A sense of menace in one monster movie franchise has been missing since it began 60 years ago.
But GODZILLA (12: Warner) has been restored to its rightful place in dangerous creature features with a blockbuster full of spectacle and dramatic bite.
A prologue sees a nuclear accident in Japan tearing a power plant manager’s family apart.
Flash forward to the present and his grown-up son, a naval officer, is returning to his own young family in the US after a tour of duty.
But he’s soon answering the call back east, where his father remains convinced that the past tragedy was caused by no mere earthquake.
The real star of the show is introduced after this slow-burning opening – along with some super-sized playmates.
The set pieces are suitably awesome, including Kaiju clashes in Hawaii and San Francisco and a breathtaking navy skydive directly into the monster arena.
The film’s human characters, played by the likes of Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins and David Strathairn, make less of an impression, but there’s enough to suggest that this could be a new chapter in the monster series.
> While sci-fi thriller THE ANOMALY (15: Metrodome) has a promising premise, it’s let down by ropy acting and inexplicable plot development.
The action takes place in the near future in a film that combines elements of Total Recall, The Bourne Identity and The Matrix. Traumatised former soldier Ryan (Noel Clarke) keeps waking up in different situations with absolutely no memory of what has happened during the intervening periods.
Ryan discovers someone else is taking control of his mind and body during these intervals and he has only nine minutes and 47 seconds each time he awakens as himself to take control of the situation.
As he goes on the run, he finds more sections of his memory being erased and discovers a sinister conspiracy.
The dialogue is clunky, but at least the fight scenes that punctuate the story are effectively staged, if somewhat repetitive. Unlike most action flicks, you can actually tell who is punching whom.
> Old-fashioned crime caper THE ART OF THE STEAL (15: Sony) provides dumb fun, even though it’s unoriginal.
Two art-thief brothers reunite after years of bad blood for one last heist. Having served a lengthy prison sentence after his brother, Nicky Calhoun (Matt Dillon), grassed him up to save his own skin, Crunch Calhoun (Kurt Russell) is now a failed motorcycle daredevil. Against his better judgement, Crunch joins his estranged brother and old gang members to steal a priceless religious manuscript.
So the convoluted double-crossing con-artistry begins, with Jay Baruchel playing the nerdy sidekick, Kenneth Welsh overdoing the Irish charm and Terence Stamp getting some waspish one-liners. But nothing can make up for the hokey action and telegraphed plot, which feels like Guy Ritchie leftovers.
> In family drama THE ADVENTURER: THE CURSE OF THE MIDAS BOX (PG: Signature), a teenager searching for his missing family follows clues that lead him to a hotel on a remote island. He becomes involved in a search for a magical box that could be a powerful weapon in the wrong hands.