starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olson, Carson Bolde and David Strathairn
screenplay by Max Borennstein
directed by Gareth Edwards
Based on the character created by Toho Co., Ltd. of Japan. Ken Watanabe doesn’t say or do much in this movie. I think it’s a waste of his talent. When he does speak most of what comes out of his mouth is stupid. Things like, “The arrogance of man is thinking nature is in our control and not the other way around.” Who the hell ever thought nature was in our control anyway? No one. As a species we have a long history of manipulating nature. But who ever thought that we control it? Come on you dumb screenplay writers!
Godzilla is not the main character here. Instead it’s MUTO - “Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism.” Or, rather, two of them, a male and a female who are going to mate and populate the earth with monsters. Godzilla magically appears to attack and defeat the Muto and return the earth to some kind of Japanese Buddhist equilibrium.
The story opens in 1999 when Japanese scientists are called to the Philippines where miners have discovered a giant creature skeleton buried in the earth. Along with it are fertile spores that they collect and return to Japan to study. Then skip ahead a number of years and it turns out that this giant spore has been gestating and now hatches at a Japanese nuclear power plant where Bryan Cranston works. Cranston plays Joe Brody, an American engineer working at the plant, living in Japan with his American family. Very neat for me, listening to him try to speak Japanese. I thought, “That guy’s face looks so familiar. Who is that?” I wracked my brains trying to remember where I had seen Bryan Cranston before and then remembered that he played CIA executive Jack O’Donnell in Ben Affleck’s 2012 film Argo.
The MUTO hatches, destroys the nuclear plant and the surrounding city. The Japanese try to disguise it as a nuclear accident like contemporary Tohoku’s Fukushima plant, with a tightly policed quarantine zone. But Joe Brody is on an unstoppable quest to reveal the great cover up. Humans cannot contain the monster and so MUTO escapes into the sea and heads first to Hawaii and then to the U.S. mainland in search of radioactive material to feed on. Lots of civilian destruction. The U.S. military have the stupid idea of using massive nuclear warheads to try to destroy the creatures even after they understand that radiation is what it thrives on. Duh! The MUTO represents a threat to civilization. But then out of the blue Godzilla appears from the ocean deep to battle the MUTO. Why? Ken Watanabe suggests it is to “restore balance” to nature. Yeah, right.
Godzilla is kind of fat and moves so slowly in this movie. His chubbiness, I think, is to make the monster resemble more closely the rubber-suit Godzilla made famous in so many cheap Toho studio films over the years, and to counter criticisms of Roland Emmerich’s 1998 Godzilla movie (starring Matthew Broderick), that the monster looked only like a giant dinosaur.
Incidentally, in Japan Godzilla is female, not male.