When a monster emerges from Japan, with two others hot on its trail, one soldier desperately tries to return to America and save his family. Ford Brody is an American soldier who defuses bombs for a living. We meet him as a child in 1999, living in Japan, where his parents, Joe and Sandra, work at a nuclear reactor. Joe has been tracking seismic activity which seems to be following a pattern of exponential increases. He tells Sandra to go shut down the reactor, but when there's a breach due to a massive earthquake, Joe is forced to seal off the nuclear fallout underground, causing his wife to die inside. Fifteen years later, Ford lives in San Francisco with his wife Elle and his 5-year-old son Sam. He gets a call that his father has been arrested in Japan; he was trespassing in his old hometown, now a quarantine zone since the nuclear . When Ford flies to Japan to bail him out, he discovers his father was looking for some floppy disks from their old house. Joe reveals that he has been tracking the patterns of seismic activity, which are increasing yet again-- they in fact match the activity from the day the nuclear reactor collapsed. When Joe reveals he won't go home until he finds those disks, Ford helps him into the quarantine zone, which they find isn't radioactive whatsoever. They are found by authorities and brought to the old reactor site, now a research facility run by a scientist named Serizawa. Joe insists he knows what is going on, but before he can talk with Serizawa, something emerges from a hole where the reactor used to be: a giant monster with wings, which destroys the rest of the site, kills Joe, and sets off east into the Pacific. Serizawa tells Ford that they were tracking a huge predator named Godzilla, who they tried to destroy with nuclear bombs in the 1950s-- it had no effect. They found that Godzilla was hunting down this large creature, which they call MUTO, a beast that feeds on nuclear radiation (hence why it was attracted to Joe and Sandra's reactor in 1999). They determine the MUTO is communicating with another, which emerges from a military site in Nevada, destroys Las Vegas, and heads west to meet its partner. Meanwhile, Godzilla is on the hunt. In Hawaii, while Ford tries to catch a flight home, the MUTO begins to destroy Honolulu, but Godzilla attacks it, fighting it down, revealing to Serizawa that it too wants the MUTO dead; Godzilla is not the enemy. Since the MUTOs contain electromagnetic pulses that destroy all electrical power, the military devises a plan: use a huge nuclear warhead, arm it manually, set it into the ocean, and let the creatures head away from the shore. However, they're too late-- the MUTOs arrive and consume all but one of the warheads that the military planned to use. The one left is retrieved by the military, brought to San Francisco, and armed, but before they can use it as bait, the MUTOs set off a pulse, grab the last warhead, and take it into the city. Ford joins the military group, revealing he can disarm the bomb in sixty seconds if necessary; the military skydives into San Francisco, from a safe height from the MUTOs' electricity-killing blasts, to find the bomb and disarm it before it can destroy the city. Meanwhile, the MUTOs meet up and mate, laying eggs underground and attaching them to the nuclear warhead for feeding. Godzilla shows up and fights the two MUTOs, causing huge destruction, including a decimation of the Golden Gate Bridge. They find the bomb and remove it from the babies, but while they take the warhead to a boat to send it out into the ocean, Ford pours gasoline from a wrecked truck all over the eggs and ignites it, killing all the babies. The MUTOs are distracted momentarily from Godzilla, giving him enough time to recover and kill them both, seemingly dying in the process. Ford manages to get on the boat with the warhead and singlehandedly sends it out into the ocean. He can't disarm it, as the MUTO sealed it shut with some kind of goo. Fortunately, a helicopter appears just in time to save him and get him a safe distance from the explosion in the Pacific. Ford finally reunites with Elle and Sam, and Godzilla emerges from the rubble, still alive, and the savior of the city slinks back into its ocean home.
Best part of story, including ending:
This is an incredibly well-made monster movie, which puts emphasis on the human element, which may alienate those looking for brainless monster action, but this movie's slow build makes it so worthwhile.
Best scene in story:
The final battle between Godzilla and the MUTOs is incredibly impressive, culminating with a vicious beheading that any monster movie fan will cheer for.
Opinion about the main character:
Ford is bland, as Aaron Taylor-Johnson is a fairly one-note actor, but the rest of the movie is so strong that it doesn't really hold the movie back.