Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla revival is a beautifully directed, perfectly paced blockbuster that effortlessly veers between enormity and quieter, almost transcendental, moments. It inherits more than a trick or two from prime Spielberg and fully earns favourable comparisons to the likes of Jurassic Park and Close Encounters of the Third Kind in its balancing of awe-inspiring spectacle and the accompanying terror induced by its world-altering premise.
In an age of indistinct CGI vomit and blockbuster banality, it’s almost a miracle that the oft-gorgeous images in Godzilla instil an actual sense of wonder. Far more horror-tinged than anything of its kind since Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, or any Godzilla feature since the sombre, Hiroshima and Nagasaki-alluding original, its atmosphere is chilling.
Rather than showing his hand early on, Edwards favours suggestion and pulls his cards every so often with his creature confrontations. Subsequently, the escalating set-pieces feel like actual escalation, building to a thrilling, cataclysmic conclusion of maximum impact that genuinely feels climactic, rather than repetitive.
Given the strong cast assembled, it is something of a shame that a few characters have little to do as the film goes on, but then, in this practically apocalyptic take on the story where the sky even looks aflame at times, that the egoist pursuits of the individual become lost in the face of Armageddon seems partly the point; this is visually represented by many a framing of 'Zilla as characters fleeing or hiding would see him.
Its tale is familiar, yes, and its strokes broad, but the hugely satisfying Godzilla is a work of uniquely poetic craft and visual imagination. It’s a masterful monster made with real creative care.