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Phuket Film Review: Godzilla

It's easy to dismiss Godzilla as just another summer monster flick best left for teenagers with nothing to do on a weekend (or film editors in search of an easy review), but considering that the original Godzilla made in 1954 was an allegory for the horrors of nuclear holocaust – ravaging the very country that experienced the real thing just nine years earlier – it's a story worth re-telling.

By Jean-Pierre Mestanza

Thursday 29 May 2014, 09:51AM

Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson

Director: Gareth Edwards

Running time: 123 minutes


This is especially true during an era when technology is developing at an exponential rate. The last Godzilla film was made in 2004 (we didn't even have iPhones then!) so the time was ripe for not only a remake, but a re-imagining of how we perceive this ancient monster.

The film starts in 1999 in the Philippines, when Dr Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Dr Vivenne Graham (Sally Hawkins) are taken into a collapsed mine to investigate the cause. We then visit Japan, where nuclear physicist Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) and his co-worker/wife Sandra Brody head into work at a nearby nuclear power plant to investigate seismic activity in the area (sounds safe, no?).

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After the events in this brief set-up, the film explodes with a bang in the present with Joe joined by his now grown-up son, Lt Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), who has a wife (Elizabeth Olsen) and son of his own.

At this point, once the action starts, there's no end, and that could be what turns audiences off. A break in the destruction is needed at times since we are given so much information to process – confusion sets in during several moments.

Because of this, it seems that all the main characters have but two facial expressions: confused and bewildered. The lone exception is Olsen's character, at least until she becomes privy to the destruction.

Still, British director Gareth Edwards did a great job of hitting several plot points in the appropriate amount of time. The film has elements of a family drama and a survival story with dashes of moral conflict, all of which were part of the 1954 film. (An interesting note, Dr Ishiro Serizawa was inspired by Dr Daisuke Serizawa, who was the protagonist in the original).

The story is also careful not to portray the military as antagonist war hawks who are itching to use nuclear weapons against the creature, even though that seems to be their only solution. What they – and the audience – don't know is that the nature of Godzilla, and why he exists, is not what it seems.

All in all it's a refreshing take on an old tale with more than enough explosions to keep you paying attention throughout. Godzilla successfully treads a fine line between storytelling and monster mash.



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