Due to the success of the 2014 Godzilla movie from Legendary Pictures, Toho decided to reboot their beloved monster franchise. Originally the movies were supposed to end with Godzilla: Final Wars in 2004, but the King of the Monsters proved to be so popular in the latest American film that the Japanese couldn’t resist dusting off the original and putting him back in action.
Except it’s not quite the original. This was a complete reboot, meaning that all of the previous movies from 1954 onwards didn’t happen. It felt a bit weird at first, especially when everyone was gasping in awe at “How can he do that!?” and “Why is he destroying Tokyo!?” Guys, if you had kept the original movies, you’d already know the answers to those questions. And interestingly enough, it was not an actor in a suit this time–apparently they tried the suit, but it didn’t work, so they used motion capture instead. I must say they did a darn good job; it looked like a suit.
The good news is that it kept a lot of the spirit of the original movies–ordinary weapons being useless, important lessons about the dangers of nuclear weapons, Godzilla’s radioactive breath razing Japan to the ground…they even kept the original Godzilla theme! There were some cool new things about Godzilla as well, especially his evolutionary stages (I call Stage 2 Godzilla the Awkward Teenage Years).
Yep, even Godzilla had to put up with puberty.
Speaking of appearances, the Shin Godzilla design was pretty controversial when it was first revealed, but on the whole I liked it. It was definitely more menacing than we’ve seen before. I just didn’t particularly like the arms or the tail; they looked way too disproportionate to the rest of the body. Then again, Godzilla hadn’t reached his final form yet, so perhaps when he was fully grown, everything would have looked fine.
In terms of effects, I think this is the most visually stunning Godzilla movie we’ve ever seen. This was especially evident with the radioactive breath.
Burn, baby, burn…
It wasn’t perfect; the parts without Godzilla seem a bit dull, but I think that’s been true of all the Godzilla movies–we’re here for the monster fights, not the human subplots. But I must say that they did come up with a clever, not-too-pseudo-sciencey way of defeating Godzilla, proving that they actually thought about the story.
What’s my final decision? The Japanese are the only ones who know how to do a decent Godzilla movie; the Americans should never have tried, and I hope we start to see more of Godzilla’s frenemies make a comeback as well.
Long live the King!