When a modern reboot of a classic franchise is announced, audiences and fans often let loose a giant groan. In particular, the “Godzilla” franchise has a nasty streak of confusing rips and tears in its continuity, from the Japanese reboot in 1985 to the infamously terrible American reboot in 1998.Thankfully, unlike Roland Emmerich’s disastrous interpretation, 2014’s “Godzilla” is a film that, while refreshing the series for new audiences, still remains faithful and respectful towards the monster’s roots.
The film opens 60 years ago when a giant, ancient, unknown monster, that isn’t Godzilla and that lives on nuclear energy is awakened. Many years later, Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad”) and his son, Ford (Aaron Johnson-Taylor, “Kick-Ass”), begin investigating a conspiracy theory in the old, abandoned Japanese city of Janjira, where they uncover the secret, learn the awful truth, and prepare for a clash between giants.
Throughout the film’s first half, Godzilla is kept tantalizingly hidden from view as the film focuses on the drama between Brody, his son and the other human characters. The film teases the audiences with Godzilla’s trademark scales, but never truly reveals him until halfway through the film.
And what a spectacle he is! While he is computer generated, he’s animated in such a way that reflects the old special effects of the original films. The monster is clearly CG, but he still moves around like a man in a suit, which respects the monster’s origins. When he makes his first appearance, it inspires a sense of simultaneous awe, terror and triumph.
It’s sad, then, that the acting from the human characters leaves much to be desired. It’s difficult to care about the small humans’ story when there’s a giant monster rampaging around. It often feels like the film can’t keep its focus on more than one thing at a time. Whenever Godzilla is in focus, it’s difficult to remain interested in the human drama.
Thankfully, the scenes that do focus on Godzilla are spectacular and sure to captivate audiences.
While the film is not perfect, it could have been a lot worse. “Godzilla” is a reboot that knows how to pay homage to its legacy while preserving what made it great for new audiences. Those that have never been into the “Godzilla” films probably won’t be swayed here, but anyone who has been interested should check this new version out.