Godzilla is a difficult character. He’s been a hero and a villain. He’s been a loaded symbol and an empty set piece. He’s a cultural icon and a punchline. He’s fought on our planet and in other worlds. He has decades of history and still defies simple definition beyond being a big, rampaging monster. And while this size and action is all we truly demand of the character, he can be so much more. In the character’s latest film, Godzilla, director Gareth Edwards has created a labor of love that attempts to draw from the monster’s rich history to appeal to his fans, but not make him so esoteric as to alienate those who only know the name. Although the characters and plot can barely hold the grim vibe, Edwards’ respectful and careful approach to the big guy is more than enough to hold the tension and make us cheer for monster mayhem.