Australian Council on Children and the Media

Godzilla

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Not recommended under 12, parental guidance recommended 12-14 (Violence; Scary and disturbing scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Godzilla
  • a review of Godzilla completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 20 May 2014.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 12 Not recommended due to violence and scary and disturbing scenes
Children 12-14 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and scary and disturbing scenes
Children 14 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Godzilla
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Science fiction themes and violence
Length 123 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The film begins with a prologue featuring black and white 1950’s style footage of a monster named Godzilla lurking beneath the water of the Bikini Atoll and the detonation of an atomic bomb which supposedly destroys the creature.

The film jumps forward to the year 1999 where scientists Dr Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins) are in the Philippines investigating underground caverns.  They discover the fossilised remains of a gigantic dinosaur-like creature and two egg-shaped pods, one of which has recently hatched, releasing an offspring of the creature into the ocean.    

Meanwhile in Japan, Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) and his wife Sandra (Juliette Binoche) who have a young son called Ford, are responsible for investigating the safety of a nuclear power station which is experiencing seismic activity. While they are there, the power station is destroyed by a massive explosion, killing Sandra and leaving the surrounding area a nuclear waste-land.  

The film jumps to the year 2014 where we find Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), now a grown man with his own wife and young son. Ford’s father Joe, who is still haunted by his wife’s death and his belief that something sinister lay behind it, lives in Japan and is bent on uncovering the real reason for the destruction of the nuclear power station. After his father is arrested for venturing into the nuclear wasteland, Ford flies to Japan to release him from prison. Joe manages to convince Ford that there is some validity to his story and they go back to the destroyed power plant to find their proof. 

What Ford and his father discover is a massive cocooned creature which has been feeding for the past fifteen years from the radioactivity emitted from the ruins of the power plant. As Ford and Joe observe the pulsating cocoon, the MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) breaks out, wreaking destruction and death before it spreads its massive wings and flies off in search of a mate.

After the MUTO finds its mate, the two creatures threaten the future of the world until a third gigantic creature, the legendary Godzilla, who is the natural enemy of the two MUTOs emerges from the depth of the ocean and a titanic battle erupts.         

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Nuclear power and radiation; prehistoric creatures; government conspiracy

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film contains intense sequences of mass destruction, battles between soldiers and monsters, multiple deaths and injury, and the use of nuclear weapons. Some blood and gore are depicted. Examples include:

  • An earth quake causes massive destruction to a nuclear power station. A number of people are killed and the large nuclear towers crumble and crash to the ground. Later in the film we see apocalyptic images of the destruction caused by the nuclear accident.  
  • A giant creature emits an electromagnetic pulse causing planes to fall from the sky and explode in flames.
  • A large passenger plane crashes on a highway causing mass destruction.
  • During the mayhem and destruction created by the MUTOs we see one of the creatures emitting a shockwave and fireball that kills many soldiers. The creatures rampage through major cities, destroying skyscraper buildings that tumble to the ground.
  • Tanks, jet plane and helicopters fire missiles at Godzilla and jet planes and helicopters explode in flames and fall to the ground. We hear the sounds of soldiers screaming over the radio as they are attacked. A river is littered with destroyed and burning army vehicles and a train runs off a destroyed track and into a river.    
  • We see a number of epic battles between Godzilla and the MUTOs during which the creatures bite each other on the neck, smash each other with their tails, breathe fire and throw each other into skyscraper buildings. There is loud roaring and screeching. One creature is impaled through the back by building debris.
  • Godzilla forces the female MUTO’s mouth open to breathe fire down her throat and then drops her broken body into a bay; black gore covers her broken mouth and head.     

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there numerous scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • The fossilised skeletal remains of giant prehistoric monsters are found in large underground caves.
  • The MUTOs are like giant insects, resembling a cross between a cockroach and a praying mantis with a beak-like mouth, glowing red eyes and gigantic wings. We see one emerge from a pulsating cocoon.  The female has hundreds of red glowing eggs attached to her abdomen and later lays these.
  • Godzilla looks like a Tyrannosaurus Rex with large spines along its back. The creature swims underwater, walk on its hind legs on land and breathes out blue fire like a flame thrower. 

 

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • When a nuclear power station is shaken by an earth quake, a group of people inside run through tunnels to escape from a cloud of nuclear dust. Joe holds a door open for the people but he is forced to shut it before they are able to escape. There are emotional scenes of Joe looking through a glass panel at the people trapped on the other side, including his wife. The couple cry desperately as they say goodbye to each other. 
  • Joe Ford is injured after the MUTO emerges from its cocoon. He falls from a collapsing bridge with some blood cuts and scrapes on his face and, in an emotional scene, he dies as his adult son looks on.          
  • A young boy is separated from his parents at a train station; the boy on the train while his parents are left on the station platform. During the train trip, the train is attacked by a MUTO and a number of train passengers slide along the floor of the train carriage and fall to their deaths. A man manages to grab hold of the boy’s hand in the nick of time, preventing him from sliding out of the back of the carriage.     
  • A man carrying his young daughter runs away from an approaching tsunami.  He runs into a building to escape but during his dash to safety a number of people are swept away by the water.
  • A busload of children is on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge as a battle erupts between the army and Godzilla. Godzilla destroys part of the bridge,  rockets explode against the bridge and the army uses tanks, jets and helicopters to attack Godzilla. The bus makes a reckless journey across the bridge to escape.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by many of the above-mentioned scenes, particularly those involving children.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Most children over 13 are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

Social drinking by adults.

Coarse language

The film contains occasional low-level coarse language and occasional name calling. Examples include:

  • “What the hell”; “hell”; “Jesus”; “damn it”; “holy shit”

In a nutshell

Godzilla is a science fiction action film featuring a familiar character from the past but targeting a new generation of adolescents. While the film contains minimal depiction of blood and gore it does contain violent and scary scenes, frightening monsters, some emotionally intense moments and scenes depicting children in danger. The film is therefore not recommended for under 12s with parental guidance recommended for children aged 12-14.

The main message from this movie is that nature is in control of the planet not people and it is best to let nature take its course and not interfere.

 Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • The importance of family: Both of the film’s lead male characters Joe and Ford (father and son) are depicted as devoted, caring and committed fathers and husbands.
  • Selflessness and empathy: Ford displays empathy towards his father when he tries to understand his father’s pain and help him. He also displays selflessness throughout the film as he puts his life on the line for both friends and strangers.   

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