In part of my quest to remain perpetually 12 years old, I’m a Godzilla junkie. I’ll watch absolutely any movie on TV if it involves a 350-foot-tall green lizard that breathes lightning. A rubber Godzilla model adorns the top of a bookshelf in my home office.
The standard plot for any Godzilla film is: Humans test nature’s limits, and a beast is awakened. Then the beast ends up protecting us while almost destroying us. Nuclear attacks, the Cold War, technology run amok, genetics run amok, hostile aliens, pollution – all are set up as Godzilla foes in dozens of films that range from pretty good (the first one) to awful (try “Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla”).
The current incarnation, “Godzilla,” is the best of the bunch. I’m not much for sci-fi or comic book films that become a two-hour CG fight scene, and this one takes a nice, long time to rev up. Meantime, we get Bryan Cranston freaking out amid a storyline that involves at least some thought before the inevitable “Godzilla versus (fill in the blank)” climax.
What is it about Godzilla that fascinates us? How come two dozen bad films couldn’t destroy him? I think it’s because the basic storyline contains a universal theme: human achievement, pride and, yes, sin eventually causing problems we can’t control. All hell breaks loose. And then sacrifice is required to set things right again.
It would be a stretch to say Godzilla represents a Christ figure (though at least one writer has tried). But I do think the story evokes elements of that universal theme God has hardwired into all of us – even if we don’t immediately recognize it while giant monsters level our cities.
Stories that endure – even dumb stories – are about much more than what’s on the surface. Sometimes those universal themes are worth awakening from the watery deep.