After the release of 2004’s Godzilla: Final Wars, which celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the franchise, Toho announced that it would not produce any films featuring the Godzilla character for ten years. They made good on their promise by demolishing the gigantic water stage on its lot that had been used in so many films. And TriStar Pictures, which had the rights to make two to more movies after 1998’s American flop, let the rights expire.

An unlikely hero would arise to bring back the King of the Monsters.

Yoshimitsu Banno, who had directed Godzilla vs. Hedorah and was banned for making another Godzilla film while producer Tomoyuki Tanaka was alive, secured the rights from Toho to make a Godzilla IMAX 3D film called Godzilla to the Max, which would have been a remake of Hedorah.

By 2008, the team making the movie expanded and got the rights from Toho to move from a short to a full-length 3D movie, which brought on Legendary Pictures for backing. Sadly, Banno would pass away in 2013 but is listed as an executive producer on all of their Godzilla films.

In licensing Godzilla to Legendary, Toho made a few rules. Godzilla had to have been born of a nuclear incident and the movie had to be set in Japan. While not one of the rules, the filmmakers made great pains to create a Godzilla that looked more like the real thing, not the iguana design of Roland Emmerich’s film.

The film starts in 1954, as Godzilla is lured to Bikini Atoll to be nuked out of existence. 45 years later, scientists from Monarch — an organization that also appears in Kong: Skull Island — find a skeleton similar to the beast and some spores in the Philippines. Meanwhile, Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) sends his wife and her team to test a reactor before a plant collapses, but they all die, sending him on a lifelong question to find out why the seismic activity was so off the charts that day.

Fifteen years later, he’s arrested for trespassing in the zone around the dead reactor and his military son U.S. Navy EOD LT Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) must come to bail him out. Soon, the MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) emerges and kills him in an event reported as an earthquake.

The MUTO end up being the real enemy and not Godzilla, as they destroyed his entire race leaving him the last survivor. By the end of the film, humanity comes to see the creature as a potential savior.

With Elizabeth Olsen as Ford’s wife Elle and Ken Watanabe as Dr. Ishiro Serizawa, this film has a great cast and an engaging story, staying closer to the original tone of Godzilla than any film since.

Eight year old me would like to inform you that it takes an hour for Godzilla to show up and he’s only in the movie for eleven minutes.

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