by Sam Robinson
Rated M. Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston. Directed by Gareth Edwards.
Explosions! Nuclear weapons! Monster madness!
Godzilla is back in Hollywood’s first attempt to resurrect the beast since Roland Emmerich’s messy New York blockbuster containing an egg-laying Zilla and a soundtrack courtesy of Puff Daddy. It’s quite telling that I saw that in the cinema as a kid and loved it. I think I was the target demographic.
But finally, Hollywood have brought the Japanese mythology to the big screen and have done a pretty decent job of it.
The action begins in 1999 where Joe Brody (Cranston) and his wife are working at the Janjira nuclear plant in Japan. Tragedy strikes when a leak occurs. Fast forward to present day and Joe has spent the last fifteen years seeking answers. His son Ford (Taylor-Johnson), now a father of his own, flies to Tokyo to meet his father, who believes Janjira have been hiding secrets at the now abandoned city. Turns out the secrets are gigantic – and soon enough a parasitic monster named MUTO hatches, with an appetite for nuclear weapons. Add the fearsome Godzilla into the mix and you’ve got yourself one monster blockbuster to go.
On paper, the concept may seem ridiculous, but the execution works well. The heartfelt relationship and character development that occurs in the first act might be traded for US military heave-ho – but what is constant throughout Godzilla is the spectacular visuals and soundscapes. Director Edwards gives us these big landscapes of cities, and Godzilla and pals just fill the screen, lurching about in slow motion. He also creates such fear by what you don’t see, rather than what you do. Very rarely do you get a full glimpse of a monster, which adds to the sheer terror of it all. The screeches of the beasts are contrasted with deathly silence. And just when you think the story might have run dry, there’s a neat twist that changes the way you think of Godzilla.
Godzilla is all about fear. You sit breathless as these gigantic monsters stomp around a city, smashing into buildings, while tiny humans run for cover. It’s truly frightening. And there’s something about this film that evokes fear in a way that other films of mass-destruction don’t. Alien invasion films like Independence Day can be too farfetched, and the Transformers films rely on cool explosions more than terror. But Godzilla is connected to reality – the horror of Hiroshima, the reminder of the 2011 tsunami and disaster at Fukushima, and of course, controversial nuclear testing. We fear Godzilla because he is this unseen menace in the sea, but when he strikes, people tremble in their boots.
It really got me thinking about what we fear. It might be war, or terrorism, things of this earth, but I’m not sure whether we actually fear God. Our world continues living like God isn’t around, as though he is lying dormant somewhere. But we’re told in Scripture that there will be a day when Jesus will return and for many it will be a day more frightful than anything depicted in Godzilla. Revelation 6:15-17 –
Then the kings of the earth, the nobles, the military commanders, the rich, the powerful, and every slave and free person hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains. And they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the One seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, because the great day of Their wrath has come! And who is able to stand?
The Day will be so terrifying that people would rather be crushed to death under the earth than endure it. So on that day, who will be able to stand? Only those who are saved by the blood of the Lamb. Our Saviour, Protector, Redeemer. In him we find absolute security and hope. He is the rock that stands between us and the wrath of God, and we can have assurance that he has already dealt with it at the cross. If you haven’t trusted Jesus yet, or have never considered what will happen when Jesus returns, now is the time to investigate who Jesus is and what he has done. The day of Jesus’ return is coming…will you be able to stand?
Godzilla isn’t perfect but it’s a mighty enjoyable surround-sound cinematic experience. For that, I’m giving it four-and-a-half out of five stars.
Godzilla is screening now in cinemas everywhere.