A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to that this take on Godzilla has relentless, near-constant sci-fi action/destruction on a massive scale. Although there isn't anything particularly gory, the smashing and crushing and pounding might be scary for younger kids, especially since some scenes feature children extremely frightened and afraid for their lives (a child also witnesses the destruction of his parents' workplace from afar). Early in the movie, a man watches his wife die as part of a terrible accident; her death impacts him significantly. Expect some mild swearing, a few kisses between a couple, and minor social drinking. Fans of the original film will be glad to know that the giant radioactive monster, when he does make an appearance, is still impressive after all these years (and better special effects).
What's the story?
Fifteen years after losing his wife (Juliette Binoche) in a horrific nuclear power-plant accident, scientist Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) is still obsessed with the incident. He enlists his son, Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), to help him get back to their old house, long quarantined after the accident. They soon discover that something very wrong is afoot -- and that they may be dealing with the awakening of giant creatures long lying dormant. The military is trying to solve the problem, but perhaps the best one to address it isn't a human at all, but rather another beast that's been roaming the seas for years: GODZILLA.
Is it any good?
Godzilla is both thrilling and broodier than you might expect for this kind of a movie. It's exciting because the special effects are fantastic, a far cry from the Godzillas of yore, and because the actors, though underused -- especially Cranston -- bring a level of authenticity to characters, something we don't often get in this genre. And when we finally do see Godzilla, after a prolonged wait, it's a thrilling moment. In fact, any time Godzilla makes an appearance on screen, it's interesting.
Unfortunately, there's not enough Godzilla in this movie and two too many otherworldly creatures, specifically the M.U.T.O.s (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism). Godzilla fights them, as do the humans, but they feel more like a distraction. And the dialogue is clunky in places, prone to over-explanation. (A sample line, told with a straight face: "It's not the end of the world," uttered, of course, when the world clearly is ending.) Each scene is so laden with portent and overwhelmed by Alexander Desplat's foreboding score that it's hard to differentiate one moment from the next. But the finish? It's a crowd-pleaser, which just bumps the movie into three-star territory.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Godzilla's violence and destruction. How does the impact of the kind of massive-scale devastation seen in this kind of a movie compare to more realistic violence? Do you think these kinds of movies can desensitize viewers to violence?
Why do you think Godzilla has been remade so many times? What do you think filmmakers hope to achieve by remaking a classic? How often do you prefer remakes to the original?
Talk about the idea of man subverting nature. Do you think humanity has done that? And if so, what do you think the effects are? How does the movie address this theme?
- In theaters: May 16, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: September 16, 2014
- Cast: Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson
- Director: Gareth Edwards
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 123 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.