Film of the week reviewed: Godzilla
PUBLISHED: 11:06 16 May 2014
Ã‚Â© 2014 Legendary Pictures Funding, LLC and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
In Steven Spielberg’s box-office behemoth Jurassic Park, geneticists arrogantly believe they can tame Mother Nature with cutting-edge science.
“Life finds a way,” warns Jeff Goldblum’s fatalistic chaos mathematician.
These wise words and Spielberg’s entire 1993 blockbuster provide the guiding light for Gareth Edwards’s bombastic resurrection of cinema’s iconic reptile.
The Warwickshire-born director, who scored a big hit with his low-budget debut Monsters, harks back to Ishiro Honda’s groundbreaking 1954 film Gojira, which reflected Japanese society’s fears in the aftermath of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In Edwards’s film, the titular 355ft creature boasts familiar dorsal fins, lumbering gait and fiery radioactive breath, and is securely tethered to timely concerns about the environmental consequences of nuclear power.
A mine in the Philippine jungle collapses, exposing the remains of two seemingly fossilised and highly radioactive creatures.
One of the monsters hatches and runs amok, and despite the best efforts of Dr Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and his colleague Dr Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins), its mate also escapes confinement.
US Navy Admiral William Stenz (David Strathairn) co-ordinates the response and sends his men into battle including Lieutenant Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), whose parents (Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche) worked at the Janjira nuclear plant, where one creature began its rampage.
Meanwhile in San Francisco, Ford’s wife Elle (Elizabeth Olsen) prepares to evacuate with their four-year-old son Sam (Carson Bolde).
The result is a technically accomplished hunk of large-scale monster-mashing. You can see every cent of the rumoured $160 million budget and the director makes good use of the 3D format by reflecting carnage in mirrors and glass.
The director even manages to convey the titular reptile’s feelings in the midst of battle. Human emotions are much harder to unearth however.
Taylor-Johnson is a bland all-American hero and heavyweights Cranston and Binoche don’t have sufficient screen time to deliver the wallop we crave.
*** (3 Stars)
For reviews of this week’s other releases, including The Two Faces Of January, In Secret and Concussion, as well as the latest local listings, see the Event supplement in this week’s EDP and Evening News.