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It's strange for a title character to only appear halfway through a film, but in Godzilla's case, this is actually a good thing. The movie trailer offered glimpses of what is by far the largest depiction of the monster, adding scale and harnessing the power of imagination in the process.

Godzilla director, Gareth Edwards, demonstrated his ability to create atmosphere and leverage the unknown with the low budget thriller, Monsters. He managed to create a real world under alien threat with believable characters on a shoestring budget. So just imagine the possibilities of a broader film on a blockbuster budget.

From his early Japanese origins, the giant lizard has come to represent nuclear holocaust, mirroring the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II. In the new Godzilla, the film-makers have decided to revise the old theme and crank Roland Emmerich's version up to a global scale with monster devastation taking place at several international locations.

The new Godzilla is pitted against other creatures whose size and diet threaten our existence. The film has been treated like a disaster movie with monsters substituting natural disasters. The human element frames the mayhem and gives us characters to add emotional depth and a sense of reality to the sci-fi happenings. This adds gravity and weight to the monster film, which tries to balance the human drama and monster CGI.

Unfortunately, the drama doesn't hold up. While Bryan Cranston sets the scene with great intensity and tenacity, he's succeeded by a rather vacuous performance from Aaron Taylor-Johnson. You get the impression that they wrote the character with The Day After Tomorrow and Jake Gyllenhaal in mind. While Taylor-Johnson was impressive in Kick-Ass, he's just not there in Godzilla. While you could argue he's numbed by war or constrained by a stock character script, his performance is inert and distances us.

The cast is bolstered by a strong line-up of actors including: Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, Juliette Binoche, David Strathairn and Elizabeth Olsen. However, most of these performances don't have the character depth or screen time to amount to much. Watanabe just seems lost for words, Binoche does much with little, Strathairn is short-lived, Olsen continues to show great promise and it's just interesting to see Hawkins in a serious role.

After slowly immersing us in the history and showing the impact of the devastation on humanity, the character development disintegrates along with the city centre. Godzilla is the main attraction, but without the character perspective it just becomes tiresome and dull. We've seen a slew of terrific city destruction sequences since Michael Bay unleashed Transformers and this is yet another.

Godzilla is in the same league as Jurassic Park when it comes to CGI and special effects. Gareth Edwards and his team have done the monster justice in terms of scale, representation, movement and design. The 3D and amazing sound effects power home all the details, creating a monstrous Godzilla that looks and feels alive. Unfortunately, the lack of dramatic tension diminishes the thrills and makes a spectacular yet all too safe doomsday encounter.

There's an attempt to relay the same intensity of emotion and aftermath disconnection as The Impossible. Edwards manages to wring several powerful human moments out of the script, yet there's little attachment to the characters, subduing the overall impact. Godzilla desperately needed a sense of humour to ground the film. After Bryan Cranston sets the pace, the charm and emotion slowly bleed out along with our connection.

Godzilla comes across like an uninspired prequel to Pacific Rim or a vanilla version of Neon Genesis Evangelion, without the mecha. Edwards has taken notes on the treatment of the creatures from Pacific Rim, zooming in on the monsters to establish size. While it entertains an end of times theme, there are no religious undertones and everything has a generic and anonymous feel.

Godzilla's CGI and sound effects are impressive, the production values are tremendous, the design has weight and the film has a sense of reality, atmosphere and scale. Unfortunately, while immense and spectacular, it lacks tension, emotional depth and a healthy level of charm. While it makes a promising start, our interest starts to wain after the monsters take centre stage and its flaws become just as devastating as its title star. To make matters worse, it ends on an offbeat and rather funny note.

The bottom line: Vacant

3.00/10 ( 2 Votes )
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