Godzilla’s Revenge: A Misunderstood Movie for Those With Enlarged IQ, Only Serious Brainiacs Need Apply

By Kyle B. Stiff

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Here’s a quick rundown on what may be the best Godzilla move of all time. It’s about a little boy who goes to Monster Island and meets Godzilla’s goofy-looking son, a creature with a battle cry that sounds like a donkey. They become friends while stock footage taken from other (better?) monster movies plays in the background. Most kaiju fans don’t take this one serious because it *seems* lighthearted, even silly. But, behold: Godzilla’s Revenge (also called All Monsters Attack) is the darkest Godzilla movie of them all.

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The movie opens with shots of an industrial wasteland.

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This is the urban jungle that formed Ichiro, our protagonist, a little boy growing up among steel girders and desolate parking lots with two parents constantly working and only a television to keep him company during dinner.

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We know right off the bat that Ichiro is not a cool kid as he explains to his little lady friend the sound that his imaginary monster friend makes. She is saved from his autistic cringe when a gang of bullies show up to assert dominance.

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This is life for Ichiro – being bullied in an urban hellscape with no one to protect him. It’s the opposite of the kaiju formula, where monsters who were made for endless war beat the shit out of each other throughout all eternity. Ichiro’s life is just a sad blip on the radar.

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The fact that Ichiro doesn’t wallow in sadness only makes his sad fate more apparent to the adult viewer (and more palatable to young viewers who just wanted to see some giant monsters fight each other).

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When Ichiro is alone, he dreams of being on Monster Island. He imagines that he is friends with Godzilla’s son, Minya (or Minilla), a sort of cute creature with a face that is nonetheless nightmare fuel. Minya is just as pathetic as Ichiro, though he puts on a brave face, simply stating that he has no friends so that there can be no confusion about his state. This may be more the result of Ichiro’s latent autism, in which his emotional disconnect with himself manifests in imaginary friends stating matter-of-factly that they are alone and without friends but not making a big deal of it.

 

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Minya is bullied by a monster called Gabara, a giant lizard with a cat’s head and wild orange hair. Gabara looks stupid and thus he’s a real shit, just the sort of thing that would be dreamed up by a young boy sorting through his own problems.

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In fact, it’s important to note that even though Ichiro retreats into a fantasy world to get away from life’s difficulties, I think it’s a psychologically healthy fantasy world. It doesn’t cater to his desires but presents him with the hard truths about life in a way that a young boy can understand. He doesn’t daydream about a world where everyone is nice to each other and nothing can hurt him. He knows that’s impossible. He knows the world favors the strong, and he wants to be strong, even though he’s scared.

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In his fantasy world, Godzilla doesn’t cut Minya any slack. One might make the mistake of thinking that being the son of the most powerful monster would guarantee you an easy life, but Godzilla didn’t become the most powerful by being soft. Godzilla doesn’t have time for Minya’s tears, and when Minya desperately seeks his help against his bully, his father pushes him back toward Gabara. On Monster Island, there is no room for weakness! In fact, I think the title All Monsters Attack isn’t necessarily an order, but a statement that this is what monsters do: They attack. We do the same. It’s how we survive!

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The funny thing is that once Minya gives the fight everything he has, Godzilla actually does help him when things get really hairy. When Minya embarrasses Gabara and Gabara loses his cool, Godzilla comes in, throws Gabara around, whips him with his tail, beats his face in, squats and shits on him, you name it. There’s a life lesson in there: No one will help you until you help yourself. Problems seem insurmountable but you still have to give it some effort, but once you do, help will arrive.

Or it won’t, and you’ll die.

Either way, it’s better than living in fear like a coward!

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In the end, Ichiro’s fantasies about Godzilla and Minya and the Monster Island lifestyle inspire him to fight to survive a pretty harrowing real-life situation in which some bank robbers kidnap him and even consider killing him. It’s a rough situation, no doubt traumatizing for someone as sensitive as Ichiro. It’s a grim reminder of the world he lives in, a mean urban toilet bowl where a grown man will pull a knife on you if you get between him and a bag of money. But in surviving, Ichiro gains perspective. When his bullies try to torment him the next day, he doesn’t even consider backing down. He already knows true pain, so he has nothing to fear, even against opponents bigger than him. He fights! He even beats the alpha who leads the bullies!

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But here’s the thing. When Ichiro wins the fight, does he force the bullies to give up their cruel ways? Does he make them slink off in shame so they can contemplate their misdeeds? Hell no – he becomes their leader!

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And his first act is to terrorize a painter working on an advertising billboard. The man falls over, covered in paint, and as Ichiro and his crew laugh at the man’s plight and run away, it is simply a continuation of the will to survive and fight and persist in a cruel world. Such is life on Monster Island, also known as planet Earth!

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It’s this point that deeply troubles many viewers, especially some guy on YouTube that spazzed out about this movie. The guy on YouTube said this movie’s morals are indefensible, that this movie is horrendous because it depicts kids saying hell and damn, and he hates the idea of bullied kids turning into bullies themselves. He thinks it’s an awful movie for kids to watch. I’m sure he’s one of those guys who thinks that children should only watch pleasant things, and should be taught that kindness means everything, and that discomfort must be avoided at all costs.

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Does that sound nice? It shouldn’t – those are the values that turn people into livestock! Life is cruel and the suffering only ends with death (and maybe not even then). Avoiding pain doesn’t lead to pleasure, but to weakness and further suffering. Once we grasp that simple fact, what better lesson could a parent give than to teach their children how to fight and survive, even if it means hurting them?

Godzilla Is Jehova, the Old Testament Kaiju Demon-God

I loved Shin Godzilla because it broke me down psychologically and forced me to reexamine everything I ever believed was true. You see, the lesson of Shin Godzilla is that the best representative of the human spirit is… bureaucracy?!?!

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This seemingly crazy assertion isn’t that much of a stretch. The movie jumps from one bureaucratic agency to another, in effect telling the story of Godzilla’s rampage from the perspective of government employees who have to deal with the chaos. I’ve never seen a movie told from this perspective; it’s some Criterion-level experimental film-making. Any other movie would have followed one bureaucrat, even going so far as to show him or her with their mate, their kids, dealing with the hassles of life, thus forcing the viewer to acknowledge that yes, indeed, this person is a human being – I’d better empathize with them.

But Shin Godzilla races from suit to suit, never really caring if the viewer has a chance to pick out their favorite bureaucrat. The characters aren’t shown as humans first and bureaucrats second, but as bureaucrats first and foremost who happen to have human responses to the situations they’re thrown into.

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I remember in one of the older Evangelion movies, someone said that humanity was the “eighteenth angel”, or that the collective sum of us was a godlike being. Shin Godzilla has a similar lesson, with the spirit of humanity shown as a meta-organism, with bureaucratic organizations as limbs of the meta-organism. Humanity’s strength doesn’t come from the individual, but instead, humanity dominates the planet because each individual can cooperate on a level that no other animal can compete with (except maybe Godzilla). In the older Godzilla movies, they would show military guys tossing out a few missiles, then the camera would zoom in on their horror-stricken faces as Godzilla would take a missile in the ass and not even notice. Then Godzilla would wail on some other monster, get winded, then leave on his own, and the credits would roll while some kids with Stockholm Syndrome would cheer and thank Godzilla for all his help. But in this movie, Godzilla really does face his most dangerous opponent… Godzilla vs. The Human Species.

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Shin Godzilla is a morality tale, a lesson for humanity. I’m not sure when exactly the idea of the “individual” was born historically (maybe the Renaissance?), but Shin Godzilla is an alarm, and it’s warning us that it may be time to prune the tree of individuality. Maybe the human meta-organism starts to look foolish if too many limbs start to mimic one another in a strange caricature of individuality. Just think of all the hardcore “rebels” out there, all fighting “the Man”, all wearing the same edgy clothes and listening to the same music. Unless someone is an artist, or an intellectual, or a wizard, or a diehard eccentric, then maybe it’s better to find a good spot to sit within the bureaucracy and then simply tend to the species in whatever way best suits the temperament of the “individual”. We are certainly in an age when people are getting more entrenched in their respective ideological or ethnic camps, after all.

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As a dude who’s always been a hardcore individual – and I say that without pride, as it has its downside – Shin Godzilla was a powerful psychedelic brew designed to destroy all my childish ideas about how the world works. It’s like when Paul Muad’dib took the Water of Life; before Shin Godzilla, all I saw was darkness, but now I see the big screaming lizard within, praise praise praise his name!

Which brings me to my Godzilla as God point. Before Shin Godzilla, there was an American-made Godzilla film back in 2014. It had a lot of beautiful shots, and there was an unforgettable sequence where some military guys jumped out of a plane and fell through a dark, dusty, burning hellzone while a bunch of giant demons were fighting one another. So good.

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But it also made the mistake that a lot of Godzilla movies make; actors with hefty price tags demanded a lot of screen time, which meant we spent too much time learning about so-and-so’s baby mama drama, which is hard to engage with when you really just want to see a giant monster squat and take a shit on a city in flames.

However, this was the film that gave me the idea that Godzilla truly is God, or at least, the Judeo-Christian-Islamic god-being. If enough people believe in a thing, and meditate on it and speak to it and sing to it, the thoughtform must become real out there in “the internet of spirits” or the world of abstractions or the astral plane… or whatever you want to call a higher realm that affects human behavior, but can’t necessarily be seen or measured. Just think of all those humans circling around the black cube of the Kaaba, or gently smooching the Wailing Wall, or twitchin’ and flailin’ in one of those American megachurches. All of that human intention goes somewhere, and if it’s not being eaten by a hyperdimensional being beyond our comprehension, then it’s surely creating such a being. Either way, it exists!

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So when I was watching the American version of Godzilla, and seeing his raw power, the pure reptilian hatred turned up to one thousand, and fifteen 9-11s happening every minute or so, I couldn’t help but think that GODzilla must surely be a stand-in for that ancient idea (or thought-form) that we’ve been feeding for thousands of years, and which in turn controls our behavior and, many times, ends up destroying or mutilating people beyond recognition. There are surely other such beings. Sports would be a powerful god-being for Godzilla to meet in a “versus” setting. Any political -ism would also surely have its own kaiju equivalent.

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It’s also interesting that Godzilla has represented different things at different times as we transition through the human story we’re in. In the first movie he was like a force of nature punishing humans for their wrongdoing, and it was kind of sad when we had to put him down. Then he became a pro-wrestler, and he was even a little heroic (sort of like an angry drunk belittling you but also giving you good advice). Now he’s like a dark mirror showing us where we are today, but it’s from the perspective of the gods, so neither of us can understand what the other is trying to say, but the atrocities and works of art that result from our attempts at communication make for an interesting story all the same.