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Review and reflection of 'Godzilla': Humans amid destructive forces

The pivotal scene as shown in a promotional poster.
Warner Bros. Pictures

Godzilla (2014)


"Godzilla" has been out for a couple of weeks now and is open nationwide and can be seen in regular format, 3D and in 3D IMAX. Here is a reflection of the film that serves as a review and an analysis of the film’s general themes.

The moment when the soldiers perform the HALO (high altitude – low opening) jump out of the carrier jet towards the end of the film the narrative’s true tonality begins to potently express itself towards the audience. Feelings of creeping anxiety propelled by uncertainty…uncertainty within the minds of the soldiers as they pierce through the heavy clouds and narrowly pass the gargantuan battle between gargantuan beasts. The scene is first dominated by red, the color of caution. As the soldiers make their way through the clouds it is replaced by greys and blacks, colors that construct a sense of devastation. Indeed, the soundtrack plays the same music played in "2001: A Space Odyssey" as the apes lay their eyes on the monolith.

“Godzilla” is a film made by a filmmaker who previously made a very low-budget science fiction film of ambitious care, Gareth Edwards. Care is seen throughout his latest and most prolific film that embodies many of the contemporary mainstream trends. This care is what sets itself apart from other mainstream films and what makes it a surprisingly compelling film. In a time where CGI runs amuck within mainstream films with unabridged sensationalism, “Godzilla” seems to make use of it in almost a wholly emotional manner. The ravaged cityscapes, the burnt skies and the whirling clouds of dust are constituents towards a canvas ultimately showcasing a destructive force far beyond any human control.

In the same vein as Matt Zoller Seitz’s review as well as Eric Henderson’s impressions, this film is more about the humans than about the legendary monsters that have been etched in cinema lore since 1950. The aforementioned HALO jump scene has shots where it takes the audience inside the helmet of a soldier (most like the main character’s helmet) where the battle between Godzilla and MUTO becomes uncomfortably close. In addition, Edwards continually employs shots of the battle with the use of handheld camera aesthetics (shaky, focusing, etc.), most of the time inside or with some object in the way, as in a building or in a train. He goes so far as to show most of the first meeting between Godzilla and MUTO on television. Edwards withholds any cathartic imagery for as long as he can to build suspense (Hitchcock and Spielberg would be proud).

Ford Brody, the protagonist, can be seen as flat; there are many reviews that call out the shallowness of the human story altogether. Yet, it seems Edwards does not ask his audience to relate to Brody insofar as he asks them to actually be Brody. These point-of-view shots create the focal point of this new iteration to the ‘Godzilla’ franchise and the theme permeating from these choices is the near-banality of human influence amid natural disasters (the monsters being the disasters). Going back to the HALO jump, the visualization of such banality and inferiority can be seen to be potently projected with care by a caring filmmaker.

"Godzilla," with an aggregate score of 73% on Rotten Tomatoes, has gotten mixed responses towards the handling of the human story as compared to the monster story. If there was ever an visually engrossing film that offers an experience different from the tried and certainly true stories of superheroes than this one may offer maybe not a perfect story for everyone but one that inspires some sort of emotional curiosity unseen from the majority.

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