A few weeks ago, Chloe and I went to watch the new Godzilla, which our parents had already seen and liked.
If you aren't familiar with Godzilla, it is a giant, dinosaur-like monster that first came about in Japanese films in the 1950s. It has since become an international popular culture icon, becoming the star in numerous film adaptations, comic books, TV shows, and video games. The premise of the new film: two ancient monsters called Mutos are awakened and begin wreaking havoc around the world in order to accomplish their main goal of reproducing. Godzilla is supposedly the heroic, god-like creature meant to come in and take these Mutos down for the purpose of restoring the natural balance of the world. Ford Brody, the main human protagonist, takes it upon himself to protect U.S. from the Mutos.
The funny thing here is that the franchise originated in Japan. I actually haven't seen any of the old movies, but I'm going to assume that they—at least the Japanese ones—don't use Japan and its people as merely the backdrop against which white protagonists can shine and save the day. And that's essentially what the new film does: the main character, Ford Brody, is a white man who heroically fights to destroy the Mutos. He knows a little more about the Mutos because his father was obsessed with researching them, but where are all the Japanese characters who researched them, too? Nonexistent, really—except for Dr. Ishiro Serizawa, one of the members of a monster research group.
The funny thing about Dr. Serizawa is that he doesn't really DO anything. He says some of the key lines in the film, like: "[Godzilla] will restore the balance," and "The arrogance of men is thinking nature is in their control and not the other way around," and "Let them fight" (referring to Godzilla and the Mutos). I honestly think I might have heard those lines in Avatar: The Last Airbender—that's how much they seem like the stereotypical "Asian words of wisdom." Except that's basically all Serizawa's character does. He doesn't even really contribute anything substantial to the research about the Mutos.
None of this is to say the film wasn't enjoyable to watch—it was. I will say it was kind of sad that the Mutos died, because they were actually pretty cute when they weren't viciously attacking Godzilla. And there were a lot of things that didn't make sense. But if you're looking for a fun science-fiction movie to watch, this is a good one.