GODZILLA – Review by Susan Granger

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In 1954, Ishiro Honda and his Japanese collaborators created the ionic sci-fi creature called “Gojira” as a warning against nuclear proliferation after the horrific bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In 1956, American distributors added footage of Raymond Burr and the dubbed-into-English version was released as “Godzilla, King of the Monsters.” In the intervening years, the legendary reptile has spawned more than 28 different reinterpretations. Read on…

In this version, in 1999, crypto-zoologists (Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins) find puzzling chrysalis-shaped pods attached to an enormous skeleton, and one pod has already hatched. Meanwhile, in Japan, Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston), an earnest American scientist, loses his wife Sandra (Juliette Binoche) when the Janjira nuclear plant where they worked suffered a seismic reaction. Skeptical of the “natural disaster” cover-up by the Tokyo government, Joe has been obsessively searching for an explanation for the past 15 years, despite urgings to move on from his semi-estranged son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a military explosives expert who has a distraught wife (Elizabeth Olsen) and son (Carson Bolde) in San Francisco. But there are signs of history repeating itself when mysterious monsters appear.

Working from a globe-trotting screenplay credited to Max Borenstein with a cautionary environmental story by David Callaham, British-born director Gareth Edwards (low-budgeted “Monsters”) concentrates on the formulaic characters, slowly building tension while suggesting that U.S. nuclear testing in the Pacific Ocean (1946-1962) somehow nourished an amphibious behemoth. Now, it’s Filipino mining that reawakens “Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms” (MUTOs), and only a sentient, prehistoric beast like Godzilla can save humanity.

Appearing 492-feet tall, this completely CGI Godzilla is awesome and surprisingly lifelike, since the filmmakers recruited Andy Serkis (“Lord of the Rings,” “King Kong”) as their motion-capture actor to suggest facial expressions for the animated creature’s emotional reactions. In previous Godzilla movies, close-ups always relied on the traditional man-in-a-monster costume.

Best viewed with 3-D enhancement of the epic battles, on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Godzilla” stomps in with a slick, spectacular 7 – memorable for its mythic monster visual effects.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.