'Godzilla' is back, and look out, Frisco

COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. Godzilla is late to the block (flattening) party.
COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. Godzilla is late to the block (flattening) party.
Posted: May 16, 2014

POP CULTURE'S most terrifying creature returns to the screen in "Godzilla."

But it's not Godzilla, it's Bryan Cranston, walking around a lab in a white coat and safety glasses, and wouldn't it be fun to see what Godzilla would do after ingesting a large amount of Walter White's crystal blue?

Cranston, though, is Walter by association only. Like most of the overqualified actors in the movie (Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins, Ken Watanabe), he is mostly around to stare, agape, at some unnamed Thing of Awe.

There's a snarky movie term for this expression - the Spielberg Face. It's the look actors take on when having a close encounter with something momentous.

But Spielberg Face is really Godzilla Face, as Spielberg himself acknowledged in "Jurassic Park II," when a dinosaur rampaging in L.A. spooked a group of Japanese tourists.

Cranston plays a seismologist whose first Godzilla face appears 20 years ago. He's examining strange, unnatural, quakelike readings that accompany the destruction of the nuclear facility where he works, along with his wife (Binoche).

Flash-forward 20 years. His son (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is now in the U.S. military, and Cranston's scientist is a reputed kook, who believes the Japanese and U.S. governments concealed the true cause of the disaster.

His beliefs seem a little less kooky when sensors start picking up these strange noises all over again, presaging something ominous.

Questions arise, such as: When the freak are we going to see Godzilla? The movie plays a waiting game, teasing us with quivering needles and sounds effects, some grainy black and white footage of Gozillaish appendages moving through the water, etc.

When he finally arrives (overdue, if you ask me), he has company. There are other monsters, laying waste to key U.S. cities. Though new to the Godzilla canon, their design will look familiar to those who know from Pikachu - you could call this "Godzilla vs. Pokemon."

The military, of course, has no effect on any of these monsters. Soldier Johnson's main job is to fight his way back to his wife (Elizabeth Olsen) and son. These small human dramas play out in the foreground of gigantic Imax monster fights.

If that's your thing, and your only thing, then this update is for you.

If you want a little more wit or humor, you're out of luck. I know director Gareth Edwards has a cult following stemming from his low-budget "Monsters," but how can you unleash monsters on Vegas and Frisco, and have zero fun with it?

Especially as the monsters hobble humanity with electromagnetic pulses that disable all electrical devices.

There is San Francisco, home of the Internet, forced to exist on nothing but food and water. No Facebook. No Twitter.

Oh, the humanity.


Blog: philly.com/KeepItReel

Online: ph.ly/Movies

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