Normally I don’t write movie reviews – in fact, I rarely even watch movies, because these days most of them are basically terrible. But I do have some fond childhood memories
of Godzilla, and after all the hype about this potentially epic post-Fukushima film involving taboo subjects like nuclear radiation and mutated monsters – things I deal with on a daily basis – I was really looking forward to seeing it. But after reading a couple of sloppy and shallow reviews like those in the Las Vegas Review-Journal
, Chicago Tribune
and Entertainment Weekly
, I felt compelled to write one for those who know what’s up – especially with the nuclear stuff. This is not going to be an analysis of how many buildings get knocked down, how long the monster is seen, or how well the ‘character development’ was written into the screenplay (ugh, who cares? It’s Godzilla for gods sake). I am also extremely motivated at the moment, because I JUST SAW GODZILLA
, AND I THOUGHT IT WAS F*CKING AWESOME. Also, there is also A LOT of symbolism in this movie, which I don’t want to go unnoticed.
The problem is, 90% of the people who see this film will only be interested in the body count, the special effects, the level of doom, and watching giant monsters beat the crap out of each other. They will probably think it was awesome too (or not), but for very different reasons. There was far more going on than just an epic throwdown… points that will be entirely missed by many, and so far has escaped the attention of reviewers. Watching the audience and their reactions to the film, reminds me of the cult classic “They Live“
in a way that only a few of us have the glasses on and can see the real deal, but so many more walk around with them off. Not to belittle Godzilla fans, but – just because you’re a Godzilla fan doesn’t mean you are awake and aware of the threat of nuclear radiation. It was obvious at what was cheered, applauded, or laughed at (or not) during the film, in a packed theatre on opening day. If you are reading this, there is still hope for you
. Fukushima has made it kind of necessary to know about the nuke stuff, if you
want to live.
A point that seemed well understood by the Director, Gareth Edwards
Now since many of us already have a front-row seat to the nuclear-nightmare, I know you can relate. Even the redaction-action in the opening credits will trigger memories of the fiasco of the NRC FOIA
The movie begins with a short intro to how weapons testing in the Pacific was really to kill Godzilla. It would be great if that were true, and it wasn’t done to study ways to annihilate other populations. We find ourselves in a uranium mine with an ugly monster-baby cocooned in a HR Giger love nest, furiously being studied by something else we see a lot of these days: baffled scientists. Then, we proceed to a house on a Japanese hillside, overlooking a scenic set of nuclear reactors, steaming away somewhat innocently, pre-sh*tstorm. There are of course many such views in real-life – Japan, Canada, across the US, France, Russia, China, India…well, pretty much everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere. Everything always ‘seems’ fine until things go to hell in a handbasket. But they are not fine for nuclear power plants, ever. These leaky plants have been poisoning our countryside and mutating our DNA for the last half-century, and all in the name of weapons production.
In the movie, on this particular day, something strange is happening…a series of ‘anomalous seismic events’ that puzzle the plant managers, until all hell breaks loose in typical nuke disaster fashion. Fast forward 15 years, and a large area in the Kanto region has been fenced in, complete with the shabby neglect so common to other real-life radioactive areas like Chernobyl, Hanford, Windscale, and large areas of Nevada, to name a few. A large metropolitan city has been completely abandoned, which Tokyo would probably look like if it had been evacuated like it should have been after Fukushima blew, but that’s another story. For now, we will stick to Godzilla.
The cast is not the focus of the film, but as a Fukushima Researcher it is hard not to admire and relate to Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
, who plays the former nuke plant scientist turned crazy and obsessed conspiracy theorist, until everything he said comes true, even though everyone treated him for the past 15 years like he is f*cking nuts. He lives like a hermit, probably by choice to focus on his research, surrounded by items you would find in a garage sale of junk at MIT; the walls papered with maps and yellowing news articles that say “Meltdown!” and “Crisis Grows” and “Nuclear Coverup.” Sound familiar? I have a few of those on my wall. In another 12 years, my office will probably look like his. A rare visit from his son prompts concerned looks and disapproving stares, like “Wow, Dad has really, really lost it.” But really, Dad is just concerned with what he sees coming down-the-road
, although no one else seems to know, or really care at that point. Soon, the son learns he should have listened better, especially when things turn life or death. There is a lesson for mankind here, and a rather obvious one at that.
In past films, Godzilla was known for his predilection for fuel rods and reactor cores, but in this film the new ugly monsters are the real nuke-lovers. Godzilla’s past whereabouts and current diet isn’t mentioned, but we are left with the impression that he has just been chilling in an underwater cave somewhere, maybe pondering how nuclear-anything just doesn’t taste as good as it used to. Maybe he’s switched over to squid and oarfish since 1998, we don’t really know. He definitely looks healthy and well-rested, so whatever he has been up to, it has certainly agreed with him.
But these new monsters, the nuke-loving ones, are real assh*les. They are a cross between a cockroach, a preying mantis, and a nasty spider (or stapler maybe, I can’t decide which). One of them had parked his ugliness in the nuke plant that had the accident, and has managed to suck the rads out of every corner of the no-go zone from his nuclear-nest (wouldn’t that be wonderful). The zone is actually no longer radioactive, but of course no one is told this…to hide the monster until the baffled scientists can figure out what to do with it. Unfortunately there are more of these beasts lurking around the Pacific rim, and later in the movie, it’s hook-up time. Apparently they have hooked-up before, because the female monster has a belly full of ugly glowing future nuke-loving babies she needs to give birth to.
Godzilla though is not keen to these assh*le monsters running around loose with their stupid babies everywhere, so he makes his way across the Pacific to deal with it, followed by Navy warships (Tomodachi?
) filled with the typical military warmongerers arguing over how best to nuke everything the most effectively. At some point, a concerned Japanese scientist proposes that Godzilla may
be trying to help matters, and the war machine should maybe lay-off for a while and see how it goes, since Godzilla doesn’t seem focused on hurting people, like the ugly monsters do. Using his learned Japanese wisdom that “Nature has the power to restore balance” – a history he carries with him from Hiroshima (a radioactive sneeze compared to Fukushima), his logic seems to be heeded but then ignored, being as he says it to a bunch of guys who are intent on blowing stuff up, regardless. This was my only bone of contention with the movie…that the US Government has far greater technology then the conventional WW2 garbage they seem hell-bent on throwing at the monsters, such as Navy Rail Guns
, Direct Energy Weapons
, Heart Attack Guns
, and so on and so on. This could
have been a clean and easy operation, but no – probably because the movie would have been shortened – to about 5 minutes. So, it is decided that a nuke will have
to be used, and the military feigns brief and customary pseudo-concern (Japanese govt/Us govt/NRC): “There will be very little fallout for any cities” is the official line accompanying the decision. Hardy-har-har, we have heard that one before. A great addition would have been Halliburton and Blackwater trucks moving in for the cleanup/aftermath with a grinning Cheney-type counting his cash at the helm, after things get destroyed.
Problem is, the ugly monsters eat nukes like they are Chicken Nuggets, and they need one to rig up a fast-breeder-heater in their ugly monster-baby nursery (Kudos to MsMilkytheClown1 for pointing that out). If they can’t get it to work in Monju, probably not gonna happen, but luckily this is make-believe. As the movie progresses, Hawaii, Las Vegas, and eventually San Francisco all end up hosting the creatures for short-term stay leaving massive long-term destruction…leading to endless (and comical) in-depth analysis for mainstream movie reviewers analyzing the fight scenes in excruciating detail. Japan is hardly featured, although this is where the sh*tsball originally got rolling (ahem). Personally, I couldn’t help but notice subtle inferences for radioactive fallout, in places that were known to be hit hard with Fuku-rads. Maybe Fukushima was being implied, maybe not. But even the Elvis song “Devil in Disguise” was in obvious reference to nuclear power. The movie also makes lots and lots of references to EMPs (which the ugly monsters can use anytime they want to f*ck up your sh*t), an underground nuclear waste storage facility similar to Yucca Mountain (which anti-nukers know was never allowed to open) and the massive military resources of the United States Government, who will nuke and bomb the crap out of anything they can, and are so portrayed. FEMA and DHS have a prominent role too, something else people who have been paying attention in real-life have certainly noticed. A few warehouses packed from floor to ceiling with ammo would have been a nice addition during the Martial Law scenes.
All in all, superficial or deep, the movie will likely thrill people young and old; those of us who remember Godzilla from our childhood, those of us who use him in our Fukushima memes, and for people who just want to watch pure entertainment. Of course there are the critics who will bitch and moan about stupid crap, as usual. But all in all, Godzilla delivers. Something that I hope people do notice, especially those of us who have grown up with him, is that Godzilla has profoundly changed from the scary out-of-control lizard he once was. Maybe the endless pollution problems have finally gotten to a guy his size; they certainly have for us and the planet
. Hopefully, he has seen the light of his mistakes, and decided the world would be a better place without nuclear-anything. Gareth Edwards’ attempt at revealing these dangers will not go unnoticed, by at least some of us. Godzilla was supremely focused on killing the nuke-loving monsters, with the intensity I wish more people would have dealing with all
the other nuclear stuff. If we are lucky, maybe he will come back to help hold up Reactor 4 at Fukushima til the fuel rods come out
But, if he intends to stick around for a while and keep up his new no-nuke diet, my advice to him would be this: Avoid the Pacific Ocean, especially if you want to keep eating fish.
Many thanks to Albert Chow & MsMilkytheClown1 for their excellent commentary 🙂
~Christina Consolo aka RadChick