On Godzilla

Saturday, May 17th, 2014

The Godzilla movies were some of my first films. Godzilla and The Smog Monster we saw at the drive-in in El Paso in the early 70s. My son and I did some prepping. We watched the first version last week and finished with Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla last night, then went to the latest today.

I thought it was fantastic. I’ve read some no-spoiler critiques over the week out of curiosity if they came through the feeds. Some were interesting. Others were curious for their points of contention: the monster is too fat; the solutions to beat the monsters illogical, such as trying to defeat monsters that feed on nuclear power with nuclear weapons.

Gareth Edwards did a wonderful job with the notion of scale, though, which has always been a theme in Godzilla storytelling: scales regarding theme itself and scales regarding the relationship of just things juxtaposed to the monster. One of the common tropes in Godzilla is the image of the military (or the notion of human force), especially as seen with toy tanks lined up in preposterous ineffectiveness. Edward’s Godzilla is a moving landscape and imagines how a living landscape of tremendous size would displace water and air and fit within the built world. Consider how a beetle or an ant would translate human motility in film.

In the film, especially near the end, Godzilla is at war with gravity itself. The filmmakers appear to grasp the physical reality of a creature of such tremendous mass fighting the strength of the earth’s pull. From a game perspective, the ending boss battle is probably the best thing I’ve seen in a long time. It was the perfect read of later Godzilla movies that treated the monster with more humor and sense of emotional connection than the somber pickle-looking thing of the 1954/1956 work, which is understandable. Even still, at the time, they were pretty technically difficult to pull off.

It seems to me that the Edward’s version paid attention to the problem of eyes, also. He fixed this issue. Later in the film, the eyes of the monster tell their own story, related to the issue of massive girth, and the sadness and tragedy that comes with this “problem of such size.”

It’s a winner for me.


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