Last summer, young moviegoers got their first teasing glimpse of Godzilla when previews featured the beast's foot crashing through a museum ceiling and pulverizing a dinosaur skeleton. Audiences loved it. They cheered for more. In the year that followed, a marketing campaign trading on hype and secrecy raised expectations even higher using the oft-repeated slogan "Size Does Matter." So, what happened when Godzilla finally roared onto a record 7,363 movie screens?
Despite a first-week box-office take of more than $60 million, the radioactive lizard has endured a critical drubbing. Entertainment Weekly declared that Godzilla "lumbers more than it thrills." Another reviewer gave it just one out of four stars, citing its "derivative grade-school-level story" (nuclear reptile visits New York City and trashes the place before a handful of heroes accomplish what the inept military can't). And although such bad word-of-mouth has spread like chickenpox, Sony's Jeff Blake has stated that exit polls are "absolutely through the roof for the kids." It would seem that jaw-dropping special effects are sufficient to impress young sci-fi buffs.
That being the case, parents should know the film's pros and cons before allowing children to check it out. The biggest problem for Christian families will be the language. No f-words or s-words, but crude slang is punctuated by at least six profane uses of the Lord's name.
As for violence, the human casualties that do occur are handled quite discreetly for a PG-13 release. No blood and gore. In fact, Godzilla shows more restraint than last summer's dino movie, The Lost World. Who can families thank for this display of self-regulation? Roland Emmerich's mother. Godzilla's director/co-writer/producer told USA Today that his mom had expressed displeasure with the graphic violence in one of his earlier films. According to Emmerich, "She said, 'You ought to do a nice movie.'" Who says moms can't impact Hollywood?
There are moments when Godzilla is a fun—if extremely shallow and implausible—popcorn flick. And as PG-13 actioners go, throttles back on objectionable content. But the abuse of God's name will be enough to earn it a thumbs down in many homes. Size may matter, but some things matter more.