Every year, there has to be a blockbuster that leaves people divided in their opinions, and this year that honour seems to have gone to Gareth Edwards’ reimagining of ‘Godzilla’. While some found it an arresting and visually spectacular triumph, others found it needlessly loud and bombastic and complained about the fact that, in a two-hour film, the titular creature appears for less than ten minutes. When I reviewed the film earlier in the year I fell very much in the former camp, and rewatching it for its Blu-Ray release hasn’t changed my opinion one bit. While it’s easy to see why some have found the film lacking, there is simply far too much to praise and to celebrate about the return of the legendary monster to the big screen.
Beginning as a father-and-son drama between scientist Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) and his military son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), the human characters become pawns in a titanic battle between ancient foes, two nuclear-hungry MUTOs and their predator Godzilla. Director Gareth Edwards, placing himself amongst the most dynamic and exciting directors working today in one fell swoop, denies us access to the great beast until the last second, with a thunderous finale between the three combatants. Much criticism has been levelled at the film for lacking in human drama, but the first act of the film makes this its sole interest, and while it takes a back seat when the monsters' fight is one of its few flaws, the film deserves credit for even giving it a try in the first act. It also helps that the cast is one of the best assembled for a blockbuster: Cranston and Taylor-Johnson supported by Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, Ken Watanabe, David Strathairn and Sally Hawkins. They all lend tremendous gravitas but always with a twinkle in their eye. It’s rare to see any of these names attached to a blockbuster, and they’re clearly loving every moment of it.
From a technical perspective, ‘Godzilla’ is the best blockbuster of the year, and one of the finest ever made, recalling the glory days of Stephen Spielberg. ‘Godzilla’ is visually spectacular, shot with unexpected artistry by Seamus McGarvey and framed with beautiful attention to detail. Each major action sequence is paced to perfection, and supported by a rousing score by Alexandre Desplat. This is only Gareth Edwards’ second film, but the skill and daring he demonstrates sweep away the cobwebs of the Hollywood blockbuster and crafts moments of genuine awe. It’s also an absolute blast, a roller-coaster that takes its time kicking into gear, but when it does it doesn’t stop to breathe. On top of being the most accomplished blockbuster of the year, it’s also easily the most fun.
Thankfully ‘Godzilla’ was successful enough for Warner Bros to ask for a sequel. Even better, Edwards and his team are still in charge and it's a good three years away, meaning the same care and attention that went into this film will likely go into a second. In the meantime, we have this marvel of a film to enjoy and remind us just how much fun going to a big booming blockbuster can be.
On top of being the most accomplished blockbuster of the year, it’s also easily the most fun.
PICTURE & SOUND
Visually, ‘Godzilla’ is an unexpectedly dark film, making it a tricky balance to get right in high definition. Thankfully, Warner Bros have given it a tremendous 1080p 2.35:1 transfer, with beautiful clarity and detail. Colours and shadows have been carefully balanced so that detail isn’t lost while also acknowledging the intentions of the filmmakers. Supporting it is a thunderous DTS-HD MA 7.1 track that beautifully recreates the intricate and emotive sound design. ‘Godzilla’ is one of those films you would expect to shine on Blu-ray, and in this instance, the results do not disappoint at all.
While they were once the most reliable studio in terms of bonus content, Warner Bros has fallen slack a bit the past year or so, and unfortunately ‘Godzilla’ is another casualty of that. That’s not to say what we have isn’t good, there just isn’t much of it. From the cripplingly dull menu, you have two categories. One is a series of featurettes from MONARCH, the organisation in the film studying Godzilla. They give some nice context for the film, but doesn’t count as deleted material as such. ‘The Legendary Godzilla’ is another set of featurettes that look at the making of the film from its inception to execution, an unsatisfying look at the legacy of Godzilla and a look at the iconic H.A.L.O. jump sequence. It’s all good stuff, but doesn’t even clock in at an hour. The most glaring and baffling omission are the remarkable trailers that built up anticipation for the film to a frenzy. As annoying as it would be, here’s hope there’s a special edition on the horizon.