Free Press Journal

Godzilla: Visual delight


Film: Godzilla
Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston, Juliette Binoche, Ken Watanabe, David Straitharn
Director: Gareth Edwards

The theme of man versus nature clouds man’s thinking but it was not always so and we were mindful that God’s first revelation (ref the Book of Genesis) is nature at its benign best as this spectacular, big budget American remake of Japan’s second-best cinematic gift to the world (the first is Akira KUrosawa) kick-started with a sepia-toned montage of Darwin’s thesis, war and death. And I found myself rooting for the anti-hero (Godzilla) as it (I prefer the neutral “it” to personal “he”) against a pair of Mutos, malevolent creatures who feed on nuclear energy, and threaten mankind’s existence.

The evil mutos, to elaborate, are giant moth-like mutations awakened by nuclear-weapons tests in Bikini Atoll; the personality and appearance of Japan’s much loved monster in the Godzilla oeuvre have evolved as the film series continued to grow, and director Gareth Edwards’s new, improved Godzilla is a metaphor for imperial Japan whose traumatic defeat after the atomic devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II, transformed it into a pacifist state. Godzilla was born in 1954 and the theme of the film – the terror of the bomb – and Godzilla’s radioactive breath with the power to melt anything, remains the same.

Releasing on Godzilla’s 60th anniversary, Edwards’ epic continues the tradition of demonizing nuclear science and (through Watanabe’s character Dr. Ichiro Serizawa) the Biblical positioning of man as the pinnacle of creation. But it also extols human courage in the face of adversity and the forces of nature, when an awesome Godzilla rises “to restore balance” as Dr. Serizawa sums it.

Now, it is not so much Godzilla who exemplifies the wrath of nature, but the flying moths who reminded your reviewer of the Lucifer that fell from grace. Edwards succeeds in injecting some depth into the characterizations of the Brody scientist couple (Breaking Bad’s Cranston, Binoche) and their bomb expert son (played by Taylor-Johnson).

But it is in the action sequences and special effects (marvellous in 3D Imax) that Godzilla excels. The fights between Godzilla and the mutos and the scenes of devastation may be reminiscent of the ones in previous Godzilla outings, but here they are much more engaging and awesome. Pity, fear, terror, you will feel them all.