Godzilla (★★★)

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godzilla_ver2When there’s smoke, there’s fire and the screen is ablaze in Gareth Edward‘s reboot Godzilla.  From a technical and aesthetic level, the film is unmatched by anything seen in 2014 thus far.  Exhibiting such creative styles of directing, Edwards hones in on all of Godzilla’s personality traits that have made him such an icon to the cinematic universe.  Everything from his choices of screen shots, brilliantly set up by Oscar-nominated Cinematographer Seamus McGarvey, and his approval of Alexandre Desplat‘s haunting score, Edwards successfully brings Godzilla in to the new century with admiration and respect.  This is one of the most entertaining summer blockbusters of its kind since Jurassic Park.

There’s nothing that can benefit any person seeking to see the film if I reveal any plot points.  I did an admirable job of steering clear of any plot spoilers that could have ruined the experience.  I implore all movie goers to exercise the same discipline for any future franchises or films they are anxiously awaiting.  What I will speak about is the at times, uneven script by Max Borenstein and Dave Callaham.  Borenstein’s most notable credit is Swordswallowers and Thin Men (2003) and Callaham has had a hand in The Expendables franchise and Doom.  The first third of the film is succinctly riveting, and full of rich and layered characters that lay an incredible foundation for the story.  After a key character is disposed of forty minutes in, the story takes clichéd approaches to action heroes that both feel unnatural and unrealistic.  Understanding that this is science fiction, I need a strong level of believability for a film to succeed.  There are several instances that eye-rolling occurred and annoyance set in.

From an acting stand point, there are many great things that are being displayed.  Bryan Cranston is a true highlight, full of ferocity and emotion that settles the viewer as much as he creates nervous tension.  I’ll fully admit to gushing over the reality that now, Academy Award nominated actress Sally Hawkins, is now in a summer blockbuster franchise and slowly becoming a mainstream entity.  As the lead, Aaron Taylor-Johnson executes when appropriate and challenges his own abilities as we’ve come to miss in films like Savages and Kick-Ass.  In this franchise, Taylor-Johnson illuminates as a more confident, detailed version of “Jake Sully” (Sam Worthington) from Avatar.  Another true highlight is Elizabeth Olsen, who continues to be one of my favorite actresses working without THE role yet.  Though she’s minimized to cheap crying and terrified screams, Olsen stands out.

godzilla-aaron-taylor-johnson-slice1The rest of the all-star cast: David Strathairn, Ken Watanabe, Juliette Binoche, and Victor Rasuk are all solid performers in otherwise, underwritten and/or misfired roles.

Production Designer Owen Paterson builds an apocalyptic world to an outstanding degree, especially in one that takes place in present day.  He’s excelled in things like this before with past efforts in The Matrix and V for Vendetta.  The Visual Effects team is simply astonishing.  Godzilla looks superb.  Every detail, nuance, and mannerism is marvelously captured.  It’s the strongest visual medium that the year has offered.  If there’s one thing that you can take to the Oscar bank, it’s the Visual Effects team.  I am also completely enamored by the Sound Mixing and Sound Editing that was audibly enticing to the ears.

Godzilla is pure fun and pure entertainment, no matter how you slice it.  If you’re looking for something to offer up some great laughs, visuals, and thrills, you have it all right here.  There’s more depth to the film, something that many will find and latch onto however, it’s not a complete home run like one would have hoped.  It’s still vastly superior to the garbage that was the 1998 film.  This Godzilla is just fine.  By the way, if you can, IMAX 3D is just what the doctor ordered on this film.  Do yourself a favor, and fill the prescription.

Godzilla opens in theaters Friday, May 16.

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