Godzilla spawned a bunch of corny sequels with different nemeses like Mothra and Megalon, but I’d like to introduce a much superior one:
This is Bertha Mason. I adopted her from a guinea pig shelter (yes, those actually exist!) as a companion for Beaver, whom I introduced in a previous post.
Bertha’s not really into classic films. She prefers Nicholas Sparks adaptations. The Notebook is her favorite (also that one with Miley Cyrus). When she’s not binge-watching Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead, she likes to read James Patterson novels while jammin’ out to Kenny G. on her iPod.
Sadly, she and Beaver didn’t get along. He’s laid-back and Bertha has a dominant personality, so she drove him crazy (hence the name). Thanks to an unexpected new roommate, though, everything ended happily. But that’s for another post. Now back to the film.
The original Godzilla came like a kick in the gut for its target audience, which was still reeling from the Hiroshima disaster and operation Castle Bravo. Hydrogen bomb tests destroy a harmless sea creature’s natural environment. Radioactivity deforms it into a giant voracious monster that emerges on land to forage for food — i.e., humans, and a couple of cows. Daisuke Serizawa, the eye-patched scientist, refuses to kill it with his top-secret formula. Kyohei Yamane, a prominent archaeologist, wants to keep Godzilla alive for research … which would make sense if they had any way to contain it. Yamane’s daughter, Emiko, goes around crying (although it looks more like she’s trying not to laugh), and tripping at crucial running-away-from-Godzilla-moments.
I love the top-secret formula’s name: “The Oxygen Eliminator.” Serizawa insists it can be used for good … in spite of the fact that it removes oxygen from the environment and then liquefies its victims’ flesh. That kind of thinking happens when you’re holed up in a basement lab for years. Plus in its present form, he argues, it’ll be manipulated by politicians. Newsflash: nothing’s safe from that in any form. When the others attempt to persuade him to use it, he tries to destroy it — in a scene that reminded me of this great Mitchell and Webb skit:
I thought ———— SPOILER ALERT!!! ———– Serizawa’s sacrifice in the end was needless. They could have pulled him up with the rope after he detonated the Oxygen Eliminator. Maybe the producer was trying to make a point — the scientific community suffers when its discoveries are manipulated for personal gain.
Godzilla surprised me. I walked in expecting a goofy, B-type film with no substance, just shots of a monster terrorizing Tokyo. Instead I saw a sombre, dialogue-driven film denouncing war and atomic weapons. The acting is powerful, the dialogue thoughtful, and the special effects — for the most part — are impressive for the time. Godzilla depicts the toll weapons take on society, regardless of their shape. If ever there was a film promoting peace, this is it.