According to Dan, last year’s Pacific Rim is vastly better than the new Godzilla movie, which I disagree with pretty strenuously, but I’m not here to do a point-by-point rebuttal. Why? Because, honestly, I mostly preferred Godzilla for one reason — one big, green, stompy reason.
Yeah, the new Godzilla‘s script is a bit of a mess, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson has less personality than the skyscrapers the movie’s monsters crash through, but in the end it doesn’t matter because the flick gets Godzilla himself so freakin’ right. I’ve watched more Godzilla movies than I care to count, and the new movie is the most I’ve ever enjoyed the character. Near the end of the movie my fiancé and me were tightly squeezing each other’s hands because we weren’t sure if the G-man was going to make it. It’s rare that I find myself that invested in a character, never mind one that happens to be a giant CGI lizard. So, why is the new Godzilla so likeable? Well…
Warning! I won’t be delving too deeply into specific plot points, but those hyper sensitive to spoilers may want to proceed with caution.
He’s Pleasingly Plump
Godzilla recently caught flak from Japanese fans for being a bit of a flubzo, and well, it’s true. The guy’s got thunder thighs, legs like tree trunks and adorable chubby cheeks. As a city-leveling monster Godzilla is kind of loveably awkward, which is as it should be. Dude’s always been kind of dorky looking — it’s when they tried to make him into a sleek, cool, super t-rex that things went off the rails. You got the impression 1998 Godzilla spent a few hours in the mirror getting all his scales in order before attacking New York. 2014 Godzilla can’t be fussed with that, he’s got sh*t to punch.
The new Godzilla’s such a swell guy people don’t even bother to get off the pier as he’s coming through.
He’s a Noble Hero
Tired of flawed, morally ambiguous heroes? Well, there’s nothing ambiguous about this latest incarnation of Godzilla. Giant flappy pterodactyl-spider monsters are attacking the planet and Godzilla is here to beat them up. Why? Because flappy pterodactyl-spider monsters are bad, and Godzilla is good. That’s pretty much exactly how Ken Wantanabe’s scientist character explains it — “My scientific theory is that Godzilla exists to be good and awesome and punch things, the end.”
He Gets Sh*t Done
Probably the most common complaint about the new Godzilla is that there’s not enough Godzilla in it, but it makes sense. Most of the movie is one long kaiju chase scene leading up to a single battle, because there was never going to be more than one battle. Godzilla is the super super super heavyweight boxer throwing the craziest, heaviest blows possible. He gets his business done quickly and decisively.
Also, the way Godzilla dispatches the second MUTO is cooler than everything in Pacific Rim combined.
He’s Charmingly Reptilian
I’m a reptile guy, having kept turtles and tortoises as pets for most of my life. People tend to think of reptiles as cold and kind of vacant, but they actually have interesting little personalities. They’re very single-minded — they decide they want something and pursue it relentlessly regardless of what’s happening around them or what’s in their way.
If I had to criticize something about the original Japanese Godzilla, it’s that he often seems a bit too human. Too thoughtful about things. The 1998 American Godzilla was also too clever for his own good. 2014 Godzilla on the other hand, is essentially a tortoise going after a piece of lettuce. Godzilla keeps his sights stubbornly set on the MUTOs, not becoming distracted by the US Navy, inconvenient Hawaiian islands or anything else that gets in his way. 2014 Godzilla isn’t a person in lizard costume, he’s an animal, one driven by instinct and his own kind of intelligence.
He’s No Glory Hog
So, Godzilla saves the day (hey, I told you there’d be spoilers). Then, after playing dead for a bit, he just gets up, stomps his way back to the ocean and swims away. End credits. Perfect. No soaking up the adoration, no reality TV shows. He did what he needed to do and got out. Take a lesson from Godzilla, all other celebrities.
See you again soon, buddy.
There you have it — Godzilla 2? Bring it on. I’d watch a dozen more movies starring this loveable gargantuan scamp.