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New ‘Godzilla’ a B-movie throwback

By Frank Ruggiero (frank@mountaintimes.com)



Article Published: May. 22 | Modified: May. 22
New ‘Godzilla’ a B-movie throwback

Godzilla visits the Golden Gate Bridge in 'Godzilla.'



So, remember that Blue Oyster Cult song, “Godzilla?”

That 1978 track still rocks, and it’s one of those infectious tunes that can make even the mildest of mannered hazard a headbang or two.

When the titular monster takes the screen in 2014’s “Godzilla,” it’s hard not to greet him with similar enthusiasm. This is Godzilla, after all, King of the Monsters, Scourge of Mothra, Harbinger of Out-of-Sync Audio Dubbing.

Indeed, this gargantuan friend and foe cannot be bested — except by a bloated run time and paint-by-numbers storytelling.

That being said, director Gareth Edwards’ (“Monsters”) take on the 1954 Japanese classic is probably the best American interpretation to date, filled to the brim with top-notch visual and audio effects, moody cinematography and an effectively eerie atmosphere.

At a two-hour-plus runtime and without a compelling protagonist, even those positives overstay their welcome. This is a B-movie, make no mistake, much better suited for a well-balanced 90 minutes.
At the center of it all is Army Lt. Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, “Kick-Ass”), who readily dismisses the alleged ramblings of his stepfather, nuclear scientist Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston, TV’s “Breaking Bad”). Dr. Brody insists the world’s governments are covering up the truth behind a series mysterious earthquakes, some of which have resulted in the destruction of nuclear power plants the world over.

Lt. Brody only believes him after scientist Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe, “Inception”) and his research team unwittingly awaken a long-dormant monster that quickly goes into full rampage mode. In the process, however, the beast —dubbed a MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) — also awakens something far more intimidating: Godzilla.

Described as a prehistoric beast that thrives on the Earth’s natural radiation, Godzilla, Serizawa explains, is nature’s answer to mankind’s folly —namely unapologetically meddling with the forces of nature. Only Godzilla can stop the MUTO, which, as we find out, may not be alone.

While Serizawa insists on letting Godzilla sort it all out, the U.S. Armed Forces sees it differently. As does Lt. Brody, who risks life and limb to rescue his wife (Elizabeth Olsen, “Martha Marcy May Marlene”) and son (newcomer Carson Bolde) from San Francisco, which lays right in the monsters’ paths.

Needless to say, dialogue and character development aren’t the hallmarks of a classic B-movie. But when you have a dramatic powerhouse like Cranston, whose role isn’t nearly as significant as the trailers suggest, the bar is set at a height our protagonists just can’t reach — except for Watanabe, in one of the film’s many winks to its predecessors, and our titular creature by default.

With Godzilla, director Edwards tackles a difficult feat in making viewers actually empathize with the beast, who, despite zero dialogue and all that carnage and municipal demolition and what not, comes across as a pretty decent guy. And for those Japanese viewers who’ve called him fat? Come on. He’s just big boned.

“Godzilla,” rated PG-13 for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence, is playing at Boone Regal Cinema 7 in both 2-D and 3-D, the latter of which is surprisingly unimpressive, especially considering the old-school allure of a 3-D monster flick. For show times, visit http://www.mountaintimes.com/movies.


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