If you follow me on social media, you probably knew I was really excited for the new Godzilla movie that came out a few weeks ago, because since the first trailer was revealed in December all the way up to its May release, I couldn’t shut up about the movie. I lost track of how many tweets and statuses I posted acting like an excited little kid anticipating Christmas morning, or how many times I flaunted a world premier trailer like I was an honor guard for Godzilla or something.
Well, I finally did get to see in May 15th, and it was a lot of fun. I was already having a great day after completing my final college class and graduating after several long, tiring years of school. It only got better when I sat down in the IMAX 3D theater to watch the first Godzilla movie in nearly ten years.
The movie was a blast—chilling, exciting, and awe-inspiring. But what I’ve taken from that day the very most, even more so than graduating from college, was the company I shared when I went to go see the movie. I was lucky enough to have 11 of my closest friends sitting in the theater with me, after I had spent weeks sending group text messages organizing the event—because that’s what it really was for me, an event. I stayed up to date every day on when tickets were being released and at what time, and I made sure everybody knew that I wanted to go for the world premier. Most importantly, I made sure that everybody knew I wanted as many of them with me as possible.
I’ve been a Godzilla fanatic since I was two years old, but growing up, I didn’t know many others who were just as fond of the big guy and other giant monsters as I was. Most little kids were into superheroes like Spiderman, Batman or Superman, and once you get into that Middleschool/Highschool period of your life, there seems to be a tendency to suppress your “nerdy” interests.
So, when I realized that all of my friends who I work with at Best Buy (and have become some of my closest pals) all wanted to see the new Godzilla movie? Well, it felt great to finally be able to share in that interest for a night.
They seemed to understand it, too. Everyone I was with enjoyed the movie (the entire theater, in fact, judging by the hoots, hollers and applauses that erupted throughout the film), especially when it made a point to emphasize just how massive and powerful the monsters were. I admit that I am tremendously biased for the big beasts because I’ve always had a great interest in animals, but I’d argue to that death that you don’t need to be a fanboy for King Kong, Godzilla or the like to appreciate watching one of the behemoths effortlessly thwart a military attack, or when they duke it out across an entire city, tearing down skyscrapers left and right in their primal brawl.
The latter example was, expectedly, the highlight of the newest Godzilla film, where the Big G squares off with his adversaries in the heart of San Francisco. Before that, I had already watched all 28 Japanese Godzilla films, read numerous novels and comics, and watched dozens of other giant monster movies, but it was really something special to watch it on the big screen in 3D, with the IMAX sound system blaring as the Western reimagining of Godzilla battled with two brand new, vicious insect-like monsters amongst the spires of one of America’s grandest cities.
In the words of my good friend, Jessa – “Jeff, you were rocking in your seat for the last forty minutes of the movie.”
She’s not exaggerating. I was pretty much lost in my own world any time Godzilla was on screen, especially during his first few appearances. This new rendition of him, imagined and crafted by a group of American and British filmmakers really did the legendary monster justice. His design was fantastic, very feral and daunting. He fought like a savage animal, constantly moving forward without any regard for what damage he may have taken. At the same time, he wasn’t bloodthirsty—he definitely killed a lot of people in the movie simply because of the destruction he brings by walking throughout a city, but as the story makes clear, he’s not out to bring death to life on earth. He was there to bring order to nature after it had been disturbed when human machinations empowered more-destructive giants.
Godzilla may not have said a single world, but like in so many other of his narratives, he was a very complex character. He’s not evil, but he’s not necessarily a hero. His ‘goal’ is what his instincts tell him, and in this movie, it was to eliminate something that was a threat to the world. That he saved humanity was merely coincidence on his part.
I was glad that my friends found that part of his character as interesting as I always have. I thought it was also really neat that a few of them caught on to something about him that I’ve admired since before I could talk, and that was how expressive Godzilla is. Following the movie, my best friend Kenny (who has always known that I was a huge Godzilla fan, but never watched a movie himself) remarked how he liked that you could clearly see when Godzilla was mad based on his facial expressions, between when his fiery eyes narrowed or the way his lips curled before one of his thunderous roars. My friend Emily found it amusing that he was visibly tired following the final battle, and ended up falling asleep right in the middle of the city.
I loved the movie, but those kind of reactions from my friends really made the experience something to remember. They, and a lot of people who probably saw Godzilla for the first time through this film, now understand why someone like myself has been such an avid fan of him for so long.
For me, Godzilla isn’t just a giant reptile that breathes atomic fire and body slams other monsters through buildings. As a kid, he was the action figure I spent countless hours playing with, the stuffed animal I slept with at night. He was the character that I thought would actually save the world (sorry, Superman) if something ever went wrong.
Today, as I approach 24 years of age, he’s still the monster—the character—who represents so many powerful themes and memories for me.