Monday, May 26, 2014

Monster king makeover

Giant monster character Godzilla gets a new Hollywood makeover courtesy of “Monsters” director Gareth Edwards, who gives a more human-focused tale amid the requisite scenes of urban destruction and colossal creature conflicts. As with the scifi-drama “Monsters,” the filmmaker interestingly tells the story of people affected by the presence of titanic, otherworldly behemoths.

Bryan Cranston and Aaron Taylor-Johnson play a father and son investigating the destruction surrounding a former power plant in Japan. Their family lived in and was forced to flee the country many years ago, unaware of the truth behind the ordeal. They discover, to their surprise, the existence of a giant, insectoid creature, which soon causes untold damage. Scintists eventually reveal that a natural enemy would soon arrive in the form of the “alpha predator” dubbed “Gojira.”

The “king of the monsters” tracks the insectoid MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism), which takes some time to happen. Almost an hour into the film, Godzilla appears onscreen, and it’s mostly family drama and buildup scenes prior to that. But when it does happen, the monster scuffle looks great, and aptly thunderous. The clashes are short, although much is given to scenes depicting property damage and beleaguered humans. Thankfully, it’s not a campy, hodge-podge squandering, a la the 1998 Hollywood version.

Drama-wise, sure, the actors are especially convincing, but we really don’t care that much, as the reunion scene is anticipated, and so typically presented. Still, it’s mostly a serious reinterpretation with a steady, gripping tone. While it isn’t exceptionally spectacular—it’s actually good, but not great—it’s not a bad way to reimagine the iconic monster character and the franchise.

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