Godzilla 2014: a Sobering Subtext

"I'm the good guy here - you should see the bad guy!"

“I’m the good guy here – you should see the bad guy!”

An Active3D Movie Review
Movie: Godzilla (2014)
Rating: *** (out of 5)

Gojeera (as its Japanese originators referred to it) is back – as is this, previously slumbering blogsite!

On its surface, this latest imagining is exactly what one might’ve expected: a noisy, CGI-dependent orgy of destruction, during which desperate families attempt to stay intact whilst gigantic creatures lumber across both country and urban landscapes, crushing man and habitat underfoot.

We have the almost-obligatory storyline of the obsessed scientist who knows that the authorities are hiding something from the people (and whose dogged pursuit of the truth has alienated him, even from his son). His son, who has a wife and young child, indulges his “loony” father, largely to appease the missus, who reminds him that blood is thicker than water. Of course, he will come to discover that his old dad was right all along (a revelation that awaits most men) but has to undergo a hero’s journey in the process.

As one would’ve expected, all these elements play themselves out in a manner most unsubtle. The movie theatre in which I previewed the film experienced some speaker trauma during the ear-splitting parade of gunshots, bellowing, human terror, and crunching of metal and mortar.

Yet, it was the silent and tragic subtext of this tale that spoke the loudest to me. An eco-Marxist reading of the film would undoubtedly declare it to be about humanity being consumed by the spectre of its own consumption; that nature was somehow “taking its revenge”. This, indeed, appears to be the view of the film’s young British director, who didn’t write the screenplay (and shouldn’t be allowed to write any, either). I’ve read interviews with the man, who, frankly, doesn’t strike me as very bright. His interpretation strikes me as so shallow, so fashionable; so easy. My reading of the film’s subtext may horrify some, but at least it lies more than 1 millimetre from the film’s flashy surface.

What really piqued my attention was Godzilla’s role here – as humanity’s saviour against the “mutos”; a fearsome tribe of gigantic, spider-like creatures that has grown from the nuclear waste of the Hiroshima A-bomb. What? A reference to America’s guilt? A suggestion that America’s heroic leaders of the past were actually war criminals?

And it doesn’t stop there: More often than not in these disaster pix, we have a granite-jawed president who takes control, and directs the fighter planes that save the nation, and indeed, the world. But we’re presented here with a weak, fumbling and misinformed government. How sadly apt.

The United States today is in a parlous state. Its people are fearful, rudderless, and unsure of where to turn. In 2008, the majority of US voters put their faith in a man who promised to unite all Americans under one strong flag, revive the economy, and put hope where once there had been fear and despair. This president was even re-elected in a final burst of vain hope.

What he brought, however, was lies, spies, and a tripled national deficit. Going by the current approval rating (at around 30%) of this clay-footed idol, it seems that the man who had Americans chanting “Yes, we can!”, now has them muttering, “Oh, bugger – it looks as if we bloody-well can’t – well, not under this leadership, anyway.”

There have been few times in American history when its people have ever been this divided or uncertain. In fact, all around the globe, there is a rising tide of mistrust of political power. So what, then, does this film offer, as its audacious saviour of the human race? A reptilian Christ figure; Godzilla.

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One Response to “Godzilla 2014: a Sobering Subtext”

  1. john Says:

    This film was everything I hoped it would be and thensome! The characters were all great, there isn’t a single bad performance – everyone treats this with respect and add an appropriately serious tone to the film. Ford Brody is my favourite as his strict code of honour and morals was put to the test by malevolent creatures, which created some brilliant dilemmas and great duo scenes with his father (played brilliantly by Bryan Cranston). Themes were perfectly adapted from the original Gojira, which makes this 10x more dark and gritty, but it doesn’t come off as stale or half-assed.

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