Sunday, May 18, 2014

Godzilla (USA, 2014)

Nine Things About Godzilla

1. In 1954, Japan made the movie “Gojira”, about a giant monster with atomic breath that destroyed Tokyo. It was openly symbolic of the power and terror of atomic weapons, which Japan was so familiar with from World War II. The movie was re-edited and released in America with the name “Godzilla, King of the Monsters”, because “Godzilla” is what “Gojira” kind of sounds like to American ears. It cut out a lot of the nuclear themes and political overtones.

2. Even though Gojira/Godzilla was killed at the end of the movie, it was so popular that there was a sequel. He just suddenly wasn’t dead any more. Then the Japanese made 26 more Godzilla movies, and America made two more, (including the horrible Matthew Broderick version from 1998). I think I’ve seen most of those movies - Godzilla was a staple of my childhood.

3. In 2014, sixty years after the first movie, we have the 31st Godzilla movie. It’s called “Godzilla”. And it is a pretty kick-ass reboot that takes it old-school, all the way back to the original.

4. It’s directed by Gareth Edwards, who directed the really cool indie movie “Monsters” that nobody saw. If you are one of the few people that watched it, you would know Edwards was a good choice to bring Godzilla back.

5. It’s about an earthquake in the Philippines that wakes up some giant bug creature that is attracted to radiation. Seriously, it eats nuclear weapons. Anyway, it starts calling out to something… and Godzilla wakes up, hears it, and starts to hunt it (if you listen carefully, you will hear the Japanese expert scientist pronounce his name “Gojira” - and all the Americans immediately start saying “Godzilla”).

6. This is a pretty epic adventure film, with a real story. But that’s also my problem with the movie - there’s almost too much story. There’s hardly any room for the monsters. It takes an hour for Godzilla to officially show up.

7. When the monster battles do happen, they go big. They really bring back the feel and style of the old Japanese movies. And nobody can deny that Godzilla is still a boss.

8. The nuclear weapon theme is prominent in this movie, as it was in the original Japanese version. But there is an extra message too - humans don’t really run the planet. Godzilla and the other monsters work out their beef wherever they can, even if it is in a major American city. They have no feelings for or against humans. They don’t try to kill us, but if we get in their way, then too bad for us. Humans are proud and stupid and ultimately powerless against the raw forces of nature.

9. Except for the fact that we don’t see enough of the title character, “Godzilla” is a well done action-adventure giant monster movie. Fans of the old Godzilla should be pleased, and it may even hook a new generation of fans.