Godzilla: Feel the Fear

Godzilla Cartoon by Mickey Paraskevas
Cartoon by Mickey Paraskevas

I know the movie Godzilla has pretty much completed its run in all the theaters, but nevertheless I want to write a review of it. It is really neat.

I saw this movie because of an unusual circumstance. My wife and I generally go everywhere together. We enjoy movies. But there are categories she doesn’t like and categories I don’t like, so out of mutual deference there are movies we never get around to seeing.

The marquee on the front of the East Hampton Cinema enticed me. I was driving down Main Street. NOW HIRING GODZILLA it read.

This had gotten good reviews. Not the NOW HIRING part. The GODZILLA part. Driving by, I imagined myself asking her to go and in my mind her saying no thanks. So instead of actually asking her, I just waited for a time that week when she had a dinner out with one of her girlfriends and I went to the 9 p.m. show. I’d be back around midnight.

At this point, Godzilla was already so near the end of its run that I was the only person in the theater. I took an aisle seat. I had my 3-D glasses, my popcorn, a bottle of water.

The previews were all for the most violent movies imaginable coming up. Cars exploding, buildings falling, people fleeing for their lives. The theater had tailored them to this audience.

In the thunder and flickering light of these previews, a couple came down the aisle and sat four rows down in front of me. The girl, who got there first, moved in three seats and sat down, having apparently seen me sitting alone on the aisle and being courteous enough to try to arrange things so as not to block me.

But the guy she was with, with a leather jacket and chains, put his gear down in the empty seat next to the aisle seat. He was having none of it. Standing there, he was claiming the seat blocking me. He pointed to the seat next to the aisle seat. Over here, bitch, it said. She moved.

So I didn’t move. Why make a fuss? People get shot in movie theaters these days.

The movie began in Japan, at a seismic center in a city where they monitor earthquake activity. There were some strange earthquake-like shivers.

“It’s 5.7,” one of them said. “But it’s not an earthquake. There’s a rhythm to them. Look. Every 12 seconds. It repeats.”

Of course, we all knew who this was, although, as things developed, we were wrong.

In the original Godzilla, the shivers were being made by the steps taken by a 50-foot-tall lizard that had ballooned up to that outrageously grotesque size after ingesting accidentally released radioactive material.

In this movie, we think we know who this is, but it’s well into the movie before it’s revealed who it is. That’s after a family is introduced, a man and his wife who are in love are introduced, a boy is introduced, a scientist is introduced and a plot is set up about the earth shiver.

Turns out it is not only not Godzilla, it is not even King Kong, who faced off against Godzilla in a 1962 movie.

It is somebody else entirely.

Now, I am withholding this information from you so far because that is one of the things that make the Godzilla story so interesting. Godzilla was originally made in the 1950s. In those old black-and-white movies it took a long time, with much fearful anticipation in the audience, for a monster to arrive.

That is not the case with most movies today. We’ve got CGI. We get right to it. But in this retelling of Godzilla, it’s old-school. We get a glimpse here. A sneaky thing going on there that nobody can explain.

Some critics have complained about how long it takes to bring the monster out into the open, but that is what is so pleasurable about old-school and why I continue to withhold this information.

Feel the fear.

Okay. It’s a giant 50-foot-tall cockroach. It’s a cockroach with wings, so it can fly. It’s a cockroach with a hard black shell like a lobster and big claws like an eagle, so it can pick up an M-1 tank, chew it in half and spit it out.

And we soon learn that there is not one but two of these horrible cockroaches, and they are halfway around the world from each other but moving toward each other in response to a mutual high-pitched mating call with the intention of mating and creating thousands more monsters who, whether with forethought or not, intend to kill everything on the planet and make it theirs.

Tokyo is destroyed by this one cockroach. The other cockroach, the female, arises from an underground desert in Nevada, I think, and then destroys Reno while the other goes after Honolulu. Now down goes San Francisco. The American Army, Air Force and Navy try mightily to stop them, but brave as these soldiers and sailors are, the giant cockroaches are having none of it.

Enter Godzilla. The American Army thinks he has to be destroyed, too. But a scientist says let them go at it, the three of them. “Godzilla is the natural enemy of these two cockroaches. He will prevail,” he says. But the Army ignores him.

Computers predict the meeting of the three will take place in San Francisco Bay between the Golden Gate and the Oakland Bridge. The Army rushes to get there first. It intends to lure them all offshore, where nuclear bombs can be exploded that will tear them all to bits. Secretly, though, the scientist and his buddies try to disarm the timer set to go off, which is, of course, counting down. Let Godzilla go at them.

In the end, Godzilla can beat one of the cockroaches, but when the other jumps on his back, he goes down and is being beaten badly by both until, by accident, the Army does something that distracts one of the cockroaches and Godzilla sees his chance.

My favorite scene in the movie is when Godzilla, having finally dispatched both cockroaches, dies himself. He lies in the rubble, dead. People mourn. Then Godzilla coughs, shakes himself, gets up and looks at the scientist who disarmed the bomb, and you don’t know if Godzilla is showing compassion or thankfulness or what. And then Godzilla wanders off and into the sea.

Movie over.

This was just so well done. It’s somewhere between Independence Day and Jurassic Park in its cinematography, plot sequence and ridiculousness. Kids would like it. I loved it.

From time to time, I have thought up movie plots that I have subsequently written up into treatments published in this newspaper. I am open to offers.

Here’s what I thought up while walking out to my car.

A rich man is sitting out by his pool. A servant arrives, bearing a drink on a tray. The earth shivers. And now the surface of the drink is tipped in relation to the glass that contains it. The man now notices that the water in his pool is high at one end and lower at the other. Then he sees the servant walking off at what appears to be an angle.

This is about fracking. The explosions underground have messed up gravity and made the planet lopsided. It gets worse and worse. And soon the planet is in danger of wandering off its orbit to someplace unknown. I haven’t yet figured out how it ends.

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