The King Will Rise
Director – Gareth Edwards
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe
Released: May 8th 2014
When the Janjira nuclear power plant is destroyed in mysterious circumstances Joe Brody (Cranston) along with his son Ford (Taylor-Johnson) set about sneaking back into the exclusion zone and finding out just what happened only to end up in a destructive battle that spans the world between a couple of Muto and the King of the Monsters Godzilla.
I have always loved Godzilla, a giant monster smashing his way around cities and fighting other monsters, what’s not to love, I even enjoyed the 1998 film by Roland Emmerich when it came out, though I was 10 and these days see it as the dumpster fire everyone else believes it to be, so with the release Godzilla: King of the Monsters I figured it was about time I returned to take a look at the film that along with Kong: Skull Island has helped launch the so-called MonsterVerse, hoping that unlike in his previous outing the film still holds up to this day.
Gone is the iguana exposed to nuclear testing, gone is stupid jokes about Greek surnames and no longer do we have to put up with bad acting played for laughs, the excellent Bryan Cranston alone managed to inject more emotion into the first ten minutes of this film than its predecessor could muster during its entire runtime. this time Godzilla is played much more straight-faced and I believe it works better because of it.
This might sound odd as it’s a film about giant monsters and there are scenes that are a little hammy, but overall having the film focus more on the human aspects helps you place yourself in the actor’s shoes and makes the movie feel slightly more realistic.
Another of the aspects that make the film enjoyable still is the beautiful visuals that run throughout Gareth Edwards eye, for what looks good on screen is self-evident and there are shots and set pieces that still take my breath away. If you’re a movie geek like me, then you will get enjoyment from the cinematography no matter what you think of the movie as a whole.
But emotion and beautiful shots and a great final act don’t always produce a good movie and the majority of the people paying to see the film want to see Godzilla destroy some stuff and fight other monsters, sadly this is where the film has some issues, now I know that in the original Japanese films he doesn’t tend to turn up till the end, but in this case, there were a couple of occasions when the audience is teased with a something enjoyable to watch but then the film cuts away and returns after the action sequences finished, which was more than a little frustrating.
On top of this, Aaron Taylor-Johnson character who you follow for the bulk of the film is played so blandly and straight-faced that you never really warm to him in the same way you do Bryan Cranston’s or Elizabeth Olsen’s, I fully understand that he is playing a solder but he could have given a little more in terms of emotion to make his character a little more accessible.
The sum up Godzilla more than holds up today as it did back in 2014, it’s not perfect and has some issues around what you get to see and what you don’t, but it is infinitely better than the 1998 movie and gives me enough hope that the follow up will learn the lessons of the past and combine all the good points I have covered with more fight scenes and better direction for the lead.