Godzilla

There is but one given in any Godzilla movie, and that is: the monster is the star, and the people are victims.

In this 2014 version, Godzilla provides the money shot, but the people are inconsequential.

Besides the original Japanese Gojira from 1954, this one is by far my favorite because instead of the expected push ‘n’ shove battling behemoths or that sidetracked 1998 American-made fiasco stuffed with blockbuster talent but an idjit script, this movie clearly defines a purpose for the giant “king of monsters”!

That particular designation came about because long after King Kong clones were deemed “cheesy” and well after the Frankenstein franchise had run its course, Godzilla movies were still profitable with audiences both here and abroad. Back in college, when money was tight, movie attendance meant it had to be a sure thing: either a Hammer horror film, or Godzilla.

Godzilla had a budget of $160 million and after two weeks it had grossed $117 million, beyond any and all expectations in light of that Matthew Broderick mess being fresh in moviegoers’ minds. What is remarkable is that with a trailer that did not feature a full frame shot of the monster, causing wild speculation that Godzilla would be altered from the spiny-fin gargantuan we’ve come to know and love, people still turned out. Which only proves that the name recognition for Godzilla is still tremendous.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen and Bryan Cranston aren’t exactly names used to carry a movie set to kick off the Memorial Day weekend summer season. All that was necessary was Godzilla.

After the Janjira nuclear plant springs a radiation leak, the public is in a panic, and as usual in any Godzilla flick, risking life and limb of being trampled under foot to escape the city.

Originally we were informed that the rash of nuclear tests back in the ‘50s woke Godzilla up. Now, however, it’s alleged that those bombs were used to impede his rampage.

As a god in the classic Greek sense, not unlike a Titan, Godzilla has no more concern for humankind than we do aphids! This is why people get trampled to death and cities are leveled: his objective is to see that any threat to the planet is nullified.

Not unlike how antibodies attack a virus infecting our body, Godzilla has tunnel vision: eliminate, in this case, the MUTOs, a couple of multiplying parasites! MUTOs, we are told, stands for Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms that feed off concentrated amounts of radiation.

A few of the film’s faults that caused me concern are, if these creatures feed off radioactivity, and Godzilla breathes out both fire and radiation, instead of thwarting their attack shouldn’t this strengthen their resolve? There is also the soundness of strapping an active warhead onto a boat to lure the creatures away from San Francisco when if the bomb detonates, the city would surely be affected regardless.

Nature to be controlled must first be obeyed. Simple, right? The only reason mankind has any chance for survival in this movie is a matter of circumstance. We ourselves are attempting to forestall the inevitable destruction. We are insignificant. As long as Godzilla triumphs over the impending apocalypse, restoring order and defeating these creatures set to birth millions more and thus destroy the planet that sustains Godzilla himself, then the human death toll matters not to the king of monsters.

Neither good nor bad, Godzilla is a force of nature. Would it matter if a hurricane was nice? Does assigning anthropomorphic characteristics to floodwater prevent the loss of property or make the tragedy any less damaging?

Godzilla presents the monster as the caretaker of the Earth, and it epitomizes America! I’ll repeat that: Godzilla represents America! Does Cuba ever lead the relief efforts after a tsunami in Haiti? Or, why don’t we just sit back and allow China to feed the world when famine occurs?

It’s Godzilla, the sleeping giant reptile, who heeds the cry to balance devastation and global catastrophe. Godzilla has gone from being the product of American nuclear capabilities to become a representative of American knowhow.

This time we got it right!

[PG-13]