Lineage and God(zilla): 60 Years of a Film Icon

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By Andrew Stewart

(Note: This film review contains spoilers)

AndrewStewartThe newest Godzilla reboot starts with a nuclear bomb, a ridge of spines in the azure waters of the Bikini Atoll, and a clever retelling of some of the most painful parts of human history. Expectations are set high at the start of the movie with bits of nuclear testing footage interspersed with “secret documents” that turn into credits. An organization named Monarch, that was part of the movie’s viral marketing campaign, is revealed in snippets and glimpses. “Godzilla” gets the plot underway with a panoramic shot of a beautiful unnamed Pacific island, and an introduction to the bones of a giant prehistoric being.

It should be easy to figure out where the plot goes in “Godzilla;” it takes a backseat to the action and is rather simple with a heavy focus on wide shots of monsters, destroyed military bases, and burning cities. Humans unwittingly cause their own problems in the film by waking up monsters that should have been left alone. The militaries are very ineffective when dealing with the beasts and of course the brunt of the battle lies in Godzilla’s hands. It’s a common trope in Godzilla films that the monsters themselves represent nuclear power, but they are portrayed more as a force of nature rather than malicious beings, and there is an eco-friendly message that the monsters are merely seeking to restore balance. Perhaps the best feature of the giant monsters is that they absorb radiation, thus, a relic of the old Cold War fear of nuclear winters and radiation poisoning is dispelled by the very beings that come to destroy humanity.

Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (played by Ken Watanabe) basically reveals the message of the movie, that Godzilla himself is a balancing force, and humanity’s fate lies in his hands: An angry reptilian guardian angel who does not mind wrecking cars and knocking down buildings like bowling pins.

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