A lot of remakes and reboots are seemingly made for some alternate universe, a timespace filled with people who have no interest in what made the original “RoboCop” so good, people who don’t care about the themes or the underlying subtext and just want to see a shiny robotic police officer throwing around bad guys. These films are moot. They are unnecessary, rendered obsolete before they even exist, offering nothing more than a brief diversion and a chance to be reminded of a better, more worthwhile outing.
Yet sometimes these remakes or reboots are worthwhile endeavors. Sometimes you wind up with a “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” a movie that should have been bad and could have been bad and shoulda/coulda checked off every box on the Lazy Blockbuster Remake list, but instead the director and the writers and the actors and the special effects people made something better, truer, more humane and deeply felt, something that honored the original in its way but was mostly a fully-realized story about a fully-drawn character told in a wonderfully clear, fulfilling way.
All of which comes to mind when watching the trailer for “Godzilla,” another movie starring the oversized nuclear-boosted lizard, yet also a movie that looks like it builds actual tension and story and characters; a blockbuster movie that follows and evokes the cheesy monster-fight movies some of us watched as kids (or, more horrifyingly, a terrible remake starring Matthew Broderick), yet also a blockbuster movie that stars Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins, David Straitharn and Elizabeth Olsen (with the involvement of these people earning this movie a hefty dose of trust before we even saw Frame One). A movie, in other words, rather than a movie-shaped mechanism that exists only to squeeze a few dollars out of a preexisting concept or name. The new “Godzilla” looks like an actual movie, which it doesn’t actually need to be, and which makes its tangible promise all the more remarkable: