Gareth Edwards' take on the classic monster franchise has much of what a great blockbuster should, and I wonder if it won't be a Jurassic Park for millennial teenagers. At the same time, in an odd and pulpy way, it serves as a telling snapshot of a whole host of modern cultural paradoxes: competing commitments to art, commerce, energy, the environment, empire, democracy, and to my surprise, faith.
A brief intro to the human component of the drama: Bryan Cranston plays Joe Brody, whose tidy expat life as a nuclear scientist in Japan was forever changed fifteen years before the main events of the movie. Now he comes across as a lonely conspiracy theorist, less malicious than a birther but as obsessed as a grassy-knoller, written off even by his own son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). But, as you might suspect, Brody the Elder doesn't seem crazy for long.
The movie does some things very, very well. The soundtrack was composed and conducted by Alexandre Desplat, who did the soundtrack for Tree of Life and has been nominated six times by the Academy. It's unrelenting fortissimo that stylishly incorporates Japanese drums, and knows exactly when to drop some BWAAMs. (Note: some outlets have misreported this noise as BRAAM. They are wrong.)
Gareth Edwards is a clear fan of Steven Spielberg, and if Super 8 was the ultimate sign of respect to Spielberg's alien tales, then Godzilla is a take on his monsters. The references and homages are everywhere. Little foreshadowing shots that focus on an iguana sitting on a log and toy dinosaurs on a table. Back spikes sticking out of the water like our favorite shark. And keep an eye out for the fantastic King Kong reference in one of the final fight scenes.