As I sit reeling from our first encounter via 3D IMAX, there are a mix of emotions that are hard to peg. I think back to the story I tell to my cohort about my first exposure to the King of Monsters watching the Raymond Burr version of the film at the age of 7 and being indelibly marked from that point on. I was even a fan during both the crazy and the camp and didn’t actually hate the 1998 hot mess.
So with this disclaimer out of the way, I also came eagerly to this freshly stamped sophomore effort by director Gareth Edwards via his shoe string indie masterstroke Monsters, released in late 2010. With such an opening pedigree, I thrilled inside at his selection for this franchise reboot. What a reboot it is too.
As the film opens on Bryan Cranston as Nuclear Engineer Joe Brody its apparent that Gareth wants to bring some backstory to this event and it is the first strands of humanity that he will deftly weave through the larger-than-human tale. When a Japanese nuclear plant gets sucked down into a hole in the ground and Joe loses his wife, the toll begins.
As 15 years go by and we meet his grown military son who has to go bail his dad out of jail, we meet the real lead of the film. Aaron Taylor-Johnson (of Kickass fame,) plays Ford Brody who is always in a bad place at the wrong time. As his dad talks him into heading back to the quarantine site of the missing nuclear facility, we meet the first big beastie. Its at this point that I know that Gareth is becoming serious about this world he is building.
It is as we discover that these leftover, over-sized creatures are a part of an old system that no longer exists that I know this is now all serious. As we spin through massive set-piece after massive set-piece the scale of the creatures sets in. As the beastie villain stomps over the face of the earth to mysterious purpose we learn about the way Godzilla is brought into the milieu.
And, when he arrives, I will guarantee he is more than anything you have seen before and when he roars it is a sound unlike any you have heard put to film. He is beyond the word epic or colossal and spectacle does not convey watching him stalk the landscape.
So, suffice it to say when you finally see him battle it is not pretty and not clownish. That’s the genius of what Gareth has wrought here; he suspends all disbelief and once he has sucked you in no matter how jaded a movie-watcher you are, you will be ten again and revel in all the glory that is the mass of destruction before you. I may never forget watching his tail light up and darkly chuckling as I call out in the theater, “Here it comes!”
The King of Monsters is dead – yet long live Godzilla King of Monsters.