Godzilla Review: All Hail the King


Gareth Edwards makes no secret of the fact that he likes monsters. Big, large beasts that have little regard for how humans impinge on their world. These are not animals; they are nightmares. They demand respect. He showed us this with his debut feature Monsters and demonstrates it again with Godzilla. Clearly, Edwards is a filmmaker capable of demonstrating the respect owed to beings like this. Similarly, he is adept at showing us the love he feels for them too. This is clearly a dream project for him. While short on winking fan-service moments (our other reviewer Emily Donn, who had never seen a Godzilla movie before, tackled that in her write-up), there is still much in this movie's tone that is owed to the original 1954 Godzilla: King of the Monsters. This is not the Godzilla that shakes hands with kung-fu robots after a fight, let alone fights to defend humanity. This is a nightmare awakened by our fears of nuclear energy gone wrong. Fears made palpable by Bryan Cranston as the doomsayer warning anyone who'll listen. We've fallen in, and Cranston is definitely pulling us under with him. While Edwards may have promised a movie even kids can enjoy, this is less of a fun romp with a monster, but almost a tight, political thriller that happens to have an actual living (and sometimes gruesome) metaphor come crashing through it. Yes, Godzilla is big. Yes, he stomps and roars when we finally see him. But he is also very much a living creature, doing this in a place where humans exist. And we're shown their fear at having this presence intrude into their world without it once feeling exploitative. For all the gloom and despair we're shown, though, the movie is anything but a slog and moves along at a quick pace. Godzilla is king not just because we're told he is, but because we see him earn the title.