Film review: Godzilla

GRAEME TUCKETT
Last updated 05:00 17/05/2014
Godzilla

MONSTER MOVIE: Godzilla has a long and illustrious whakapapa.

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GODZILLA (M)

Directed by Gareth Edwards

Reviewed by Graeme Tuckett

I do love a good monster movie. 

And so too, clearly, does Godzilla director Gareth Edwards. Edward's debut feature was called, err, Monsters, and I happily gave it a rave review in 2010. 

It was made for peanuts, famously had a crew of five people, and was perhaps the best and most accomplished calling card that big-budget Hollywood had seen in a decade.

Now Edwards has been handed the biggest reboot of the season, and a happier marriage of material and director it would be hard to imagine.

Godzilla has a long and illustrious whakapapa.

He first appeared in 1954, and there have been at least 28 "official" Godzilla (or "Gojira") movies since then, including one terribly misguided attempt by Roland Emmerich in 1998 to re-imagine the character for an American audience.

Edwards knows all of this, and much more, and he has at last given Godzilla the Hollywood treatment he deserves.

The origin story - Godzilla is traditionally a prehistoric monster, awakened and mutated by atomic radiation - has been nicely tweaked for a post Fukushima generation.

The action starts in Japan, via a nice brace of cameos from Bryan Cranston and Juliette Binoche, before moving across the Pacific to the Nevada Desert, Las Vegas, and finally San Francisco, for a monster-on-monster brawl that makes King Kong versus that tyrannosaur look like two pre-schoolers scrapping over an ice-cream.

With Aaron Taylor-Johnson, David Strathairn, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, and Elizabeth Olsen giving it their straight-faced all in the leads, some truly astonishing and original special effects (Edwards has a great knack for concealing his CGI behind banks of digital mist and smog.

It works, and the shifting clumps of atmosphere convey scale very simply and effectively), and a very sure hand in the editing suite keeping the action banging along with a minimum of exposition, this is a Godzilla the purists and the newcomers can celebrate. 

At the Wednesday night preview I attended, the crowd were literally clapping and cheering right through the final ten minutes. That's exactly the reaction Godzilla should elicit. Gareth Edwards and his team have done the big fella proud. Bravo.

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