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May 23rd, 2014

Movie Review - Godzilla


Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Bryan Cranston, CJ Adams, Elizabeth Olsen, Carson Bolde, Sally Hawkins, Juliette Binoche, David Strathairn, Richard T. Jones, Victor Rasuk, and more.

Directed by: Gareth Edwards Screenplay by: Max Borenstein Story by: David Callaham Cinematography by: Seamus McGarvey Music by: Alexandre Desplat

Premise: In 1999, a mining operation in the Philippines inadvertently awakens something that ends up causing a disaster at a nuclear plant in Japan. Fifteen years later, the same portents once witnessed by Joe Brody reappear as he and his son enter illegally into the quarantine zone in the they once lived in. Yet these portents herald more than he or his son could ever imagine. (Rated PG-13)


1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Aaron Taylor-Johnson showed both tough and vulnerable sides as Ford Brody. Ken Watanabe's expressions spoke volumes as the reserved Dr. Ishiro Serizama, contrasting with Bryan Cranston's portrayal of Joe Brody, who physically and vocally demanded answers to his questions. Kudos to CJ Adams as he did much to set up the stage at the beginning of the film.

2)  Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: Superb work in both CGI and normal special effects by the special effects department. The dig in the Philippines, especially the section of tunnel with the vertebrae - amazing. The awakening of Muto also deserves heavy praise. But so does the less obvious yet as impacting scene where we see how the 1999 Japanese town had changed in fifteen years - even keeping in mind the climate and materials used there and how they actually decay things in Japan versus someplace like New York.

The near misses with the creatures for the humans were seamless and really tied together well. But you never want to be the flea that gets noticed by the dog -- there are several scenes showing us why this is so. The sequences on and by the train bridge were totally outstanding. The burning tank? Priceless.

Godzilla himself differs from the traditional and the updated Japanese look, but all the important parts as well as the general 'look and feel' are there. Rather than go with other famous monsters we've seen in the "Godzilla" franchise, the filmmakers made the smart move and created some new ones. And they looked fantastic. The egg sac sequences alone were very cool.

All the explosions, near misses, collapsing buildings, falling airplanes, and more, were excellently done. The cool smoke and debree effects, especially those that made Godzilla appear to have ninja skills? Fabulous.

3) Plot/Story - Total Thumbs Up: I may be mistaken, but it seemed to me that those who put this film together totally get what "Godzilla" films are about. Any fan of the old and even recent Japanese "kaiju" (monster) films will be ecstatic. All the little things that make "Godzilla" movies what they are were present in this version. The details are mostly non-tangible things, but without them, the film wouldn't be a true "Godzilla" film. Things like the presence of children at major junctions; the belief he's here to help and isn't just some random creature, the bizarre yet inescapable feeling that he's helping humans and even seems aware of some of them, as if a link has formed between the creature and the humans struggling below. They even tied the story to the original 1954 black and white film. Major kudos, guys, for getting it right.

For the most part, the plot is pretty solid. Monster films aren't known for strong plots, so this was a lovely surprise. The only glaring hiccup had to do with the train with the missiles, but with the awesome scenes they did there because of it, the slip is easy to forgive. (Still, how do you lose track of a giant monster?) Add in some well done multi level family subplots, and the movie had more depth and range than you'd normally expect from a "kaiju" film.

There are a ton of little moments where reality and what we know are one way, then a second later, it isn't what we know anymore. Nice shocks to the system to remind us how quickly things can change.

4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: Giant monsters go hand in hand with stunts - it is inevitable, because as we all know, if you're a soldier firing a machine gun or rockets at a creature a zillion times your size - there'll be consequences - awesomely visual consequences.  And the ones presented here were executed perfectly.

5) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: The film did a great job with the locations. It was fitting that the first amounts of death and destruction happened in Japan. The look and feel of each of the locations grounded the viewers immediately, so as the film hops from country to country, even city to city, the audience has no trouble knowing where it's all happening. All the special touches with regards to the EMPs, the train bridge, China Town, and the plane jump, ratcheted the whole work 'up a notch'.

There's a plethora of amazing shots in the film throughout.

6) Music - Total Thumbs Up: The score by Alexandre Desplat was perfect for the film. While he didn't sneak in any obvious snippets from the well known Japanese "Godzilla" theme, he still captured the essence of the music of the time and used it to add more flavor to the experience as a whole. The "2001: A Space Odyssey" like sound used for the military insertion into San Francisco couldn't have been more apt.

Conclusion: If you've ever enjoyed any of the Japanese monster films, be it those with "Godzilla", "Mothra", or "Gamera", this is a must see for you. For those who've never seen one, go! You're in for a fun treat.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Paying Full Price to See Again!)

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic



(2015) Fantasy

The King is Dead! Long Live the Undead King!

"What are you implying?"

The magister glided forward and scrunched down beside him.

"That in order to bathe, you must first actually get into the bath."


(2014) Urban Fantasy

It took everything from her, except revenge!

The muscles in my right arm jerked from tension as I tried to make it move and it resisted. A shrill scream inside my head insisted I didn't want to do this. That if I did, there'd be no way to take it back. "I...I'm afraid."


(2011) Young Adult – Fantasy

Which is worse…the monster without or within?


Home—family—the two things he would never have, the two things forever denied him…because of her.

Anger welled inside him, the heat of it suffusing him to the core, gurgling with seething emotions the total opposite of the coolness splashing down from the fountain nearby. Before he realized what he was doing, Jarrin stepped inside the gazebo.

(2007) Young Adult – Fantasy
“Harry Potter meets Dragon Riders of Pern”


“Do you need any help?” she asked. “Just tell me what you want me to do. If you prefer, I’m sure I can round up at least a few people to come over and give you a hand.”

Kel slowly shook his head. “It’s all right. Thanks anyway.” His voice lowered to where she almost couldn’t hear it. “This is all part of my punishment.’

She frowned, not understanding what he meant. “Punishment?”

Kel cocked his head in Clarence’s direction. In a flash, she understood. None of this was an accident. Clarence had landed there deliberately, hoping to make Kel pay for all he went through in the past month. She shook her head, not wanting to believe this, but what the dragon said next took any doubts right out of her head.

(2008) Young Adult – Fantasy
“To save the world she must DIE! Or must she?”


Panic and fear filled with utter helplessness made her dizzy. She knew what would be done with her, she knew what they planned. But there was nothing she could do to stop any of it.

Sharp gasps echoed in her ears as she felt the room’s cold air caress the Eye.

“You were right. She is the one.”

(2002) Adult/YA – Japanese Fantasy Adventure
“The Last Samurai meets Pirates of the Caribbean”


Laying the blade on the floor before him, Toshi parted his kimono until his stomach lay exposed. He tucked his sleeves beneath his legs to hold him upright if he should falter. Ignoring Asano, he took up the blade. His shoulder flared with pain and he tried not to flinch, as he grabbed the blade with both hands. He turned the wakizashi until its sharp point was aimed at his belly, the residence of his soul.

(2004) Adult/YA – Fantasy Mystery
“He tried to forget his past, but his past wouldn’t forget him”


Torren took a step back a sudden shudder racking through him. It was as if he’d never left, as if the boy he’d been would be coming back-though the one who’d loved this room and all these things was long, long dead. That boy died when he’d watched his father’s blood pour forth from his mouth, the end of a sword protruding from his abdomen. That boy died when he survived while everyone else lay dead.

Info, sample chapters, and free reads at www.gloriaoliver.com

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