“Godzilla” comes roaring back to the big screen in the latest reboot, which puts to bed that awful attempt to start a franchise in 1998.
This version, which is much truer to the 1954 original, is a slow-building summer blockbuster that rewards a patient audience with some fantastic visual sequences in the finalthird.
This “Godzilla” begins in 1999 with the collapse of a nuclear power plant in Japan. The collapse is attributed to an earthquake, but plant manager Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) is convinced it was caused by something else.
Flash forward 15 years, and Brody is still trying to prove his hunch. When he is jailed in Japan, his son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) – an officer in the Navy – heads overseas to get his father out of prison.
He arrives determined to bring his father back to the United States, but events unfold that only strengthen Joe’s theory, resulting in the discovery of creatures that could lead to more destruction throughout the world.
Creatures are the key component here, with more than Godzilla in play.
It allows director Gareth Edwards, who is best known for the cult thriller “Monsters,” to create cinematic havoc in multiple major cities, with some impressive visual effects – especially in IMAX format.
The monsters are impressive too, especially the updated version of Godzilla, which expands on the 1954 original version with a more impressive and visually enhanced creation.
Max Borenstein’s screenplay also pays homage to the 1954 version, with tones of government conspiracies that are similar to the same conspiracies that fueled the storyline 60 years earlier.
Cranston fares best in a cast full of familiar names – including Sally Hawkins, Juliette Binoche, Elizabeth Olsen and Ken Watanabe. Despite the best efforts, the human characters just aren’t as interesting, with Cranston the exception. Most come off as one-dimensional characters only there to react to the mayhem and destruction.
But “Godzilla” isn’t supposed to be about people. This is a movie about monsters, and this film delivers the goods on that level in grand fashion.
Also in theaters
The week’s other new release, “Million Dollar Arm” (C+), falls short of its goals despite a promising premise. The latest, based on a true story sports movie from Walt Disney Pictures, wants to be the next “Miracle,” or “The Rookie,” but it ultimately fails because it makes the fatal mistake of focusing the film on a character who is not very likable.
That character is JB (Jon Hamm) a struggling sports agent who comes up with the idea of going to India and finding cricket players to develop into Major League Baseball-caliber pitching prospects.
The search yields two potential prospects, Rinku (Suraj Sharma) and Dinesh (Madhur Mittal), who struggle to adapt to a new culture while they pursue their improbable dream of signing a professional contract.
“Million Dollar Arm” is at its best when focusing on Rinku and Dinesh. Their story is much more interesting and one I wish the film would have spent more time on.
Instead Thomas McCarty’s screenplay focuses on JB, a self-centered, egotistical guy who seems to take the boys for granted. With JB center stage, the story arc of how these boys – and his tenant Brenda (Lake Bell) – transform this hardened single guy into a “family man” with a heart of gold just feels too familiar and pales in comparison to another sports movie that covered the same ground (“Jerry Maguire”).
It’s just hard to root for JB, which in turn makes it hard to root for “Million Dollar Arm.”
“Million Dollar Arm” is rated PG for mild language and some suggestive content and is now playing at the Regal Bowling Green Stadium 12 and Highland Cinemas in Glasgow.