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Godzilla is the new sci-fi monster movie featuring the famous Japanese monster of the same name.  The movie serves as a reboot to the Godzilla franchise and is the first film since 1998’s Godzilla starring Matthew Broderick.  This version is directed by newcomer Gareth Edwards who rose to fame with his indie hit Monsters, in which he served as director, writer, cinematographer, and visual effects artist.  The cast of movie includes Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, and Juliette Binoche.  Godzilla is being released in conventional 2D, 3D, and also IMAX 3D.

The movie begins with a horrific catastrophe at a Japanese power plant that the media deems as a large earthquake.  Joe Brody (Cranston), a nuclear physicist at the power plant, loses his wife in the accident and is convinced that there is more going on than just an earthquake.  Fast forward fifteen years and Joe’s son Ford (Taylor-Johnson), a Navy explosive expert, is all grown up with a family of his own who is still trying to corral his father.  Joe and Ford sneak into an unauthorized area that has been dormant since the original catastrophe where they are arrested and taken to a secret facility where the power plant once resided.  Here they meet Dr. Serizawa (Watanabe) who has been holding the creature which caused all of the damage in captivity for fifteen years.  They know very little about the M.U.T.O. (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism), but its impulses are becoming faster as its been feeding off of the power plant all this time.  Now that the monster has awakened, it is time for it to mate with the female species, but Godzilla might have something so say about that.  The M.U.T.O. summons the female, but at the same time awakens Godzilla from depths of the ocean.  Dr. Serizawa believes that nature will correct itself and that Godzilla will destroy the M.U.T.O.’s, but the national military believes that nuclear warfare is the best option.  All roads lead to a face off in the San Francisco harbor with millions of human lives at stake.

Going into Godzilla, I had high hopes that it might be the movie of the summer.  Boy, was I wrong.  Let’s start with Godzilla himself, he looks really cool and it’s really fun when we get to see him for the first time, but that was about it.  He really doesn’t get that much screen time and when he is on screen its either nighttime or rainy and cloudy.  I definitely wanted to see more of him in the daylight in all his glory, but that just didn’t happen.  We mostly just see the spines on his back sticking out of the ocean while he’s swimming.  Same thing with the M.U.T.O’s, the other creatures in the movie, their presence on-screen just isn’t very noteworthy.  The next thing that I thought was lacking was the character development or lack thereof.  With a runtime of just over two hours, there is almost an hour and a half spent on developing a backstory and introducing us to the humans involved.  That said, I didn’t feel like I really knew much of anything about any of the characters when it was over and really didn’t care about any of them either.  This leads me to the story itself, which never came together for me.  It was all over the place and never really found its footing.  To this point, the review has been pretty negative and that is partly due to the fact that I expected more from the movie.  There are definitely some fun moments in Godzilla and it is quite a spectacle on the big screen.  The special effects are top rate and the monsters are very lifelike.  Godzilla is your typical summer popcorn fare that really doesn’t bring anything new to the blockbuster table.  The obvious comparison is to last summer’s Pacific Rim, which is a much superior movie in my opinion.  Godzilla is not a bad movie; I just feel that it had the potential to be so much more.

Grade:  C+

Godzilla opens in theaters on Friday, May 16.

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