For a brief few years in the 2010s, Gareth Edwards was one of the most promising up-and-coming filmmakers of his generation. After earning the attention of Hollywood in 2010 for his skillfully made sci-fi indie, Monsters, Edwards was chosen to helm two major blockbuster franchise films — one of which happened to be set in a galaxy far, far away.
Unfortunately, that film, a little-known sci-fi adventure called Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, was subject to some major behind-the-scenes creative disagreements and post-production changes. And in the years since Rogue One’s release, Edwards has more or less fallen into obscurity again.
That’s disappointing because Gareth Edwards is the kind of filmmaker Hollywood desperately needs to keep around right now. He’s one of the finest technical craftsmen of his generation, and no film proves that more than 2014’s Godzilla, the moody and awe-inspiring monster movie reboot that deserves way more love than it’s gotten up to this point.
It’s available to stream now on HBO Max. Here’s why Inverse recommends that you check it out ASAP.
When Godzilla was first released in 2014, the reception it received was surprisingly lackluster. While most agreed that it was pretty good, many got hung up on its treatment of certain characters and the decision to keep its central creature’s screentime fairly limited. All in all, the general consensus surrounding the film seemed to be that it wasn’t as good as it could have been.
There is some validity to that take, but seven years after its release, it’s clear just how special Edwards’ Godzilla is. In a time when so many Hollywood blockbusters seem to be stitched together out of badly directed CGI action sequences and overly frenetic screenplays, Edwards’ Godzilla is the kind of patient, well-crafted epic that reminds you how unique and different big-budget studio films can be when they’re actually entrusted to filmmakers with clear points of view.
From shooting parts of an enormous CGI fight through the goggles of a soldier falling through the sky to using the absence of water on a Hawaiian beach as a way to tease the arrival of Godzilla (and the tsunami he’ll bring), Edwards’ film is full of ingenious visuals the likes of which we rarely see from movies of this scale nowadays. It’s one of the most stunningly gorgeous blockbusters of the past decade — confidently made from its first minute to its last.
In Godzilla, Edwards wants us to be aware of humanity’s insignificance in the face of nature, so he shoots the film’s titular creature primarily from low angles — forcing us to look up at him at all times. And in the few moments when he decides to look at the creature from a more leveled perspective, he goes wide — emphasizing Godzilla’s dominance over humanity and our cities even in the moments when he’s defending them.
The fact that the filmmaker manages to do all of this while also punctuating Godzilla with some extremely well-shot and realized CGI action sequences is just a further testament to his talents as a director. For a film about a couple of giant monsters fighting each other, Godzilla is surprisingly grounded, moody, and composed.
You need not look any further for proof of Edwards’ uncanny skill as a visual showman either, than the way he foreshadows Godzilla’s first use of his atomic breath — that is, by having the terrified face of his human protagonist suddenly be lit with radiant blue light.
Godzilla is streaming now on HBO Max.