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~Ephesians 5:16

Saturday, May 16, 2015

GODZILLA: One Year Later

It's amazing when you stop and think about how things come together over the years. I remember when the first announcement came that Legendary Pictures had acquired the rights to Godzilla to produce a new American film. After the 1998 disaster, many were rightfully skeptical. Four years later it arrived and put to rest any worries. Despite personal preferences, most agreed it was a well-made film.

The Godzilla fanbase is passionate. It's much like Star Wars when if you engage someone whom has years of knowledge, prepare yourself for an extensive conversation. Unlike Star Wars however, prior to the new film Godzilla was more of a niche in the States. Many associated G with being cheesy, a joke, and nothing to be taken seriously. That's why fans such as myself were looking forward to this movie, because with a new, serious adaption, the monster could finally have much needed respect in America. That, and the fact it would be the first G film since Final Wars back in 2004.

I was a bit skeptical when it was confirmed that Gareth Edwards would be directing. He had previously directed the independent film MONSTERS. That movie upon first watching was disappointing because the marketing portrayed it as a big monster flick. The alien creatures have very little screen time. It's essentially a drama with a monster backdrop. In retrospect it's a quality film, but at the time it was easy to see why many were skeptical. The Japanese Godzilla films pride themselves for its monster destruction, so there was some fear that Edwards would do the something like he did with MONSTERS. Thankfully, by the time the end credits had rolled, most viewers were convinced that the big G was in good hands.

The first ever look we got of G, back in 2012
I remember when the first teaser came out, and only a select few were able to view it since it was Comic Con exclusive. Eventually it was leaked online and everyone in the world quickly absorbed it. It was quite ominous, presenting G as a rather horrific figure against the Oppenheimer "Destroyer of Worlds" audio. This is perhaps the most infamous thing about the movie. Almost all of the marketing portrayed G as a terrifying, relentless monster of destruction, much like the original 1954 film. The movie shocked me and many others when Godzilla emerged as a hero, with even the words, "King of the Monsters - savior of our city?" displayed near the ending. Many were disappointed that G wouldn't be returning to his horror roots, while others like myself enjoyed the portrayal. Personally, I find Godzilla's heroic days in the 60's/70's to be the most entertaining era of the Japanese films. Legendary's portrayal in my opinion was a perfect blend of the heroic Godzilla from that era and the destructive force seen in films like Return of Godzilla and GODZILLA 2000.

The design for G was kept under wraps for a very long time. Arguably, it was the most hyped aspect. When fully unveiled, no major complaints were had. Still, some didn't like the elephant-like feet, and how little his eyes were. Any complaints I personally had were rendered moot when he was in motion. Right when he entered the airport to battle the Muto the design quickly became one of my favorites.

Speaking of Muto, one of the most intriguing parts of marketing was its reluctance to showcase the antagonist monster. When the film finally arrived, viewers were treated to very unique and awesome creatures for G to do battle with. The fights in this movie to me were a bit more on the mixed side. When G first arrives to battle Muto, it looks like a grand battle was about to take place but instead it's reduced to being on the news for a few seconds. This was funny the first time around in the theater, but in subsequent viewings it's a disappointment. The second fight is also a tease. The climax is very exciting, but suffers a little from the fact that it cuts away to the soldiers too often. Still, it's hard to deny the greatness of such scenes like G using his tail to slap the male Muto into a building and the first time he uses his atomic blast. (Both scenes garnered great cheer from the audience in the theater.) While the climax could have been better, it nonetheless was one of the more thematic battles of 2014 and showed what a modern Godzilla brawl can look like.

Contrary to popular belief, there are many Godzilla movies with top notch acting performances. Films like MONSTER ZERO and Gojira have Oscar worthy portrayals. While the new film doesn't have any award winners, the cast is nonetheless solid. Many were dismayed when the film killed off Bryan Cranston's character Joe Brody early on, whom according to many was easily the best character. His son Ford took center stage from then on. Many said he was too dull, with little emotion. While I can agree, I think it's important to remember that could be his character as part of being military. Either way, I think if he comes back for the sequel he'll be better.

It's already been confirmed that we'll getting two sequels, one of which is coming in 2018. The awesome part is that Legendary has the rights to classic TOHO monsters Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah for use. It's an exciting time for G fans, and will continue to be so as other companies capitalize. (TOHO themselves will be releasing a brand new film in the Japanese series next year!)

One year later has gone by, and every Godzilla fan remembers it like it was yesterday. It is unfortunate that the film only made $528 million worldwide. That may sound like a lot, but Transformers: Age of Extinction from that same year and the new Fast and the Furious both have made over $1 billion. GODZILLA doesn't rely on mindless explosions, sexual appeal, or sarcastic wit to tell a story. But, modern American audiences want the three things just listed rather than a serious adventure, which is disappointing. This doesn't change the fact that G was still a hit and will remain engraved in film culture. Now a fan can go around asking others, "hey have you seen Godzilla?"and get into good conversations, even though they might not have seen the Japanese films.

It was all thanks to this day, May 16th, last year that Godzilla has a resurgence of popularity worldwide. I look forward to seeing what Edwards and Legendary bring to the table in three years.

1 comment:

  1. Godzilla was certainly a very fun film. I'll never forget the first time that I saw it! America finally has a G film that we can be proud of and hopefully the next one will give us a little more Kaiju action.