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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Godzilla (3D) | Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
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Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for Lasvegasroundtheclock.com
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Godzilla  (3D) | Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins | Review

This updated reboot begins with a 1999 nuclear power plant accident in Janjira, Japan, which claims the life of regulations consultant Sandra Brody (Juliette Binoche) right in front of her helpless scientist husband Joe (Bryan Cranston).  He devotes the rest of his life attempting to uncover the truth about Janjira’s catastrophic destruction.  

Together with son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), Brody’s investigation reveals the imminent release of prehistoric creatures called MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms) on an unsuspecting, comparatively ant-sized human population.   These guys eat radiation and can seriously rock a Geiger counter.  They’re huge and mean. Only Godzilla, reptilian superhero, can save the day.

The radioactive ocean dweller plants his enormous feet in San Francisco, fighting two MUTOs that want to mate.  One looks like a black leathery bat and the other is an enormous, spider-like creature with a giant egg sac in its belly.  The destructive MUTOs embark on an air and land journey (one’s in Janjira, one’s in Yucca Mountain, Nevada) that will have them converge upon San Francisco to mate.  Just one MUTO is too many; hundreds would mean the end of humankind.

The required Japanese scientist (Ken Watanabe) who knows all of the Kaiju (monster) history, as well as the very earnest-looking female scientist (Sally Hawkins) who makes dire predictions are present to warn and advise the military about squelching the MUTOs:  Let Godzilla do it.  

Ford Brody just happens to be an explosive ordinance disposal technician (he defuses bombs) and spends most of the film trying to make his way back from Janjira to San Francisco where his ER nurse wife (Elizabeth Olsen) their young son seek shelter from the massive destruction caused by the monster meetup.

This new Godzilla (coaxed from the ocean depths by human experiments with radiation) is plumper than his predecessors and you won’t find a zipper in sight.  His eyes do not glow in the dark.  He does not have a happy, almost playful face, but totes a fixed scowl and dorsal spikes that an army of stegosaurs would envy.  

He’s a great swimmer, gliding swiftly just under the ocean’s surface.  He can still roar, spit fiery volleys of radioactive flame, and sneak up quietly on foes.  He’s noble, if a bit pissed off, but willing to kick some MUTA butt for mankind, proving once again how much better he is than the puny military’s ground troops or air squadrons.

The 3D effect here is negligible, neither hurting nor helping the clash of the giants.

Director Gareth Edwards (Monsters) uses sound and shadow effectively, rarely letting the image overtake the menacing implication, with lots of tail and wing action cloaked in darkness and silence.  The result is more effective than past versions of extended battles where the monsters are left to engage in near-slapstick antics in slow motion.  

One sequence between a female MUTA and two soldiers trapped on an elevated train trestle conveys the helplessness of trained armed men when they are faced with a foe so enormous that it renders them as effective as Popsicle sticks in size and weaponry.

Writers Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption) Dave Callaham (Doom) and first-timer Max Borenstein deliver some uninspired dialogue and human interaction that interfere with the ongoing monster mash, and detracts from the ferocious spectacle.  Buy your popcorn when people are onscreen and you won’t be bored; the cast is used primarily as pit stops between CGI volleys.

The 60-year-old Godzilla franchise, updated and rebooted, is back and better than expected, but not yet perfected.  It, like its titular hero, is not likely to expire anytime soon.  Talk about scales of justice.  Or large-scale action.  Or tipping the scales in mega-ton proportion.

I’ll shut up now.

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