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GODZILLA (2014)

SYNOPSIS:
A colossal ancient creature is accidentally awakened by mankind and seemingly leaves nothing but destruction in its wake.

Review by Louise Keller:
It takes a while to get going but when it does, Gareth Edwards' Godzilla fulfils expectations with a gigantic roar: spectacular visual effects, an enveloping dark production design and an outstanding score by Alexandre Desplat that screams its terror throughout. I have two gripes - the obtuse storyline is hard to follow and there is an impenetrable earnestness and lack of humour, which imparts a heaviness that could have been avoided. Whatever happened to the good old B-movie? Edwards teases out his narrative and makes us wait for the heroic Godzilla to fight the climactic fight with his monstrous foe in the throes of a devastated chaotic world with shattered skyscrapers and trampled cities.

After the intriguing opening credits in which the nuclear origin of the story is stated, the key characters that form the backbone of the story are introduced together with unexplained frequency patterns, tremors and a family tragedy. Bryan Cranston and Juliette Binoche make an interesting match as scientists working in the Japanese nuclear power plant. By the time the story picks up 15 years later, their son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is a military bomb disarmament officer living in San Francisco with his wife (Elizabeth Olsen) and young son. Olsen has a lovely presence with her big eyes and sympathetic personality, adding a touch of softness in what is otherwise a male-dominated film.

Taylor-Johnson is fine in effectively the leading role, but there is a cardboard-quality about him that never allows us to connect. I found it difficult to keep abreast of all the plot elements concerning the government cover up, the electro magnetic pulse and theory about the god of a monster that consumes radiation. It therefore comes as a relief and distraction when we eventually get a glimpse of the destructive, gigantic insect-esque M.U.T.O.s (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Objects), about 35 minutes into the film.

The tsunami scene when Honolulu is devastated is effective and terror in Las Vegas, prompts the one chuckle, when we hear a recording of Elvis singing Devil in Disguise as Nevada is crumbling. But it is in the final act when the film comes into its own as the fire-breathing Godzilla and the M.U.T.O. meet in a formidable encounter. This is creatively shot with windscreen wipers, chinese lanterns and all manners of foreground distractions and shadows. Meanwhile Desplat's rousing score finds its mark as it scurries and thrills with an onslaught of percussion and strings, keeping the tension high and audience off balance.

With its mega budget, it's a far cry from the original 1954 Japanese film and certainly a leap above Roland Emmerich's 1998 Hollywood version.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

GODZILLA (2014) (M)
(US/Japan, 2014)

CAST: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Sally Hawkins, Juliette Binoche, Ken Watanabe, David Strathairn,

PRODUCER: Jon Jashni, Mary Parent, Brian Rogers, Thomas Tull

DIRECTOR: Gareth Edwards

SCRIPT: Max Borenstein

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Seamus McGarvey

EDITOR: Bob Ducsay

MUSIC: Alexandre Desplat

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Owen Paterson

RUNNING TIME: minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 15, 2014







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