Matt Adcock’s film review: Good, but not great, Godzilla serves up monster thrills

“You’re hiding something out there! And it is going to send us back to the Stone Age! God help us all...”

Bryan Cranston in Godzilla.
Bryan Cranston in Godzilla.

When will we puny humans learn, eh?

Radioactive material (and weapons in particular) are always going to cause problems somewhere down the line. You’re playing around with the prospect of radiation pollution and sickness, total world-wide nuclear destruction or just a massive mutant monster or three, so what could go wrong?

This new version of Godzilla is big budget and machine tooled to be a huge crowd-pleasing blockbuster but also strives to be faithful to the original series of Godzilla films.

Bryan Cranston in Godzilla.

And for the first hour Brit director Gareth ‘Monsters’ Edwards delivers the prerequisite build up in fine style, right from the classy scene setting credits. If you’re a fan of monster films you’ll be immediately smiling at the clever fan boy service.

We get a great prologue where nuclear scientist Joe Brody (Bryan ‘Breaking Bad’ Cranston) faces an unexplainable disaster at a Japanese nuclear power plant where he works – at the same time losing a loved one, an emotional depth charge that ripples throughout the rest of the film.

Fast-forward 15 years and his son Ford (Aaron ‘Kick-Ass’ Taylor-Johnson) is serving in the US Navy, still troubled by the earlier events as well as his dad’s inability to stop digging behind official explanations.

Elizabeth Olsen is on hand as Ford’s wife but isn’t tasked with much more than looking good and getting into minor peril.

The stars here, though, are the creatures – yes, more than one – who dominate every second that they are on screen.

Godzilla himself is resplendent, surely the definitive look for the ‘Alpha Predator’ creature for some time to come.

When the monsters go at it in full city-wrecking mode it is just jaw dropping to witness and makes up for the slightly forgettable human storylines.

This Godzilla movie is a beast of two halves – slow burn build up, then heavy duty action. While the transition between the two is a bit clunky all you’ll go away thinking about will be the sight of a 350ft force of nature smashing all in its path.

Is this a classic? Not really, but it is a valiant and respectful re-imagining that would be a good starting point for a sequel. Personally I’d be up for a King Kong/Godzilla rematch!