Japanese Godzilla movie Hollywood style. Huge monsters created by SUV exhaust, oil pipelines, second hand smoke, and our failure to protect the California Delta Smelt.
The world is being attacked by huge monsters (called Kaiju), not from outer space, but from underneath the sea in the ocean’s crust. So the nations bind together to create huge robots (called Jaegers) to equal their size and fight back. These robots are driven by two pilots whose minds are synchronized in a neural net connection so that they can act as one. The problem is, the giants are getting too big and are kicking robot A., so they decide to drop the robot program and put all their energies into building huge walls to keep out the Kaiju. Obviously stupid decision when the walls are busted like nothing. So they gather a few of the remaining “old school” robots to fight back.
Okay, I don’t care for Japanese Humongous Fighting Monster Movies. But I must admit, I enjoyed this one as a popcorn spectacle. I think Del Toro did a good job of creating a sense of the size of the monsters and the fighting was kinda cool. Yes, this movie is filled with all the cliché formula elements: The hero, Raleigh, is a “top gun” with an attitude who doesn’t follow orders (Hey, when have we ever seen that?), a love interest of a girl who is a combat pilot with just as good fighting skills as the hero so they are equals, two goofy scientist types to provide comic relief and a scientific discovery of how to beat the monsters, and another top gun who hates the hero until the hero saves him! Oh, and also a fascinating bad guy who holds the key to helping them out (played by the inimitable Ron Perlman). But so what. THAT IS WHAT THESE MOVIES HAVE BECAUSE IT WORKS. If you accept that they are primarily about the spectacle, then just sit back and enjoy the spectacle.
But that is not to say that it does not have some character development or thematic intentions.
The whole element of the pilots needing to “mind meld” with each other and therefore enter into their brains and memories sets up a pretty cool thematic element of how hard it is to let someone into your pain and hurt, and how we must let people in or we will ultimately fail in our humanity. There is even a line by one of the characters, “It’s hard to let someone in to really trust them.” After Raleigh loses his brother (his copilot, since siblings are prime cases for synchronized minds), he of course gives up and has to learn again how to let someone in again, and YES, it has to be a girl pilot, because we want ROMANCE! (An interesting side note is that Del Toro deliberately avoids the romantic subplot implications at the end when the hero and girl DO NOT KISS. It is a kiss scene for sure, but they just lean their foreheads out of happiness that they are alive.
There is a thematic conflict between obedience and respect as Raleigh must face the consequences of his own rule breaking that leads to his heartbreak in his life.
And of course, individualism versus being a team player. The hero has much to offer with his skills, but he must learn to work as a team and ultimately to offer himself as a sacrifice or he will never be the full human he needs to be.
SPOILER ALERT: Anyway, my “agenda gripe” for the day is that we ultimately learn that the aliens are colonizers who have been waiting to take over the planet and kill us so they can move onto another planet. The problem was that in the days of the dinosaurs, we are told, the planet was not able to sustain their life forms. But then the crazy scientist says that thanks to our ozone and carbon output, we made terra firma livable for them.
This is a common thematic element of sci-fi movies, and it follows the formula from the olden days. The monstrous terror is the consequences of our own hubris. (Remember Frankenstein?) Okay, fair enough. We create the monsters that hurt us, so we must change. It’s a sociological and political statement. Just like all the monsters in the olden days were caused by atomic radiation, thus causing the terror of end of the world destruction that lay over our heads like the sword of Damocles.
Just know that every single movie about every global end of the world scenario will always now be about global warming and the accusation that humans are causing the catastrophe by our use of energy and our carbon output. Even though these anti-science flat earth like claims are demonstrably not true in our real world, every movie, every TV show and all entertainment will always make the claim. (Already happening: 2012, Day After Tomorrow, After Earth, Oblivion, probably Elysium too). And the ignorant that make up the masses will be believing it and accepting it as an assumed truth because they’ve been told it over and over. You are being propagandized through the media and entertainment. That is how propaganda works. You repeat the slogan over and over in all forms of media and entertainment and suppress all skepticism: “We are causing the end of the world through our carbon output,” “We are causing the end of the world through our carbon output,” “We are causing the end of the world through our carbon output.” And hey, wouldn’t you know it, people are thinking, “We are causing the end of the world through our carbon output.” Gee, I wonder why they think that? It ain’t cause of the facts, folks. It’s because you’ve been propagandized.
This is the new puritanical religion of environmentalism. It projects guilt for “sins” and demands repentance or the end of the world. It has a vast institution of power called Big Government that controls a multi-billion dollar empire of propaganda and control, High priests of “scientists” who damn you if you question their dogma. And it has its fanatical terrorists called Big Green who engage in inquisitions that end up killing people by withholding help in the name of their religion (the DDT scandal, genetically modified foods for the poor, and energy sources for blacks in the third world and on and on). And anyone who denies it is an “other,” a heathen, a polluter who wants to pollute the earth or being paid by Big Oil. In the movie, a guy says that some believe “The Kaiju were sent from heaven to punish us” (for our carbon output).
I would have to say though, that there is a very interesting truth embodied in this story that I am not sure the filmmakers intended because it does not fit their typical left wing paradigm. The solution in this movie (as in all these End-of-the-World scenarios) to overcome the villain, and save the world is NUCLEAR BOMBS. It kinda has to be since we have nothing bigger. But if you see where I am going… The Bad Guy Boogieman of yesteryear is now the hero solution, literally AND metaphorically, which should really tick off the environmentalist flat-earthers. Because of course, Enviromentalists successfully suppressed the expansion of nuclear power with their radical activism. But now, nuclear power is THE CLEANEST source of power we have, with virtually ZERO CARBON OUTPUT. Uh oh. That doesn’t bode well for religious science-denying dogma.
And on the other side, Nuclear weapons are the only ultimate source of being able to stop global human evil of the Kaiju kind (Islamism, Communism). Why? Because evil only respects power and force. And the bigger power and more totalitarian a monster gets (Iran, N. Korea), the only thing that will stop them is the threat of nuclear weapons. You know, those things that the current administration is trying to do away with. So, who are the real Monsters?
One word: I am not being paid by Big Oil, but if any of them would like to help fund my work, I would gladly consider offers.