I may not have been the absolute biggest Godzilla fan around but I've probably seen every movie. I couldn't tell you what the very first Godzilla movie I saw was but whenever a Godzilla movie (or other rubber suit monster) was on during a Saturday afternoon, I was there watching with my brother. I even watched that animated series from long ago with the god-awful Godzooky (if you don't know what or who that is, please, don't look it up). When word came out there would be a reboot on the big screen, I did my best not to have any expectations, positive or negative. We've seen many slick and glossy remake of things from our childhood that simply aren't made for us but rather the new generation. Special effects are often given a higher priority than retaining the true essence of the original source material.
The nice thing about this remake is, it's actually pretty good.
The filmmakers do a good job in introducing new viewers to who Godzilla is. His origin isn't what you might immediately think and that adds a slightly different twist. Having the movie start out fifteen years ago allows us to see Bryan Cranston and Aaron Taylor-Johnson's character (as a kid). This gives us a human connection to the story that will interweave between the moments of chaos.
Yes, there is a story.
Instead of focusing simply on monster fights and destruction, we get a slightly slow build. Some may demand to see Godzilla stomping around right away but, if you think about it, that could get old right quickly. We need the human connection in order to care about this movie world. At first I even questioned why we would see events leading to some destruction only to have the movie cut away to the aftermath. It felt a little cheap but it did leave you in suspense for the big climactic ending.
As for the human aspect, as important as it is, it's not what you'll take away from the movie. At the center is Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen. Taylor-Johnson does a fine job in his role but it becomes a little tiresome when he manages to be pretty much everywhere something big or crucial is happening. What felt a little odd was Ken Watanabe's role. He was the Godzilla expert. He brought the science into the movie. But he was also the one that seemed to be in shock during most of the movie.
The movie also goes out of its way to include a few big cities. Who doesn't want to see their city involved in a Godzilla movie? Seeing the movie in San Francisco, you could hear people perk up, chuckle, and start whispering when the city was first mentioned. It's just too bad many of the big landmarks clearly were not actually filmed in the city.
These things are insignificant. People aren't going to a Godzilla movie for the human actors or the detail to the cities that get ravaged. It's all about Godzilla, monster fights, and detailed destruction. That is what you'll get here. There is a story. There is a reason for the destruction. It's not just a shiny glossy movie with giant action scenes. It's a Godzilla movie, pretty much exactly like you want to see. And if hearing Godzilla's first big roar doesn't bring a big old smile to your face, then it's time for you to get to know the true glory of Godzilla.