Godzilla 2014 ***


After his superb debut with Monsters, it’s easy to see why Gareth Edwards would be handed the chance to make a big budget version of Godzilla. Unfortunately, the tricks that worked so well for him in Monsters don’t play out so well here; the shots of debris-strewn vistas, intercutting news broadcasts and quarantine zones are all replicated, but to much less potent effect. The main problem is that the various trailers raise expectations of a rather different movie than Edwards delivers; the emphasis on Bryan Cranston’s Joe Brody character proves misplaced, since the lead turns out to be a bland Aaron Taylor-Johnson who has little personality other than his wish to rescue children, and Elizabeth Olsen and Juliette Binoche barely feature. Johnson plays Ford Brody, a bomb-disposal expert who proves his worth when a conflict between radio-active monsters prompts a nuclear response from authorities. The result feels like a bait-and-switch on a monstrous scale; the trappings aside, the 2014 Godzilla features most of the qualities that make the original films barely watchable, from the instant recognition by all parties that Godzilla is a well-meaning guardian of nature to the monster-tag-team wrestling match that proves that millions of dollars of CGI can look no better than men in rubber suits. With much of the techo-babble unwisely handed to Ken Wantanabe and Sally Hawkins, Edwards’ version of Godzilla is low on fresh ideas or personality; a pity because the opening scenes, including a neat credits sequence, promised so much more than just another hokey monster movie.


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