Starring: Aaron Taylor Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston
Directed by: Gareth Edwards (“Monsters”)
Written by: Max Borenstein (debut)
Kiko Martinez: With a more poetic take to the conventional monster movie in his 2010 film “Monsters,” filmmaker Gareth Edwards was a fairly obvious choice to resurrect the “King of Monsters” in a new chapter featuring the Alpha Predator who was first seen on the big screen in 1954. Sixty years later, Edwards uses his entire $160 million budget to create some memorable imagery of the Japanese monster destroying major cities (specifically when military soldiers fling their bodies out of an airplane and beeline straight for the angry beast’s head), but fails to evoke any emotion outside of the first 20 minutes. In reality, Edwards does exactly what I didn’t think he was capable of doing and, well, creates another conventional monster movie (blame most of this on first-time screenwriter Max Borenstein’s generic storytelling devices and Aaron Taylor Johnson’s cardboard personality). Still, Godzilla himself is rendered perfectly and the dark color palette Edwards uses toward the end of the film (along with the less monster-movie-sounding parts of Alexandre Desplat’s score) combine for a series of stunning scenes. Grade: C+
Jerrod Kingery: With the stink of the 1998 Roland Emmerich version finally out of the public consciousness, director Gareth Edwards has unleashed “Godzilla” once again on the American public, this time with much better results. Allusions to real-life disasters like 9/11 and the Fukishima nuclear meltdown ground the film in a reality we’re all too aware of, save for the presence of a skyscraper-sized lizard. Dull humans and an overwhelming amount of expository dialogue weigh the movie down near the beginning, but all is forgiven once Godzilla is given the spotlight doing what he does best: wrecking shop on other giant monsters. Grade: B+
Cody Villafana: Anticipation is one thing but director Gareth Evans damn near tests our patience in his take on the classic film “Godzilla.” Bogged down by a slow start that takes forever to unwind (even with a great performance by Bryan Cranston) “Godzilla” gets stuck in narrative neutral for the better part of the first half of the film. Even once the big guy shows up, the film never really truly feels about him, with much of the story actually involving a couple of other threats. Evans hints at some greater themes through metaphorical and expository dialogue, but never really explores things further once the monsters show up. With wooden characters, a stunted story and a real lack of iconic imagery that Godzilla truly deserves, this is a monster movie that falls flat. Grade: C+
“Godzilla” was not screened by Warner Bros. Pictures for film critics in San Antonio. It was seen during opening weekend.