Alright people, the new Godzilla movie is so great that it makes you forget about the stain from the 1998 version!
It works on so many levels and left me feeling so satisfied and relieved that Hollywood finally got Godzilla right. That’s because of the director of Godzilla, Gareth Edwards. When making this film, he wanted to emulate the mood established with the classic Jaws. First have characters, then present inferred appearances by the monster, then fully reveal the monster in all of its glory. In this movie, we the audience only see parts of Godzilla at first, a fin here, a tail there. But don’t worry, when he’s finally revealed it’s a gasp-inducing moment! It’s a huge payoff. But more than that this really feels like a Godzilla movie or at least how Godzilla was like in his early movies.
This version of Godzilla is a sort of quasi-sequel to the original 1954 classic and it pretends that the sequels that followed never existed. This film sticks to its Japanese origins, which is important and the creature looks and sounds like Godzilla. This Godzilla has his trademark atomic breath, but it’s white hot and his back fins glow before he fires as seen with the recent Japanese films. It’s works for Godzilla and there wasn’t any reason to change it. Gareth Edwards and the other filmmakers understood that it was important to deliver the gargantuan force of nature that defines the monster unlike the ’98 version.
What’s more they embellished the nature of Godzilla by the revelation that he is a part of a group of animals known as alpha predators that existed before dinosaurs and was raised in a primordial Earth bathed in radiation. So it makes sense that he is awakened in the 1950s when mankind started testing nuclear weapons.
That’s just one of the many cool things about Godzilla. There are also the pounding Kaiju fights, which brought out gasps and applause from the audience I saw it with. Even the opening credits are stunning. The credits are supposed to appear like classified documents that are redacted, it helped set the dark, serious tone of the movie, which was best shown with the ominous HALO jump seen in the trailers. Edwards uses for that scene the same eerie chorus heard in 2001: A Space Odyssey and it’s very effective.
The characters themselves are decent and serve their purpose though there aren’t any breakout characters. But that shouldn’t deter anyone from skipping out on Godzilla. It’s a terrific monster movie thanks to its moody tone and its faithful interpretation of the King of the Monsters.
Steven L. Walterson
With the release of a new American-made film Godzilla coming on May 16th, there is hope (based on the trailers) that the mistakes made in the previous American effort won’t be repeated. That film from 1998 directed by Roland Emmerich had a giant iguana-type creature that ran through the rainy streets of NYC and dodged fire from attack helicopters, which ended up hitting many buildings. It was shown that the army did more damage to the city than Godzilla himself, and he was vulnerable to their attacks when he was hit. This description illustrates what went wrong with that film and shows what Godzilla isn’t.
In all of his Japanese films, Godzilla is portrayed as an unstoppable force of nature that has to be endured. He causes massive destruction on an unimaginable scale, almost like a typhoon or tornado. That is why military strikes against him don’t really work. You can’t bomb a hurricane into submission. All you can do is wait for it to pass and deal with the aftermath. The ’98 film Godzilla didn’t seem to grasp this concept and made Godzilla seem like your run-of-the-mill monster. If it was not called Godzilla, the movie can be enjoyed as a decent monster flick. But when given the title Godzilla, there are certain expectations that fans have, and hopefully the new film will fulfill them.
So far, the trailers for the latest Godzilla film seem to show the same serious tone that the original 1954 film had with a dark and moody feel. They also evoke a sense of dread and awe at the sheer size of Godzilla, and the chaos he leaves in his wake.
If done correctly, this film can lead to a new series of American-made Godzilla movies and reestablish the character as a film icon, something the ’98 film failed to do. That misstep forced Toho films to resume making their own Godzilla movies. The first of which (Godzilla 2000) was a nice return to form for the Big G. The new film will also have him fighting other creatures, which should be fun to see and bring back memories of his many bouts with other fan favorites like Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidora. The thing with those films is that they were somewhat more light hearted in tone than the original film. So hopefully this new one will combine the serious outlook of the 1954 film with the monster match ups of later Godzilla movies.
In any case, it is nice to see another Godzilla movie after 10 years of his absence since Godzilla: Final Wars from 2004, and should bring the King of The Monsters renewed attention and attract new fans.