast: Ken Watanabe, Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor Johnson, Juliette Binoche, Elizabeth Olsen

Rating: ****

In an important scene in this mega budget spin-off of Japanese monster Godzilla, the creature is referred to as God because it is on top of the food chain and is considered as king of the world. Why god you may ask? It’s because since time immemorial man has always found that there’s something out there for us to worship or fear, and it’s gone away for a while but it returns in this man versus nature story in the most unexpected way. Director Gareth Edwards doesn’t turn Godzilla into another creature of mass destruction in this fitting reboot, but instead intelligently draws inspiration from the 1954 classic and explains its evolution and why it has resurfaced this time.

Edwards’s Godzilla is not you’re high-octane summer action blockbuster. Instead of cashing in on the global fandom of the giant lizard, known for knocking down huge skyscrapers with a swing of its tail, the story focuses more on the human drama that unfolds against the backdrop of a battle involving Godzilla and two giant creatures called MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms). Here, Godzilla comes to restore balance to something mankind has disrupted. In a way, it could be said that the hero of the film is none other than the Godzilla himself. Therefore, the film doesn’t pit Godzilla against man, but had it battling other creatures.

Somewhere Gareth tries to prove that it’s through our abuse of nature parasites such as MUTO have emerged and to fight them ‘God’ zilla has returned. This theory is touched in the beginning of the film where we’re shown what the Japs actually did in the name of nuclear testing in 1954 and what were the repercussions of their actions. It also helps us understand why MUTO are attracted to radiation, and if they are the consequences of our abuse on nature for all these years, what is Godzilla? It’s nature’s mascot.

It’s only during the last fifteen minutes; we get a good look at Godzilla and witness its fighting prowess. I felt like watching Godzilla through the lens that was used to shoot Cloverfield, in which also we seldom got to see the creature. Gareth keeps shifting focus on the human drama every time the creatures locked horns, emphasizing on the fact that his story is about survival and far different from Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla. And since the focus is more on the human drama, we get to empathize for the Godzilla as it protects mankind from MUTO. However, that’s not bad news for action buffs because the film does feature spectacular action sequences at regular intervals and one mighty final battle to finish with a bang.

The film looks visually majestic and Godzilla, my god, looks like an animal that existed for real. Edwards in one of his interviews said that the look of his creature was inspired from Sam the Eagle, one of the characters from The Muppets. The monster looks aggressive, sharper and ever walks on all the fours. With a great cast featuring Cranston and Binoche, who tried their best to shoulder the film with their performances, we don’t see stellar performances by the rest of the cast, who are reduced to merely reacting out of fear and ducking for cover. This is one big area of concern for the film, which otherwise turned out to be brilliant.

Gareth Edwards proves to the world that not all summer blockbusters are about power-packed action extravaganza. He may not be a Michael Bay, but it’s good that he’s not as we get a product that has its heart in the right place. This is probably the best Godzilla film you’ll ever see that’s not so Godzilla, if you know what I mean.

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