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Study Break: Godzilla movie review

David Kahn

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Gareth Edwards’ take on the massively popular film franchise “Godzilla” opened Friday.

For all the hype and derision for the giant reptilian beast over the years, this new take on Godzilla is able to weave together the authentic feeling of the cult monster movie and the grand, CGI-enhanced cinematography of a big budget disaster flick quite well.

From the opening credits, the film firmly establishes a world where giant monsters not only exist but have been terrorizing humans for decades in varying degrees of secrecy. Viewers will see other Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms causing earthquakes and nuclear plant meltdowns well before they get a good look at Godzilla.

What works effectively is the main point of view of the movie is often of specific human characters. This gives a sense of reality and honesty to what is, at heart, a fantastical expression of willing suspension of disbelief.

The film’s namesake doesn’t truly appear until halfway through the movie, and is only really used to full effect at the very end, which is fine because the end is freaking amazing.

The filmmakers know what viewers want to see in a Godzilla movie: giant monsters leveling cities and kicking the everloving crap out of each other. And this movie does not disappoint.

Granted, the first hour of the movie is really just setup for the inevitable maelstrom of destruction to come, but focusing on the human element somehow makes the eventual payoff all the richer.

Viewers sat through the human drama and had to think about how they might react in any of the situations presented. When everything hit the fan, they could appreciate the human desperation for survival while reveling in the sheer spectacle that is this film’s climax.

Spoiler alert for those who haven’t seen the movie, trailers or any previous Godzilla movies: We see the characters’ original fear of Godzilla only to realize the truth – Godzilla is actually good. Kind of.

Godzilla is the only real line of defense against other Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms. Or in this case, two vaguely insect-looking creatures who just want to breed and flood the world with baby giant alien-bug-spider creatures.

And herein lies the true value of this movie: Giant monster-on-monster battles. Viewers will cheer at Godzilla smashing the totally-not-Mothera flying monster into an office building. They will love it when Godzilla lets loose a jet of blue fire right in the creature’s face.

Every moment of these battles is grand and ridiculously overblown. And that’s why people will watch it.

In a review of any Godzilla movie, one has to compare it to the dozens of previous films. And in this case, the new film certainly holds up.

The human characters are fine, but they’re really only there to introduce us to a world that will soon be torn apart as much as possible.

However, viewers will be able to relate to real, human characters, hoping that they survive while simultaneously enjoying every minute of utter destruction going on around them.

Whether “Godzilla” is a fun monster movie in the guise of a human drama or vice versa is open for interpretation, but either way the film is a blast and a great offering in the noble tradition of summer popcorn flicks.

If you can’t see “Godzilla” in theaters or just want more of the giant reptilian wonder, Netflix has recently added a number of classic Godzilla movies, all of which would make a terrific home movie marathon. What better way to celebrate the end of the school year?

David Kahn can be reached at [email protected] or @thatdavidkahn on Twitter.

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Study Break: Godzilla movie review