Sam Stall

Novelist. Journalist. Repository of Odd Information.

Godzilla Rant

I recently introduced my 5-year-old son to Godzilla movies, which was a revelation for both of us. For him it was love at first sight, because they're packed with giant monsters, tanks, fighter planes and wanton destruction. Or at least he thinks they are. I always fast-forward through the boring buildup and jump to the last half hour, when Godzilla finally throws down with Rodan or Mothra or Gonorrhea or whatever rubber-suited freak Toho Studios tossed in the ring with him.

           I have to say that these movies are far less entertaining than I remember. And it's not just because I'm old now and my standards are higher. I am old, but my standards are as low as ever. The problem -- as I discovered when I forced myself to watch Godzilla Raids Again without fast forwarding -- is that for every minute of two-fisted dino action, there's maybe 10 minutes of meetings. No kidding. There's usually a brief (crazy brief) opening action sequence, after which the human characters gather around conference tables, trying to decide how they'll confront Godzilla for the umpteenth time. Books are brought out and consulted. Geriatric scientists with crazy hair hold forth. Instructional films are shown. Coffee is sent for. It's about as exciting as CSPAN3.

 

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The typical G'zilla movie contains a little bit 

of this ... 

 

   

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... and a whole big bunch of this.

 

          Maybe it's a cultural thing. I know Japan is big on slow, careful consensus-building, but watching this process in action makes terrible cinema. Plus, when a gigantic monster is trampling Tokyo, who's got the time? And since this sort of thing happens constantly in Godzilla Land, wouldn't a plan already be in place? Something to the effect of: Step One: Point all tanks, missile launchers, fighter planes, bombers and naval units at target. Step Two: Fire. Step Three: Repeat as necessary, or until all forces are melted into a heap of white-hot slag by target's atomic breath.

          Most of the Godzilla films my son enjoys are from the '50s and '60s. I know there's stuff from the '80s and '90s and even the 21st century, but I can't bear to look at it. Especially the most recent films. I'm afraid someone will break out a laptop and give a PowerPoint presentation. 

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