(Film Review) Godzilla (2014)
"The arrogance of men is thinking nature is in their control and not the other way around" - Dr. Ichiro Serizawa
Disguised as a creature feature, the epic journey that is Godzilla is a surprising homage of 20th and 21st Century events. Although there is nothing that stands out in the way of performance and the escalation of drama does plateau half way through, the film holds it's own when it comes to modern sci-fi movies, especially in the realm of frightening creatures.
Should you delve deeper into the subtext of this film you will easily identify several modern historical events. From the moment the title credits roll, it is soon realised that you are about to embark on the human journey of the last 70 years. As this film is indeed about radiation and nuclear power, the journey begins with a montage of the nuclear arms race, cloaked in a story of mysterious creature cover-ups, it illustrates the events surrounding the cold war. By the titles conclusion we abruptly land at the end of the 20th Century and after a brief character introduction, leap forward yet again to the early 21st Century and to events that are still fresh in the minds of today's audience.
We begin with references to the Fukushima nuclear disaster as an earthquake causes the collapse of the ‘Janjira’ nuclear plant. In a swift flash-forward, we learn that the site of ‘Janjira’ has become quarantined and that people had to flee so quickly that all personal belongings were left behind. The scene is eerily reminiscent of the current state of Chernobyl, except in this story there is no radiation. The quarantine is an elaborate cover-up for the site becoming a top-secret research lab designed to house and study the MUTO chrysalis, echoing conspiracies of extra terrestrial beings being held at Area 51. Later we learn that the US government was housing another MUTO chrysalis in the nuclear waste repository located in the Nevada desert, which brought to mind America's search for non-existent weapons of mass destruction during the war on terror.
Through Godzilla it is easy to see that not much has changed in the past 70 years or so, enemies will always be created and wars will always be fought, but who will really win? Perhaps Godzilla, the prehistoric giant lizard, is a testimony to Mother Nature and the survival of the fittest theory. Perhaps there will be a cataclysmic event that will once and for all decide if our species is to survive.
Of course there are also plenty of references to 9/11 and I think I could be forgiven for having thought at one stage that I was actually watching a film about America's anti-terrorism movement. From images of aircraft flying into skyscrapers and firemen frantically digging through the rubble in search of survivors, even the score made a dramatic change as the audience was reminded who the real monster is. The film certainly took a turn here and it seemed as though I was being invited to view the parasitic MUTO (monsters) as the Middle East. Referencing the media bombardment during the war on terror, audiences were reminded of George W. Bush's position that these 'monsters' were to be destroyed by any means necessary.
So is Godzilla really about a giant lizard? As the story develops, the character of Godzilla is cited as being God like, not just in name, but as a saviour that will rescue humanity from the MUTO. In my opinion it seems that Godzilla is a metaphor of the blind faith that the many politicians have in God saving the world from the eminent disaster that is global warming. With tsunami like waves, earth tremors and gushing winds, it certainly felt like I was an eyewitness to some natural disaster. Many politicians perceive themselves as God like and perhaps that is the social commentary of the film. In the film we learn that military actions are responsible for reanimating Godzilla, therefore we can assume that the government is indirectly taking credit for providing a saviour.