It walks the walk, but does it talk the talk? We’ve barely tidied up coastal America after the last Godzilla. The new version is as unstinting on stunts, roars and monster locomotion as the 1998 version directed by Roland Emmerich. But if Emmerich was thin on script and character, British director Gareth Edwards and his scenarists are anorexic. Edwards’ debut feature was Monsters(2010), a brilliantly inventive critter epic made on pin money. Now, with an amplified budget, he makes a loudspeakered squeak of an ogre show.
The pond-hopping mega-monster goes to war not just with Japan/California but with a rival beast, the MUTO, resembling “Alien” on stilts. Or worse, resembling, when it lands from brief flying stints, a giantised version of one of those old folk on road signs: stooped, spindly, angular, with a surplus leg like the mother of all walking sticks.
The human characters evince a different decrepitude. They stagger about mewling for colour and characterisation. Aaron Taylor-Johnson – naval hero drafted for anti-monster work – is a muscle ad in stiffly inexpressive action. Nuclear boffins Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins launch their science babble like overloaded speech balloons. Juliette Binoche and Bryan Cranston, as Taylor-Johnson’s mum and dad, are the only mortals worth admission money; but they become disaster pabulum before half-time. Afterwards it is crash, bang, wallop in 3D. This franchise needs renewal. In Godzilla we trust? Not without some serious re-minting of the currency.