Godzilla vs Kong review

For F*** Magazine

Director: Adam Wingard
Cast : Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Eiza González, Kyle Chandler, Julian Dennison, Demián Bichir, Kaylee Hottle
Genre: Action/Adventure/Sci-fi
Run Time : 113 min
Opens : 24 March 2021
Rating : PG13

In 1962, two of cinema’s defining monsters faced off in King Kong vs Godzilla. 59 years later, it’s time for a rematch, in the form of the fourth film in the Monsterverse.

Kong is living on Skull Island, where he has formed a bond with young orphan Jia (Kaylee Hottle), who communicates with Kong via sign language. Jia’s adoptive mother is researcher Dr Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall), who has been monitoring Kong for years. Geologist Dr Nathan Lind (Alexander Skarsgård) discovers a way to access the hollow earth, the speculated origin of Kong, Godzilla and the other Titans. As part of an expedition funded by Walter Simmons (Demián Bichir), the CEO of tech company Apex Cybernetics, Ilene, Nathan, Jia and Walter’s daughter Maia (Eiza González) accompany Kong to the access point of the hollow earth. Kong’s presence attracts Godzilla, who has suddenly turned aggressive towards humans despite having been thought of as a defender. In the meantime, Madison (Millie Bobby Brown), daughter of Monarch director Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler), alongside her friend Josh (Julian Dennison) and Apex technician Bernie (Bryan Tyree Henry), embarks on a mission to unearth a conspiracy at the corporation.  

Godzilla vs Kong is delightfully bonkers, leaning fully into the ridiculousness of its premise, and dropping all pretence of being grounded or realistic. It’s an entertaining ride made by people who clearly love the Kaiju genre, and want to deliver an exciting, spectacle-heavy, example of that genre. Director Adam Wingard and cinematographer Ben Seresin make this a colourful, visually exciting movie, especially after the immediate predecessor, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, was criticised for looking visually muddy. In some ways, this movie harks back to the Heisei Era of Godzilla movies, nicknamed the “Vs series”. It also harks back to goofy 50s-60s Hollywood sci-fi adventure movies, like Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1959). Characters fly around in nifty little crafts called Hollow Earth Aerial Vehicles, and one can imagine a great motion simulator theme park ride centred on those. There’s more than a little Pacific Rim influence here too, especially in the Hong Kong battle.

Leaning more heavily into sci-fi than the previous films in this continuity, Godzilla vs Kong contains a literal journey to the centre of the earth and is an ode to absurdly impractical infrastructure projects. It’s only fitting given the sheer size of its two stars. The character animation on both Kong and Godzilla is excellent; the physicality and expressiveness of both monsters conveyed well. Kong, having become more grizzled in the 50 years since the events of Kong: Skull Island, has plenty of personality, and is easy to relate to when he just stands around and sighs, or gets tired after a fight and must lie down. The fight scenes between them are grand and well-choreographed, and if it’s big-budget monster fights you’re after, this movie has you covered.

If Godzilla (2014) was too self-serious, then Godzilla vs Kong is sometimes too silly for its own good. Many moments strain credulity, and there is a level of “just go with it”-ness that Wingard sometimes struggles to sustain. There are several huge leaps of faith that are demanded of the audience, and one’s willingness to take those leaps will vary. While there are some surprises, the plot is predictable, and many fans have already called the outcome of the battle between Godzilla and Kong, which some might feel is at least a bit of a cop out. As satisfying as the spectacle is, the story can’t quite support it – and this is going by monster movie standards.

Every Kaiju movie fan’s favourite pastime is complaining about the human characters, who are meant to be our way into the story, but more often than not get in the way of the monsters punching each other. There are two main human plots here: all the stuff with Skarsgård’s geologist, Hall’s Kong behaviourist and Hottle’s endearing magical girl who can talk to Kong generally works. Jia is a deaf character portrayed by a deaf actress, which is something that needs to happen more often.

The other human plot, with Brown’s Emma returning from the previous movie and joined by Dennison as Emma’s friend and Henry as a hyperactive conspiracy theorist podcast host, generally doesn’t. The normally excellent Henry is grating here, directed to play an over-the-top comic relief character and given a succession of unfunny lines. Most of the film’s least convincing moments involve these characters, and each time the movie cut back to them, groans from the audience were audible.

Caught in between are Demián Bichir and Eiza González as a father-daughter team who possibly have ulterior motives. They put in unsubtle but enjoyable turns.

The Monsterverse has given us interpretations of major Kaiju from the Godzilla mythos, and by now, audiences expect that at least one other monster will show up in a Godzilla movie. Kong does that here, but does anyone else make an appearance? Some of the marketing has spoiled a surprise or two, and while this movie doesn’t lack for spectacle, this reviewer found himself missing the well-defined, iconic creatures whom Kong fought or teamed up with in King of the Monsters.

Summary: Godzilla vs Kong delivers wham-bam monster fights on a grand scale, and is often silly in an earnest, charming way. It is occasionally too silly and, as expected, several human characters are nigh-unbearable, but it’s an all-around good time. See it on the biggest screen possible.

RATING: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Jedd Jong

The Void

For F*** Magazine

THE VOID

Director : Jeremy Gillespie, Steven Kostanski
Cast : Aaron Poole, Ellen Wong, Kathleen Munroe, Kenneth Welsh, Grace Munro
Genre : Horror
Run Time : 1h 31min
Opens : 13 April 2017
Rating : M18 (Violence and Gore)

Unspeakable terrors lie beyond this plane of existence in this horror flick. Police officer Daniel Carter (Poole) discovers a bloodied man named James (Evan Stern) crawling down a deserted road, and rushes the man to the nearest hospital. As it’s late at night, the hospital has a minimal staff, including Dr. Richard Powell (Welsh), aloof medical student Kim (Wong) and staff nurse Allison (Munroe), who happens to be Daniel’s estranged wife. In the waiting room is a pregnant teenage girl named Maggie (Munro) and her grandfather Ben (James Millington). Eerie figures in white robes and hoods, the front of their hoods emblazoned with a solid black triangle, surround the hospital. The staff and patients start exhibiting erratic, violent behaviour, and as Daniel uncovers the truth behind the spooky goings-on at the hospitals, he is forced to confront horror on an unfathomable scale.

The Void comes from Canadian filmmaking collective Astron-6. The group has popped up on the radar of genre aficionados thanks to their various low-budget horror-comedy short films. They were also behind the deliberately schlocky Manborg, a 2011 film that it appears the better-known Kung Fury owes quite the debt to. With The Void, Astron-6 attempts a graver, more serious brand of horror, while still paying homage to the filmmakers and storytellers they idolise. Writer-directors Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski were also involved in various other aspects of the film, from composing to editing to creature effects. When not making their own films, Gillespie has worked in the art departments of films including Pacific Rim and Suicide Squad, while Kostanski has been a special effects makeup artist on Crimson Peak, Suicide Squad and the Hannibal TV series.

While The Void boasts a respectable amount of truly disgusting gore and inventive, cleverly-executed practical creature effects and prosthetic work, it is an unpolished product that’s very rough around the edges. Perhaps this is a part of its charm, but even with the filmmakers’ dedication fully evident, this gives off a bit of an amateur vibe. The overarching concept is ambitious, recalling the Eldritch abominations of H.P. Lovecraft and John Carpenter-directed horror films like The Thing, as well as countless ‘video nasty’ horror films from the 80s and 90s. In the Mouth of Madness, a Carpenter-directed adaptation of a Lovecraft story, seems like it had a strong influence on Gillespie and Kostanski, as did Carpenter’s action suspense flick Assault on Precinct 13.

While the actors are not the main draw and the film’s limited budget means a lack of access to stars, nobody in the cast is terrible. Poole has enough of a leading man quality without coming off like an invincible action hero, while Munroe has a warmth to her that’s comforting until the horror kicks into high gear. Wong, a.k.a. Knives Chau from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, puts in a fun performance as the bored millennial flung into utter chaos. Canadian character actor Welsh from Twin Peaks is on hand to lend genre cred, though the film has plenty of that on its own. The characters aren’t flat-out unlikeable, but they aren’t endearing enough to want to actively be around either.

Gillespie and Kostanski know exactly who their audience is, and this will find a cult following at horror film festivals and when it eventually gets on Netflix. For the uninitiated, however, The Void is disorienting and incoherent. There’s an effort to explore the psychology of the characters in addition to serving up a surfeit of stomach-turning body horror, but it’s too restless and frenetic for its own good. We know that “elegant” and “slimy tentacle monsters bursting out of abdomens” don’t necessarily go together, but The Void could have benefitted from a more elegant approach, letting the mythos build organically instead of unleashing it on the audience at one go.

Summary: Audiences who, like this film’s directors, grew up on 80s horror flicks they were too young to watch, will lap this up. However, the ideas at play are almost as messy as the assorted gore.

RATING: 3 out of 5 Stars

Jedd Jong

Shin Godzilla (シン・ゴジラ)

For F*** Magazine

SHIN GODZILLA (シン・ゴジラ)

Director : Hideaki Anno, Shinji Higuichi
Cast : Hiroki Hasegawa, Satomi Ishihara, Yuteka Takenouchi, Mansai Nomura
Genre : Action/Adventure
Run Time : 120 mins
Opens : 25 August 2016
Rating : PG (Some Violence)

Shin Godzilla posterThe king of monsters is coming home to roost in this reboot of the Godzilla franchise. The Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line floods and collapses, as cell phone video footage of a colossal unidentified organism rising from the ocean goes viral. The Japanese cabinet calls an emergency meeting, and the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Rando Yaguchi (Hasegawa) is put in charge of handling the unknown threat. As the government evaluates their options, Kayoko Ann Patterson (Ishihara), the Special Envoy for the President of the United States and the daughter of a U.S. senator, enters the fray. Kayoko reveals that a disgraced zoology professor named Goro Maki had been studying the creature in secret, naming it “Godzilla”. As Japan is engulfed the chaos the monster leaves in its wake, Yaguchi and his team have to devise a way to neutralize Godzilla, and time is not on their side.

Shin Godzilla Godzilla 1

It’s perfectly understandable that purists aren’t fans of Hollywood’s Godzilla movies, not even the decently-received 2014 film. The title ‘Shin Godzilla’ roughly translates to ‘true Godzilla’, as in “those other versions are false”. It’s the first Japanese Godzilla movie since 2004’s Godzilla: Final Wars. With this film, Japanese studio Toho is starting from scratch, depicting the first emergence of the iconic kaiju in modern day Japan. Shin Godzilla is jointly helmed by Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuichi. Anno, who also wrote the screenplay, is famed for creating the anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion, while Higuichi is one of Japan’s most prolific special effects directors and is the director of the live-action Attack on Titan movies.

Shin Godzilla Godzilla vs. Helicopter

The approach here is that of a procedural – the audience is given a bird’s eye view of the protocol that unfolds in dealing with a crisis, and there are moments when the film really gets into the minutiae of dealing with a large-scale catastrophe. This works both for and against Shin Godzilla: on the one hand, this largely straight-faced nose-to-the-grindstone tack gives the inherently outlandish premise a considerable degree of real-world grounding. On the other hand, audiences go to a giant monster movie to see, well, the giant monster. Any potentially awe-inspiring spectacle is strictly secondary to planning, strategy and delegation of tasks, with the politicians and bureaucrats outnumbering the monster roughly 1000 to 1. By the end of the film, this reviewer felt he had become intimately familiar with the 5th floor of the Japanese Prime Minister’s office.

Shin Godzilla Godzilla task force huddle around laptops

Anno and Higuichi have several tricks up their sleeves when it comes to this new Godzilla’s physiology. Iconic design elements and powers that the creature is known to display are preserved, with a bit of a spin put on things. At the same time, it’s evident that these filmmakers have a love and respect for what’s come before, and fans of the classic Godzilla movies will recognise some particular music cues. Instead of the traditional man-in-a-suit technique, Godzilla is portrayed by Mansai Nomura via motion capture. There are bits of the design that we found a little awkward, chief of them being the giant unwieldy tail, and the short, skinny arms, with palms faced upward in a pose of perpetual puzzlement. While the visual effects work is spotty in parts, the destruction of Tokyo skyscrapers carries enough weight, and is far more convincing than the traditional knocking aside of miniature Styrofoam towers.

Shin Godzilla Godzilla 2

The standard “military vs. monster” conflict that is a staple of this genre is in full effect here, with oodles of hardware on show. However, Anno is careful enough in devising the story such that it doesn’t come off as totally jingoistic, and a key plot point focuses on the participation of the Americans in battling Godzilla. When the last resort of nuking Tokyo is proposed, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is brought up, but not in an emotionally manipulative manner. After all, in the original 1954 film, Godzilla himself was a metaphor for the nuclear destruction which was rained down on Japan. The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and the ensuing Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown served as inspirations for this reboot. The massive toll that Godzilla’s emergence takes on Tokyo is given consequence, and the destruction doesn’t feel as hollow as in most effects-driven Hollywood disaster movies. It’s still far from subtle though: the line “man is more frightening than Godzilla” is uttered with nary a hint of irony.

Shin Godzilla Satomi Ishihara and Hiroki Hasegawa

Hasegawa’s Yaguchi is nominally our protagonist, but we don’t actually spend all that much time with him. A seemingly endless parade of officials and advisors from every branch of the government marches across the screen, and because there isn’t an everyman’s point of view, it can be difficult to get into the proceedings. Hasegawa is sympathetic and it’s easy to root for him to keep his composure under enormous pressure. Ishihara lends the ambitious and confident Kayoko a cheekiness and gives the film much of its energy, but it would have made more sense to cast a Japanese-American actress in the role, seeing as the character grew up in the United States. Ishihara noticeably struggles with the chunks of English dialogue she’s given, and admitted in a press conference that learning the lines was so frustrating that she was often on the brink of tears.

Shin Godzilla Hiromi Hasegawa and Yuteka Takenouchi

Shin Godzilla unfolds mostly in conference rooms and offices, but there’s enough momentum in the plot such that it’s interesting throughout, if not exactly riveting. As a “what if?” scenario depicting how the Japanese authorities would deal with the sudden appearance of an unidentified giant monster, Shin Godzilla is broadly plausible. It is, however, disappointingly short on satisfying thrills.

Summary: It’s politicians and bureaucrats vs. a giant monster in this intelligent and thoughtfully-crafted but not particularly exciting or affecting Godzilla reboot.

RATING: 3 out of 5 Stars

Jedd Jong

Harbinger Down

For F*** Magazine

HARBINGER DOWNDirector : Alec Gillis
Cast : Lance Henriksen, Camille Balsamo, Matt Winston, Giovonnie Samuels, Winston James Francis, Mick Ignis, Michael Estime, Jason Speer, Reid
Collums

Genre : Sci-Fi/Horror
Run Time : 82 mins
Opens : 13 August 2015

Rating : NC-16 (Some Violence and Disturbing Scenes)

“There’s an organism on this ship” are not words you want to hear, especially in a horror movie. Sadie (Balsamo), is a university student working on her thesis, accompanied by her professor Stephen (Winston) and her classmate Ronelle (Samuels) on an expedition to study the impact of climate change on Beluga whale migratory behavior in the Bering Sea. They hitch a ride on the Harbinger, a crab fishing trawler captained by Sadie’s grandfather Graff (Henriksen). Chancing upon the wreckage of a Soviet spacecraft from the 80s frozen in the ice, Sadie and Graff decide to haul it onto the ship, a decision some of the other crew members question. The spacecraft harbours a deadly secret – mutant tardigrades, resilient microorganisms that have transformed into a fearsome creature intent on devouring all aboard the Harbinger

Harbinger Down comes from writer-director Alec Gillis and is produced by Tom Woodruff, Jr. Gillis and Woodruff are the founders of Amalgamated Dynamics Inc., a special effects studio that has furnished animatronic effects for films such as Starship Troopers, Alien vs. Predator and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. They worked on 2011’s The Thing, only to discover that their animatronic effects had been replaced by computer-generated imagery in the finished film. This was not the only film ADI had worked on to suffer that fate. Fed up with how Hollywood was treating their work and bolstered by the positive reaction their work had garnered from movie fans online, Gillis and Woodruff set out to make an independent creature feature that would contain only practical effects work, a monster movie made using lo-fi techniques including performers in suits, miniature photography, effects makeup and stop-motion animation. The result is Harbinger Down, partially funded via a Kickstarter campaign.

With all this background information in mind, it’s clear that the film’s purpose is to prove the point that practical effects are better than digital ones; a way for old-fashioned special effects creators to vindicate themselves. It’s very clear that the plot is merely a flimsy skeleton on which to hang the monster mayhem. This has all the hallmarks of cheaply-made science fiction horror: it all takes place in a single location, most of the actors deliver performances that deserved to be confined to a community theatre stage and the dialogue is clunky and laden with clichés. The crusty sea dogs have to unwillingly play host to a bunch of academics who are in way over their heads when a long-buried evil is loosed on their vessel. “Some things should stay frozen,” deckhand Atka (Edwin Bravo) intones with all the subtlety of a hammer to the face. The pitch that Gillis and Woodruff put on Kickstarter was that this is “in the spirit of two of the greatest sci-fi/horror films of all time, Alien and The Thing (1982)”. Harbinger Down is less “in the spirit” of those two modern classics and more “stuck in their shadow”.

 As mentioned earlier, the performances aren’t great – Matt Winston is particularly hammy as the obnoxious professor. Camille Balsamo’s Sadie is a protagonist we’ve seen hundreds of times in this genre, the adventurous, intelligent young woman who is plunged into a terrifying adventure. The character is competent and courageous, but also commits acts of stupidity as the plot demands. Black Sea from earlier this year presented us with a more believable crew of grizzled, bearded sailors manning a rickety vessel than we see here. Milla Bjorn’s Svet is the token tough chick, confrontational and quick to draw her trusty knife. The saving grace in the cast is Lance Henriksen, whom genre fans know best as the android Bishop in Aliens. He takes it seriously, is convincing as the veteran captain of a trawler and brings a much-needed dose of gravitas to the proceedings. The genre cred certainly doesn’t hurt either. 

With a film that exists primarily to showcase the monster effects, the big question is “how do they look?” There are several gross-out moments of body horror that recall old-school genre favourites and the film occasionally manages to drum up some thrills. For the most part, the effects are well-executed, though the opening sequence of the Russian spacecraft crashing back down to earth is pretty phony-looking. Tardigrades look like horror movie monsters as it is, so that’s a decent starting point, but there is no defining concept to the creature design – the most effective movie monsters such as the Xenomorphs from Alien and the Brundlefly from 1986’s The Fly have an underlying unifying logic to their design that makes them indelible. The mutant tardigrade creature in Harbinger Down looks as if someone threw a bag of standard “movie monster” traits into a pile: teeth, tentacles, spines, pulsating nodes, icky ooze et al – with blue LED lights on top for the hell of it. That the monster fails to even approach iconic is disappointing, considering the talent involved in bringing it to life is clearly skilled and passionate about their chosen brand of movie magic. 

When it comes down to it, Harbinger Down is little more than a SyFy original movie with considerably more effort put into the effects. It may be of interest to genre aficionados given the origins of the production and the fact that it originates from ADI, but if you’re walking into this not knowing who Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr. are, you won’t leave caring about them. If this movie proves anything, it’s that it really doesn’t matter if the effects are practical or digital when they are not in service of a compelling story. 

Summary: Hardcore genre movie geeks may find this creature feature worth their while, but outside of that niche, Harbinger Down is too formulaic and forgettable to make much of an impact. 

RATING: 2 out of 5 Stars


Jedd Jong 

Godzilla (2014)

For F*** Magazine

GODZILLA

Director : Gareth Edwards
Cast : Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn
Genre : Action, Sci-fi
Opens: : 15 May 2014
Rating : PG (Some Intense Sequences)

It has been ten years since Godzilla: Final Wars, and the King of Monsters has returned to reclaim his rubble-built throne in this film. Lt. Ford Brody (Taylor-Johnson) is an explosive ordnance disposal technician, who has a young son (Carlson Bode) with his wife, nurse Elle (Olsen). As a child, Ford lived in Japan, where his parents Joe (Cranston) and Sandy (Binoche) were supervisors at a nuclear power plant. A catastrophic incident in which the power plant was attacked by a Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism, or MUTO, still haunts Ford. 15 years later, the MUTO has re-emerged and as the military scrambles to fight it, scientist Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Watanabe) believes only one thing can truly stop it: the powerful ancient creature known as Godzilla – but not without causing its share of damage.

The release of this Godzilla film marks Big G’s 60th anniversary; the creature has appeared in a staggering 30 official films (including this one) since 1954. The original film was a serious-minded one but over time, it’s become harder and harder to take the creation seriously, the iconic kaiju sometimes regarded as camp and mostly viewed as a friendly mascot (look for “Godzilla happy dance” on YouTube). Director Gareth Edwards, who became an overnight sensation with his micro-budget creature feature Monsters in 2010, has delivered an incarnation of the monster that can indeed be taken seriously. With Godzilla, the creature’s second proper Hollywood outing, Edwards has crafted an effective disaster movie which possesses admirable scope and scale. In an age where moviegoers are difficult to impress, this is pretty darn impressive. The sheer amount of visual effects work and the number of major action set-pieces in this one film is hard to wrap one’s head around and yet, it’s not overwhelming or repetitive. 

We’ll be upfront about it: the plot isn’t Godzilla’s strongest point. The protagonist is little more than “the soldier” and his wife is merely “the nurse”. There are more than a handful of contrivances which repeatedly position Ford Brody in the middle of the action and he must be followed around by the same guardian angel who was looking out for Brad Pitt’s Gerry Lane in World War Z, seeing how he survives multiple catastrophes with nary a scratch. Seeing the future Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver as a married couple might gross some of the geekier audience members out a tad. However, there are definitely things about the narrative that work: it’s couched as a conspiracy thriller of sorts and the downright terrific opening credits are presented as a montage of Godzilla’s appearances throughout history, which the relevant authorities have tried to conceal from the public. Even though the military plays a pivotal role, Godzilla does not come off as jingoistic.
In addition to essentially being a scaled-up take on Monsters, Godzilla also takes a handful of pages from Steven Spielberg’s playbook. The late reveal of the titular monster (it’s approximately an hour in before Godzilla shows up proper) echoes Jaws, as does the surname “Brody”. The post-9/11 disaster movie feel is reminiscent of War of the Worlds. The daddy issues are present in many of Spielberg’s works. The father who grows obsessed with an outré subject is from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. And of course, there’s the Jurassic Park connection, not just with the giant creatures running amok but also in scenes like a helicopter approaching a jungle. But while Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla was an unsuccessful Jurassic Park rip-off, the above influences enrich Edwards’ work and do not stick out as being “stolen”. 

As of late, we’ve heard complaints of blockbusters being stuffed with too much wanton destruction, to the extent that scenes of major cities being levelled no longer carry any weight. Here, there is calamity with consequence; Edwards striking a difficult balance between the visceral thrill of seeing giant monsters punch each other and the solemnity of witnessing cities laid to waste and countless lives destroyed. Japanese fans have complained that Godzilla appears to have become the Burger King of all Monsters, having packed on the tons. Yes, Godzilla does seem a little pudgier here, but his presence is no less awe-inspiring and in spite of the extra weight and relatively small head, nothing seems very “off” about his look here. The character animation on Godzilla and his MUTO opponents is excellent; the creatures end up being great “actors” thanks to the emotion the visual effects artists imbue their facial expressions with. There’s also just enough of a nod in their movements to the heyday of men in rubber suits shoving each other about a model city without coming off as silly.  

Despite the cast not being the main draw, nobody in Godzilla is terrible. Taylor-Johnson borders on wooden but still brings a humanity to Brody, though at 23, he does seem a little young to be the father of a five-year-old. We do wish Elizabeth Olsen had more to do; she isn’t in the thick of the action for most of the film. Bryan Cranston is good as the troubled, slightly manic dad, though he isn’t in the film as much as the trailers would lead you to believe, playing more of a supporting role. Ken Watanabe is perfectly respectable, but he does constantly look worried/constipated. Sally Hawkins, in her first big-budget blockbuster, doesn’t have much to do either as his assistant. David Strathairn is the standard military type here but thankfully, isn’t characterized as ridiculously hard-nosed.
While the “human element” might be lacking somewhat, there is more than enough in Godzilla to get emotionally invested in and thanks to Edwards’ vision, this does stand above the loud, noisy blockbuster pack. The high-altitude low-opening parachute jump scene towards the film’s climax is gorgeously shot by cinematographer Seamus McGarvey, a moment of calm in the midst of the storm. For the most part though, the 3D effects are not sufficiently noticeable. The spectacle is massive but not numbing and the film takes itself just seriously enough without being droll and depressing. It is respectful of the original 1954 film while offering enough to make modern jaded audiences sit up and take notice. And as an added bonus, at no point does Matthew Broderick remark “that’s a lot of fish”. 

Summary: While there isn’t as much to the human characters as there could’ve been, Gareth Edwards serves up a spectacular royal rumble fit for the king. 
RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

Jedd Jong