There will be Godzilla SPOILERS here, so if you don’t want to see those, don’t go past the following awesome image. Otherwise, read on, children.
The 2 complaints I usually hear from people who don’t like the new Godzilla movie are as follows:
- We don’t get to see the big guy until we’re an hour or so into the movie.
- The film completely abandons the engaging family drama in the first act.
Obviously, these are from opposing views. One group thinks there was too much human drama and the other thinks there was too little. I think Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla has the right amount of everything. It used the first act to show us the devastation and anxiety monsters are capable of unleashing upon humanity which is represented by 3 individuals: the always-in-awe scientist who just wants to study and understand these ancient giants, the heartbroken widower who blames an unseen killer for the death of his wife, and the widower’s son who just wants to move on and be with his new family.
The widower, Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston), after years of trying, finally proves that he was right about the strange “something” that caused the death of his wife and the government can suck his righteous dick. His son, Ford (Kick-Ass Guy), gets to go home to his wife and son thanks to several instances of plot convenience. The scientist, Dr. Serizawa (Ken Watanabe), finally gets to geekgasm and stand face-to-giant face with Gojira. As far as I’m concerned, all of them had complete character arcs. They were short and kind of dull arcs, sure, but they served their purpose and that is to provide scale and context to the rampaging monstrous gods.
And that leads us directly to why we don’t get to see the big guy right away — we need to spend some time with the puny humans so we could understand the possible danger humanity would have to face when the monsters finally come. Also, the reveal of the monsters becomes more visceral because of the long build-up. It’s similar to Cloverfield where we don’t see the monster until we’ve gone through a whole bunch of romance and friendship drama. It’s all about the foreplay, baby.
The film doesn’t completely abandon human drama and character arcs — it just simply completes them or sets them aside so we could focus on the really important part, which is OMG LOOK AT THESE GIANT MONSTERS EATING WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION LIKE THEY’RE CANDY. While some people see an uneven plot, I see an unconventional way of making a monster movie deliver its message and the message I got from Godzilla is that no matter how much control we humans think we have over this planet, we are dead wrong.
We have our science. We have our technology. We have art, culture, tall buildings, powerful cars, The Internet, footprints on the moon, and poetry. We are the masters of our planet and the rest of the cosmos. We are delusional. We are wrong.
WE ARE NATURE AND WE WILL FUCK YOUR SHIT UP.
Godzilla delivers this message through giant monsters laying waste to San Francisco and a narrative that shits on conventional summer blockbuster storytelling strategies. The monsters force the humans to keep up with their mating and hunting shenanigans the same way the movie forces the audience to abandon all their expectations and just bear witness to a monster battle royale. Blunt message, blunt strategy, beautiful execution.
YOU LIKE YOUR HUMAN DRAMA AND COMPLEX CHARACTER ARCS NEATLY ARRANGED IN A WAY YOU’RE USED TO, EH? WELL TOUGH.
I’m a sucker for movies that openly tease me and make me wait for the payoff and then actually deliver. That’s probably why I’m willing to defend Godzilla against the h8rs who always h8. To the left with you, h8ers! Godzilla may not have the strongest character arcs and it may not have the most logical plot, but who needs all of that when we get a perfectly executed build-up, jaw-dropping visuals (that HALO drop scene is tight, yo), and a proper monster fight with screaming and stomping and tail-swinging topped with the “HOLY SHIT!”-iest “Holy Shit!” moment ever involving Godzilla’s sweet atomic breath?