I spent the entire viewing of Godzilla 2014 focusing on the main man’s (or lizard’s, rather) personality. And boy, does he have one:
I was surprised to discover that they went the “protector” route with this GZ. I’ve worked hard to avoid spoilers thus far, and based on the trailers, we were led to believe that it was Godzilla himself that would be set against humanity, the natural terror sent to destroy us all.
But no, that’s not what happened at all, and upon first realizing this, I was almost disappointed (until I started giving the big lizard his own damn internal voice every time he showed up on screen?). Edwards did an amazing job giving GZ a true personality here, making him highly intelligent and almost (dare I say it?) human.
Now, I’m no Godzilla expert. I’m aware that the original Godzilla was a force of nature, a metaphor for the Bomb, and for all intents and purposes he was a creature to be terrified of, to run from, to hide from. He was our death. Our suffering. Our fears and our doom.
He seemed to be first shifted toward neutrality. Still an unstoppable and feared powerhouse, he became more of an antihero of sorts, arising to defend his territory against those creatures that dared to invade.
Later, another shift into heroism. Earth (Japan, more specifically) became his protectorate, mankind a large number of sub-creatures existing within it.
Legendary’s Godzilla seems to be a mix of all of these, but I noticed many obvious hints towards the latter.
First, his travels. Godzilla swims for miles escorted by the military, subs flanking him, jets and choppers above. The big lizard swims onward, despite being fully capable of whipping his tail into a sub’s hull or blasting a helicopter out of the sky with his atomic breath. It would seem plausible, considering the extent the military went to to kill him in the fifties. Does he ignore them to conserve energy? Does he do it because he’s hyper-focused on the MUTO and his instincts do not allow for distraction? Or is he aware of the tiny creatures aboard these crafts, and intentionally leaving them be?
The scene at the bridge also caught my attention. When Godzilla finally stops, the military has a blockade of ships in his path. He halts, hovers, almost hesitating (as if to say Excuse me, little creatures, move your shit and let me pass I have important things to do) before finally (and with a probable Oh, fuck it) rising from the water, pushing the ships out of the way.
Directly after, the ships begin firing at him, towards the bridge covered in civilians, and it just so happens that Godzilla’s giant, armor-like spikes take the brunt of the barrage. He grabs hold of the bridge itself, seems to hesitate as the military continues to hit him (Don’t make me smash through the bridge, stop shooting at me, THAT HURTS DAMMIT, I’M TRYING TO PROTECT YOU YOU IDIOTS), before finally turning and walking on through, taking out a large portion of the bridge and, of course, killing several people in the process.
Despite his arrival on shore drowning hundreds (I’m going to estimate hundreds here, I mean really), Godzilla’s face-off against the MUTO make his role as a protector pretty obvious. When he falls, injured, and lands before the protagonist Ford Brody, the two share a quiet but tense moment in which you could very well not blame the big guy for lashing out simply for the hell of it. (Consider an injured dog, in pain, exhausted, biting the hand that helps it. Growling at anyone who comes near.) But no, he looks at Brody, considers him in silence (you better thank me for this I expect a statue and everything), before rising again to continue his fight.
It’s at this point that the two characters actually seem to be linked for a time, as near the climax of the film Godzilla “saves” Brody from the larger of the MUTO, almost angrily pulling it away from Brody’s boat to fire atomic breath into the creature’s skull (can we talk about how fucking badass that was? We’re talking Mortal Kombat badass ((
Edwards then parallels the two, having Brody and Godzilla fall in exhaustion simultaneously, as if their energies were connected. I found it a very poignant confirmation of Godzilla’s intended human element, which seems to be officially accepted by the humans around him in the final scene of the film, when the fallen GZ awakens, rises, and peacefully yet regally leaves the city, the (somehow still working??) television monitors displaying the all important question of the film: KING OF MONSTERS; SAVIOR OF OUR CITY?
The movie ends with stillness. Godzilla sinking into the sea to presumably lie dormant until Nature goes awry once again. I’m personally left a bit conflicted (but overall pleased) with how Edwards presented Godzilla to us: Destructive Monster, Order Keeper, Mankind’s Protector.
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