Godzilla has been done before with Matthew Broderick in the 1998 version and in countless Japanese films. What makes this one different? You’re about to find out in my review of 2014’s Godzilla.
The film starts off with a montage of illustrations found in science books and footage of what deep sea creatures they found while exploring the depths of the ocean. Information on screen is shown as redacted while the actors’ names are clearly seen. They then show all of the cover-up operations and grainy footage of Godzilla itself. The Philippines in 1999 is shown as a helicopter lands at a mining site. Dr. Ishiro Serizawa, played by Ken Watanabe, meets with a contact. They have radiation suits on and they’re inside exploring the caves. They find a large skeleton laid out as a woman asks “Is it him?” She is referring to Godzilla, but Ishiro disagrees. They find two cocoons, one is broken and one remains dormant. Ishiro looks at the trail as it leads outside to a trail.
The movie then moves to Janjira, Japan and a small house near a nuclear power plant. Bryan Cranston’s Joe Brody is on the phone with the power plant while his young son, Ford is listening. Further along in the film, Ford is played by Aaron Taylor Johnson. Joe’s wife, Sandra turns up and helps her son leave without being spotted by Joe. He is still on the phone, he’s talking about a pattern he’s found in seismic activity from the Philippines. Ford gets on the school bus as Joe and Sandra go to work at the power plant. Sandra reminds Joe that it’s his birthday and they leave for the plant. Sandra has a team with her as she goes to see where the problem is. There’s been an explosion down below and Sandra and her team try to escape the fumes. Joe’s trying to communicate with her as she tries to escape and he’s at the door to get them out of there. He tries to save them, but seals the doors. He sees Sandra on the other side giving him her last few words, possibly the worst way to spend your birthday. Working in a nuclear plant watching your partner perish through glass. Everyone is evacuated as young Ford watches from a classroom window, the entire power plant turns to rubble.
It switches again to 15 years later with Ford in the army. He goes home to his wife, Elle played by Elizabeth Olsen and his son, Sam. For those of you watching this after Avengers: Age of Ultron, yes it’s really weird watching two actors who played brother and sister in Avengers playing a married couple in Godzilla. I did cringe when I saw them and think “that’s your sister!” It felt like a reverse Skywalker kiss, you know the one, when they kissed. Ford finds out Joe has been arrested in Japan so Ford goes to see him. Joe’s talking about how the same patterns that occurred on the day his wife died are happening again. He’s been studying bio acoustics and echolocation. He was arrested for going back to his old home, which is now under quarantine. They put on the radiation suits and go to the quarantined zone, it looks like a post-apocalyptic city with grassy patches here and there. They see dogs barking and running past as Joe takes off his gas mask. There is no radiation as they step into their old home.
Joe finds the data he was looking for and an old picture of him with Sandra and Ford. Outside they see a helicopter and are arrested and taken to the old nuclear plant. Joe looks out to see the dormant cocoon as Ishiro is informed that two men were arrested. They are being interrogated as the power briefly cuts out. The dormant cocoon is sending out electromagnetic pulses, which means it isn’t dormant anymore and has been feeding off whatever radiation is left. Ishiro orders a shutdown and sends an electrical surge through the cocoon, but it hatches instead. It’s definitely not Godzilla, but more of a Mothra type creature. Ford gets to safety but watches his father fall. Ford puts on a gas mask and watches the huge monster just fly off into the sky.
The next day, Ishiro is looking at the devastation as a sergeant approaches him to tell him of the current situation. Ford helps Joe onto a stretcher with paramedics on the scene as Ishiro tells the sergeant that Ford is part of his team. In the chopper, Ford is by his father’s side as Joe passes away. At the new base, the guy in charge is Admiral Stenz explains that the Mothra type creature is known as a MUTO, Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism. Ford is taken to a room with others as Ishiro explains the situation. Footage from the 50’s is shown of Godzilla and they reveal that there is a secret organization that keeps him out of sight, Project Monarch. They call him Gojira. The MUTOs feed off whatever radiation they can find. Ishiro believes that the other two MUTOs have upset the balance and now Godzilla has the power to restore that balance. I saw this scene as a build up to a big “Yes, monster fight between MUTOs and Godzilla” scene.
Ford goes to Honolulu, hoping to get a flight home from there. Ishiro uses echolocation to see if Godzilla has responded. He sees a shift in the pattern on a computer screen, which means the monster fight is definitely going to happen. Ford is on a train and he winds up looing after a child that is separated from his parents. Back at base, a team is sent out into the forest and they see a Russian sub with a MUTO eating a radioactive canister. Ishiro hears about another signal being picked up. It’s our hero monster, Godzilla. The team dealing with the MUTO are stopped by the MUTO’s electromagnetic pulse, which knocks out their power. The train’s power is also cut and it stops on the tracks. A special ops team sets up their flare guns on the taller buildings in Honolulu as people on the beach see a large wave coming in. They get to safety and Ishiro is on a large ship. He sees Godzilla swimming towards him, but Godzilla swims deeper so he doesn’t hurt anyone on the ship, such a polite, kind creature, but he is huge.
Flare guns shot into the sky as people see Godzilla walk through the flares. The special ops team shoots at Godzilla, which doesn’t hurt him, but moves him away from where the people are. The power comes back on, but now the train is heading towards the MUTO. The train is ripped open and a few people do perish. Ford saves the kid he was looking after. Everyone at the airport is frightened by the MUTO, but Godzilla’s paw/foot can be seen walking past them. The camera pans up to show Godzilla looking angrily at the MUTO and it lets out a loud roar, which means balance will be restored through a monster fight.
The next day, Honolulu is in ruins, but the kid Ford was looking after is reunited with his parents. The MUTO is heading towards San Francisco with Godzilla on the hunt. Ishiro is at the base and he figures out that the MUTO is calling another MUTO. Yes, Godzilla must stop the two MUTOs from mating and making everything exponentially worse. Ishiro and the Admiral talk and the dialogue is cheesy, but he has a point. Godzilla is here to restore balance. The human characters don’t do much, it’s all about our hero monster, Godzilla, helping the humans hence the title. The military, along with Ford, has their own plan to hurt the MUTOs, but that plan fails, Godzilla is the hero monster that can deal with the MUTOs. It’s not Oscar worthy acting, but it moves the story along. The fight between the two MUTOs and Godzilla though is epic. Just when you think it’s done, when you think the monster is finished, it gets up and displays raw power that looks incredible. I really wasn’t expecting that outcome, like, at all. I thought it would end as a draw, but it doesn’t. Godzilla doesn’t go easy on the MUTOs, it really goes full alpha predator on them. The action isn’t constant like you would see in a Michael Bay film nor is it too subtle like Ang Lee’s Hulk, it’s a mix of the two. In this version rather than picturing Godzilla as a villain, like in the 1998 version, this makes him the hero of the story.
If I haven’t yet convinced you to see this film, watch it for the monster fight. The monster fight is in no way anticlimactic, it really delivers. The MUTOs have the electromagnetic pulse power, but Godzilla’s special skills cement him as king of the monsters. I hope you enjoyed reading my review of Godzilla, a movie I still watch from time to time just for the epic monster showdown and the subtle things Godzilla does to actually save the people like in the rainy bridge scene.
If you want to discuss this film further, you can find me on Twitter with the handle @immiebroods and if you haven’t seen it? Go watch it.