In ‘Godzilla,’ the Audience Waits for the Monster
Early on in the latest Hollywood reincarnation of Godzilla, a group of puzzled scientists stare at a giant, slimy, yet-to-be-determined thingie in a cave somewhere in the Pacific and confer in whispers.
“What is it? Some kind of egg? A dormant spore?”
Egg: yes. Like, humungous.
Dormant? Not so much.
Which makes you wonder about the state of science, because whenever a group of brainiac scientists in a Hollywood movie gather in one place to figure out what the hell is going on they’re not exactly the sharpest knives in the drawer. Shouldn’t they have figured by now what’s making the oceans rise up like mountains and the sonar go crazy?
I like suspense and delayed gratification as much as the next person but waiting 60 minutes until we see Godzilla is torture. You might as well ask me to hold off on eating the cardboard popcorn with the fake butter-flavored transfats and 1 billion milligrams of sodium.
Here’s another tip-off. When Bryan Cranston has to clutch his temples and scream, “You have no idea what’s coming! And it’s going to send us back to the Stone Age!” something should tell you that the first name on the marquee is probably not human.
Even more baffling is why Juliette Binoche, the darling of European art house cinema, is a) in this movie b) married to Bryan Cranston c) SPOILER ALERT: swallowed up in a nuclear cloud and d) smiling tenderly at her husband as the fail-safe door in the nuclear power plant shuts on her, leaving her to radioactive doom.
Would you be smiling? Maybe she’s smiling because she doesn’t have to be in the movie anymore.
So the fact that both Bryan Cranston and Juliette Binoche have to pretend to be nuclear scientists and cry and yell a lot should alert the leaders of the free world that something serious is going on.
And when you see a scaly sea monster the approximate size of the Grand Canyon wading towards you out of the ocean, and it’s screeching angrily at the top of its lungs and waving its huge claws around and generally acting peevish, and then it takes out Honolulu, wouldn’t the first name on your lips be Godzilla? But the LOTFW seem a tad slow on the uptake.
So, yes, I question the smarts and resolve of our political leaders and scientific community, and also our movie studios. Why does Hollywood Super Size everything? It wasn’t enough to destroy Tokyo, now Godzilla has to go after San Francisco, too? Can it wipe out all those smug wunderkinds in Silicon Valley while it’s at it?
The original Godzilla was kind of adorable when he got mad, in a 6-year-old-kid-having-a-tantrum way, and you were sort of rooting for him to stomp out humanity and show us who’s boss, but this one is really slow and all of the combined forces of all the countries in the world can’t do anything to stop him.
Except for Aaron Taylor-Johnson, a young English actor who plays Bryan Cranston’s son Ford. In addition to being incredibly buff, we know that Ford is going to save the world because his mother (Juliette Binoche) died in one mushroom cloud already and he’s not going to let one more small boy experience the same unspeakable loss.
I’m just guessing, but I think the movie is a metaphor with a capital M for all the terrible, rotten, hubristic things humans do to the planet. Point taken. But I want to know how many screenwriters were harmed during the making of this production. Usually, that kind of stuff is supposed to be simulated, but I don’t think that was the case here.
Nicola Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.