May 202014

Title: Godzilla


Taller than I remember…


Giant monsters stomp Japan, Hawaii, and San Francisco, awesomeness ensues. Oh, and there are some people too, who do some stuff.

Appropriate for:

Ages 12 and up

The movie is rated PG-13 and considering the levels of peril and carnage this is definitely a movie for the older kids. Having said that, there is no gore and if your kids can stand carnage, peril, and the (strongly) implied deaths of thousands of people then they should have a good time with Godzilla.

Content Warnings:

The only real gore is bad monster gore (spoiler alert, Godzilla is awesome), there is a little swearing, and amid the carnage of cities being destroyed it’s pretty obvious that many people are being stepped on, swept away, chewed up, crushed under debris, drowned in a tsunami and otherwise done away with. But it’s all happening in the background so you could make a case that the filmmakers don’t actually show any deaths, while at the same time making it plain that thousands of people are dying. You should also be aware that there are busloads of children in peril – and by busloads I mean they load children on buses and put them in peril. (Traffic is the real monster.) However, while soldiers and unlucky civilians may get in the way of the monsters, the children’s peril never results in even an implied death.

The Scoop:

It seems that every big blockbuster movie these days requires an extended sequence of a city being devastated. The special effects technology exists to create very realistic destruction but just because it can be done doesn’t mean it should be done. Transformers, The Avengers and Superman in particular are guilty of this and frankly I find all the carnage distracting and ultimately exhausting. Every time a building collapses I find myself taken out of the story and wondering what happened to the people inside. Don’t pretend they’ve been evacuated because the filmmakers always insert a shot of people in their office, inside one of those buildings, as Superman or the Hulk goes crashing through. In addition to this distraction it’s beginning to feel like if you’ve seen one city destroyed, you’ve seen them all. I’m becoming numb to the spectacle.

Now, having said that, Godzilla gets a pass on urban armageddon because: Godzilla. It invented cities being destroyed by a person in a rubber monster suit way back in 1954.

This particular movie of metropolitan mayhem also gets a pass because unlike Avengers or Superman it takes the time to show the human cost of this destruction. First responders go into buildings, people are pulled from the rubble, the lead character is asked to fill out paperwork at a refugee center, and a news announcement states explicitly that thousands of people are missing. There is at least a token effort to acknowledge that these cities are filled with ordinary mortals caught in extraordinary circumstances.

Another thing I like about Godzilla is the restraint it shows in not giving us too much Godzilla. A lot of the battles are shot from the human perspective, which is often made up of short glimpses that imply the action but reflect the fact that you would probably be watching while you are running away. No doubt people will complain that there’s not enough of the star monster but in this case I think it’s best to follow the old adage that you should leave people wanting more.

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