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In keeping with this month’s feature, Patty reviews Godzilla – one of the biggest creatures of them all!


When the pre-release hype about Godzilla appeared, I have to admit I was sceptical about yet another adaptation or re-imagining or whatever studios now call rehashing old material over and over again. Judging however by the last version we saw (Roland Emmerich’s shoot-up extravaganza) and the director and cast attached to this one, I felt the only way had to be up.
And it was.

The film opens over a series of archive footage of nuclear testing, with tantalising glimpses of Godzilla’s familiar shape amongst the mushroom clouds – proof of his existence years ago but thought to be killed by the bombs. Jumping forward to 1999, unexplained seismic activity brings scientists Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins) to the Philippines where a collapsed mine has revealed a giant hatched cocoon. At the same time, in a nuclear power plant in Japan, resident engineer Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) frets about safety precautions as similar tremors hit them. A reactor is damaged causing a fatal accident and the subsequent shut down of the plant and the surrounding area.

Fifteen years later and still haunted by the accident, Brody continues to suspect a large government cover up. His estranged son, Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), views his conspiracy theories as nothing more than a stubborn need to hold on to the past. After grudgingly agreeing to help Brody retrieve some data from the quarantine zone they are both picked up by the military for trespassing. They are taken to the old power plant which is very much in use and before long they discover that indeed, there is a lot more going on than meets the eye.

Godzilla-Teaser-Poster-2Reservations aside, Godzilla was in good hands with Gareth Edwards at the helm. Having showcased his directorial skills in his low-budget movie Monsters in 2010, he proves to have a knack for bringing – well – monsters, to the big screen. There are no gratuitous jump-out-of-your-seat cuts, minimal fang-bearing or ear-piercing roaring and the fights and action do not clog up the timeline. Instead we get glimpses of the creatures – a foot, a claw, an eye, part of the body – just enough to give us a sense of scale. In other places, they blend seamlessly into the background to be revealed eerily slowly. Godzilla himself is not “re-designed” but kept faithful to the original 1954 version, paying homage to the film’s roots. The film is also peppered with nods to Spielberg’s action movies – something that much to my shame I did not realise until my husband pointed it out. I will however attribute that movie-geek lapse to the quality of the film we were watching – Godzilla may well be a story retold, but it does so respectfully and rather beautifully within the genre it belongs.

Review by Patty Papageorgiou-Axford

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