I know I am late on this one, but I thought it was pretty damned good, well above expectations. I feel comfortable placing it in the top five Godzilla movies of all time. The visuals are spectacular but not overdone, and it pays appropriate homage to its sources, including the Japanese original but also Hitchcock’s The Birds. The movie also treats nuclear weapons use with the moral seriousness it deserves, which is rare these days.
And is there a Straussian reading? Well, yes (did you have to ask?). The film is really a plea for an extended and revitalized Japanese-American alliance. The real threat to the world are the Mutos, not Godzilla, who ends up defending America, after the lead Japanese character in the movie promises the American military Godzilla will be there as our friend (don’t kill me, that is not a major spoiler as it is telegraphed way in advance).
The Mutos, by the way, are basically Chinese mythological dragons, and an image of two kissing Muto-like beings is shown over the gate of San Francisco’s Chinatown three different times in the movie, each time with greater conspicuousness. The Mutos base themselves in Chinatown in fact. Note that the Mutos can beat up on Godzilla because of their greater numbers, but as for one-on-one there is no doubt Godzilla is more fierce. And the name of the being — Muto — what does that mean? I believe loyal MR readers already know, and apologies for reminding you. General Akira Muto led the worst excesses committed by Japanese troops during the Rape of Nanjing, perhaps the single biggest Chinese grievance against The Land of the Rising Sun, and thus the beings are a sign of the Chinese desire for redress and revenge. Unless of course the right military alliance comes along to contain them and save the world…
The references to Pearl Harbor and the Philippines are not accidents either.