Godzilla begins with a prologue featuring black and white 1950s-style footage of the monster Godzilla lurking beneath the water of the Bikini Atoll. The footage shows an atomic bomb going off and supposedly destroying the creature.
The movie jumps forward to the year 1999. 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 the pods has recently hatched, releasing an offspring of the creature into the ocean.
Meanwhile, Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) is in Japan with his wife Sandra (Juliette Binoche) and their son, Ford. Joe and Sandra are 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 wasteland.
The movie jumps forward again to 2014. Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) is now a man with his own wife and young son. Ford’s father, Joe, is still haunted by his wife’s death and his belief that something sinister lay behind it. Joe lives in Japan and is bent on uncovering the real reason for the nuclear power station’s destruction. After his father is arrested for venturing into the nuclear wasteland, Ford flies to Japan to release him from prison. Joe convinces Ford to go back to the destroyed power plant with him to uncover the truth.
Ford and his father discover a massive cocooned creature that has been feeding on radioactivity for the past 15 years. 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. But the legendary Godzilla, who is the natural enemy of the MUTOs, emerges from the depths of the ocean. A titanic battle erupts.
Godzilla contains intense sequences of mass destruction, battles between soldiers and monsters, many deaths and injuries, and the use of nuclear weapons. Some blood and gore are shown. For example:
- An earthquake causes massive damage to a nuclear power station. Several people are killed and the large nuclear towers crumble and crash to the ground. Later in the movie there are apocalyptic images of the destruction caused by the nuclear accident.
- A giant creature emits an electromagnetic pulse that causes planes to fall from the sky and explode in flames.
- A large passenger plane crashes on a highway and causes mass destruction.
- During the mayhem and destruction created by the MUTOs, one MUTO emits a shockwave and fireball that kills many soldiers. The MUTOs rampage through major cities and destroy skyscrapers which tumble to the ground.
- Tanks, jets and helicopters fire missiles at Godzilla. The jets and helicopters explode in flames and fall to the ground. Soldiers scream 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.
- There are several epic battles between Godzilla and the MUTOs. The creatures bite each other on the neck, smash each other with their tails, breathe fire and throw each other into skyscrapers. 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.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Godzilla has several scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:
- The fossilised skeletal remains of giant prehistoric monsters are found in large underground caves.
- The MUTOs look like a cross between a cockroach and a praying mantis. They have with beak-like mouths, glowing red eyes and gigantic wings. One comes out of a pulsating cocoon. The female has hundreds of red glowing eggs attached to her abdomen, which she later lays.
- Godzilla looks like a Tyrannosaurus Rex with large spines along its back. It swims underwater, walks on its hind legs on land and breathes out blue fire like a flamethrower.
In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, Godzilla has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:
- When a nuclear power station is shaken by an earthquake, 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 can 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 and gets bloody cuts and scrapes on his face. 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 is on the train while his parents are left on the station platform. During the train trip, the train is attacked by a MUTO, and several train passengers slide along the floor of the train carriage and fall to their deaths. A man grabs 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. During his dash to safety several 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.
Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by many of the scenes mentioned above, particularly those involving children.
Most children over 13 years are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in Godzilla.
None of concern
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Godzilla shows some adults drinking socially.
Nudity and sexual activity
None of concern
None of concern
Godzilla has occasional low-level coarse language and occasional name-calling.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Godzilla is a science fiction action movie featuring a familiar character from the past but targeting a new generation of older children and teenagers.
Although the movie doesn’t have much blood and gore, it does have violent and scary scenes, frightening monsters, emotionally intense moments and scenes that show children in danger. Godzilla is therefore not recommended for children under 12 years. We also recommend parental guidance for children aged 12-14 years.
The main message from this movie is that nature is in control of the planet, not people. The movie suggests it’s best to let nature take its course and not interfere.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include:
- the importance of family: the movie present both of its lead male characters, Joe and Ford, as devoted, caring and committed fathers and husbands
- selflessness and empathy: Ford shows empathy when he tries to understand his father’s pain and help him. He also shows selflessness when he puts his life on the line for both friends and strangers.