The newest incarnation of the King of Monsters got many hardcore fans and newcomers counting the clock for May 16th. And as a result, Godzilla earned the year's largest opening day in the box office. Also, because it did so good, Warner Bros. and Legendary announced that they will be doing a sequel. But does that mean that Godzilla lived up to it's expectations? Many would tell you that it didn't, that it was one of the worst of the series. But if you ask, it went beyond the hype. And that's for many reasons. This movie was able to hide enough of the plot to get you excited for the fights and the surprises, made Godzilla a reflection upon dangers were facing today, and director Gareth Edwards didn't only make Godzilla a 350-foot-tall monster. He made him a real character. Here's how.
The Jaws Build-Up
Something that movies do from time to time is take themes and ideas from great works of film, fit into their own movie, and it makes the movie better. Godzilla did the same thing through Jaws presentation of the shark. In Jaws, Spielberg never showed what the shark looked like until the end of the movie. This created a build-up, where the audience only saw bit by bit of the shark throughout the beginning and middle of the movie, creating more and more suspense until you finally see the shark in the end. Of course, this only happened because they could rarely get a good shot of the shark because it was always falling apart, but it still made for a great movie.
Gareth Edwards himself said that he was inspired by this artistic element for Godzilla. And it's clear. Now some people hated the idea of the build-up, thinking that we only get to see the monster of the title for a good 30 minutes. But I thought that they executed Godzilla perfectly this way. Just like Jaws, as I kept on hearing more and more about Godzilla, and seeing only a little bit of him each time, it was getting me increasingly excited for the moment I finally saw him.
And when I first saw him, he was everything I dreamed he would be. As the camera paned up to his menacing face, he pulls back and roars, making my jaw drop and the theater practically shaking. And then he did the one thing that I never thought nor seen him do the same way before. One of the many things that gave me goosebumbs. He smiled wickedly. And this feeling only came because of the Jaws build-up
Not Just a Monster
The main complaint I heard most people had about Godzilla is that there wasn't a decent human story to the movie. While I can honestly say that I don't disagree with that, I still remember who the main character is in this movie. I'm also letting you know that the human side doesn't start out bad. I mean, come on, Bryan Cranston is one of the leading roles. And he really set the bar high for this movie. That may even be what started the problem. The only reason I say this is because Bryan was so good. At the beginning of the movie, he had so much to work with in the story, and he gave it his best. He delivered a performance that left the audience heart-broken and crying and just waiting for more.
So when Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who played the protagonist of the movie, took the reigns and continued the movie with his character, it was bound to be hard to live up to Bryan's acting. So, he ended up not working well for the movie and audience alike. Don't get me wrong, Aaron is a great actor. But he didn't have much to work with thanks to his somewhat cliche character.
But I think we're all forgetting who the title character is. And boy is he a character! One thing I didn't like about the previous incarnations of Gojira was that even though they have their name on the title, all they were were just giant monsters roaring and rampaging through the city. This is something that Gareth Edwards had hugely improved on. Godzilla wasn't just a monster, he became an anti-hero. That's because as I was watching the movie, I began to see that he isn't doing this because he wants to destroy us. Actually, he probably doesn't even acknowledge us. We're just ants to him. No, he sees that there is a potential threat that could destroy the world, and he sees that he has to stop that from happening. I started to understand him not as a monster, but as a higher sentient being as well. I was seeing that he just was protecting the Earth. After all, that is his job.
Ken Watanabe, who plays Dr. Ishiro Serizawa, said during the movie that "nature has an order. A power to restore balance". Godzilla is that power. He's seen as nature fighting back against human mistakes that are destroying the world. Godzilla shows the if you keep fighting and pushing at nature, then nature is going to push harder. He's a symbol that nature will always be protected and will stay out of human control. From the wise words of Serizawa, "the arrogance of man is thinking nature is in our control. And not the other way around".
This is part of what made this movie so amazing and relatable to me. It's also why I think Godzilla was named King of the Monsters 60 years ago. I think that the reason Godzilla became so popular is because it came out less than 10 years after the tragic incident in Hiroshima. The world was left in total shock and fear of a weapon that could destroy entire cities. Especially Japan. So, they needed to see something that couldn't be destroyed by a nuclear missile. And as a result of the original Gojira in 1954, the monster became a symbol of what could happen if the world continued with their study in nuclear physics.
Gareth Edwards was able to do look at Godzilla with from a new perspective that people from today's world could relate to. A major problem today is mistreatment of the environment. Every year, we're losing more and more ice in the North and South Poles. Species around the world are edging closer and closer to extinction, and our own scientific advancements are destroying the world around us. At it's very heart and soul, that's what this movie was about to me. It was A Force of Nature fighting back against Humanity's reign. The movie was showing us that if we keep on trying and trying to continue and evolve our power and civilizations, we're going to destroy more and more of the world. And if that keeps happening, don't think that nature is going to evolve with us and fight.
Godzilla delivered a great new spin of the creature, amazing monster action to remember, a lesson to be taught to all, and a great start for more movies to come in it's way. And even though the emotion wasn't all it was cracked up to be, Godzilla kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time, and never seized to amaze me. If it's up to me, I'd give it 9 Kaijus out of 10. And if you want my advice, don't wait to see it on your TV. This movie was made for the theaters, and that's how you should enjoy it. And don't be surprised when you leave the theater wanting to see it again and again.