Early on into Godzilla Gareth Edwards’ reputation as King of the Kaiju starts to unravel.
It’s a status he’s keenly resisted, born out of the subject matter of his lo-fi debut Monsters and this, his major studio reboot, but 2014’s Godzilla has nothing to do with arguments about the respective merits of Showa era Toho versus Heisei era, and everything to do with his childhood VHS collection.
An obvious cinephile, Gareth Edwards has shot Godzilla like a classic disaster film – it’s (admittedly fairly thin) characters mere fixed points through which we observe crumbling buildings, tidal waves and bystanders flailing.
The reveal of the creatures though is pure Spielberg, cribbing evenly from 1975’s Jaws and 1993’s Jurassic Park as vast monstrosities are slowly and deftly teased by cameras panning up and out through smoke and jungle, reflections in the plastic face-plates of biohazard suits and snatched glimpses by flare-light.
The high billing of Breaking Bad powerhouse Bryan Cranston as nuclear engineer Joe Brody leaves a fairly bitter taste given his lack of screentime, and his square-jawed good guy son Ford (Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Kick-Ass’ Aaron Taylor-Johnson) fares far better than generic working mom daughter-in-law Elle (Age Of Ultron’s Elizabeth Olsen, but to expect anything more by way of an arc is to remain somehow ignorant of who the main character is. The clue is in the film’s title.
Primal and heroic – there’s even something faintly adorbs about his little pot-belly and chunky feet – Godzilla himself is perfectly sculpted to pay fidelity to the classic look, complete with a roar that will stir the hearts of early to mid-Nineties insomniacs tuned into Channel 4 everywhere.
It’s obviously a very different movie from Guillermo del Toro’s toybox-emptying Pacific Rim, but when the Big G starts wailing on his insectile adversaries you’ll be air-punching with each kaiju grapple and grinning like a loon at the gnarly spectacle of his atomic breath.
Edwards too gets a tad carried away with the excitement of it all and it’s only the final scene of Godzilla waddling off into the sea while newscasters cheer the “King of the Monsters” that punctures the debris-choked atmosphere of terror and uncertainty.
You half expect someone to put a medal on him, it’s literally that daft.
Godzilla will be available to download from 13 October – two weeks before stomping onto Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD.