Gadzooks! A Godzilla for Malick Fans?

Change my mind, moviegoers.

I’ve made clear that I’m done with movies that turn urban devastation into entertainment. I still haven’t given two hours of my life to watch Man of Steel, thank God. But the more I read about Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla, the more intrigued I become. Might this film actually give me food for thought? Or are film reviewers simply showing signs of desperation, clutching at straws in order to find something to say while yet another blockbuster comes in like a wrecking ball to bust up city blocks?

Here are some of the more intriguing paragraphs I’ve read about Godzilla…

Matt Zoller Seitz on Godzilla:

While “Godzilla” is less a satisfying drama than an immense, sometimes terrifying sound-and-light show, it’s got a good heart. It’s tough but never glib or cruel. Even when its titular amphibian is rising from the sea to flood and crush major cities, the film never becomes a mere display of special effects prowess. We’re aware that Godzilla and his foes are animals—parts of a long gone, pre-prehistoric ecosystem, like the real creatures that dot the movie’s margins: bats, birds, iguanas, dogs, wolves, beetles. There’s a bit of H.P. Lovecraft in how the script (credited to Max Borenstein) turns the kaiju into mythic reminders of humanity’s arrogance and youth, and an unexpected (but delightful) touch of Terrence Malick’s Transcendentalist humility in how the director lavishes attention on meadows and forests and rolling waves. (The movie’s final shot evokes “The Thin Red Line.” Yes, really.)

At The Dissolve, David Ehrlich writes:

In Godzilla, almost all human action is futile and/or fatal…. Godzilla is both humanity’s reckoning and its salvation, a response to our unchecked parasitic relationship with the planet and a reminder of our ultimately supporting role as stewards rather than beneficiaries. Steven Spielberg exerts an undeniable influence on the way the film moves, but Hayao Miyazaki’s work best anticipates where it goes. If Jurassic Park is about the perils of playing God, Godzilla responds that just being ourselves is bad enough.

Godzilla isn’t an action movie, it’s a spectacle of humility.

This is a story about exposing the myopia of the human perspective and then humiliating our inherently egocentric POV.  We’re just another part of the equation Godzilla has come back to balance, an urgent reorientation that Edwards turns into a story by gradually disempowering his human characters, conflating us with the bad guys until Godzilla can emerge as an aspirational figure.

The film’s evocative closing shot serves as a resonant reminder that just because we’re the planet’s predominant storytellers doesn’t mean that the story is necessarily about us.

Meanwhile, thanks to Josh Larsen at Think Christian for bringing Elijah Davidson’s brilliant Godzilla-meets-Job piece to my attention:

I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks of Job when watching Godzilla.

Elijah Davidson, co-director of Reel Spirituality, recently watched the older version for the first time and afterwards put together this frame-by-frame comparison of the 1954 Godzilla and descriptions of Leviathan from Job 41. Eyes like the rays of dawn? Breaking iron as if it was straw? Causing the depths to churn like a boiling pot? Certainly sounds like Godzilla, and Davidson has the pictures to prove it.

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