Monday, October 24, 2016

Random Thoughts On... Godzilla in general and Shin Godzilla

So, we now have another Godzilla movie on our hands. Shin Godzilla aka Godzilla Resurgence was in limited release over here last week. I was only able to see it on Saturday which ended up being eventful on its own. I also had to fix a kitchen sink, I finally watched the new MacGyver (it’s alright), the Tennessee Vols embarrassed themselves, and my own alma mater (MTSU) lost in a double overtime. All in all, it was an alright day. I thought I’d take some time to talk about the new movie and to just talk about Godzilla himself. If anything, most of this is my history with Godzilla. If you want to hear my thoughts on the new movie, just scroll on down past my little history lesson.

I’ve been a fan of the big guy since I was a kid. My first movie was Ghidorah: The Three-Headed Monster. It was on this old VHS tape which is now unfortunately broken. That movie, Godzilla 1985, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, and a couple of others were the only movies I saw in my youth for a long while. It wasn’t until 1998 (or 1999, it was one of them) when I got to see more Godzilla movies on TV. I got to see the original from 1956. AMC was also playing a marathon of all of them. Oh yeah, I also saw the rebooted Godzilla (aka ‘Godzilla in Name Only’ or ‘Zilla) at Bridgeforth Middle when we had a movie day. I think that movie would have been okay to folk if it wasn’t called ‘Godzilla.’ At least the animated series based on that movie was fine.
The dude was so weak regular missiles took him down! 

On a band trip to Cincinnati, OH, I bought Godzilla Vs. Spacegodzilla on VHS and I still have that one. As for any of the other later ones from Japan, I didn’t see those. I did see Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-out Attack (yes, that is a long title) on the Sci-Fi Channel sometime back then. I actually saw Godzilla: Final Wars, Toho’s final Godzilla movie at that time,  during a pretty tough time. My grandmother had suddenly passed away before the Christmas of 2005. We had a bunch of folk over at the house for the funeral and that was one of movies I rented at Movie Gallery. From what I remember, it had a lot of Matrix-like action and little Godzilla. I’ll have to see it again one day to be sure.

During Godzilla’s hiatus from pretty much everything except the video games (they were okay), a few things kept my interest up. There was James Rolfe doing his thing on Cinemassacre. He reviewed all of the Godzilla movies for one Halloween. There have been a few other folk on YouTube that put out some good content involving Godzilla too. Then, Hollywood decided that one misfire wasn’t enough and rebooted Godzilla again. At least the 2014 movie felt like a Godzilla movie. I did like it but it did come short in couple of places. Most Godzilla movies do that in general, so the 2014 movie is at least in good standing.
Not the best class photo, but I'll take it.

I don’t know what drew me to the franchise. I guess seeing giant monsters kick butt and reign destruction is one reason. As for what keeps me going back to it, I’m not sure either. I think it has to do with the fact that it is different. I’m seeing something from a world and culture different to my own. Also, the stories and ideas in most of the movies are pretty nice. It may be a dude in a costume (at times), but there’s something about it all that is still cool to me. He may not be high on my favorite franchises list, but Godzilla is still close.

Now, we finally get to the recent Toho movie. Unlike most movies from the franchise, Shin Godzilla is a total reboot. Originally, when Toho would revamp the franchise, they’d keep the original Godzilla movie around as a starting point. This movie even throws that out of the water and we get a modern retelling of Godzilla’s first appearance in Japan. In the movie, Japan starts having earthquakes and it’s revealed that a big creature is causing all the trouble. Things escalate as the creature becomes a much more dangerous threat and starts to destroy parts of Japan. The officials in Japan try to do what they can against the threat known eventually named “Godzilla.”

So what did I think?  While I had some qualms about it, I really enjoyed it. It was kind of refreshing to see a Godzilla movie undubbed in a theatre. By the way, it was pretty packed at Opry Mills. It did its best to be serious but also have some nice funny moments. The creators also paid tribute to a lot of things that were in the other movies. Like the original 1954 movie, it tries to say something. A lot of the movie was a satire on how the Japanese government responded to the earthquake and tsunamis from 2011. When it got serious, it got serious especially when Godzilla shows up. I also liked that we got to see how the outside world viewed Godzilla showing up.

As for the big guy himself, he was cool. Toho decided to revamp Godzilla in a major way. Without spoiling too much, he basically evolves into different stages. Throughout the movie, he starts to look more and more like the Godzilla we know. The creepy factor is definitely up with this version. He literally looks terrifying in all of his forms. While we only get a portion of Godzilla doing his thing, it does look good especially when he really lets loose. It may be a bit different from what we’ve seen of Godzilla, but it is Godzilla. Just remember that we’ve seen him do some crazy stuff before like using his fire breath to fly, being a magnet, and playing volleyball.
Hmm... I guess I don't need to see Tokyo anytime soon.

The movie is full of dialogue about the incident, Godzilla, and the solutions on taking him down. While a lot of it worked, there were times where it did get a little too talkative. The subtitles were really moving on this one. Also, the characters are kind of forgettable. No one really stands out but that could have been the culture barrier too. I did like the main character and a couple of others but they didn’t do much to stand out from the crowd to me. I can’t even remember some of their names. I did like the think-tank the main guy put together though. Most of those folk were a bit more energetic and funny.

As I said before, the action in the movie is sparse but pretty good. To be fair, this is how some Godzilla movies are especially the original one from 1954. Set pieces and CGI are used for a lot of the action. Godzilla himself is also fully CGI. While that might depress some kaiju fans, there are points were Godzilla looks practical. I will say his first form didn’t though. While a lot of the movie was pretty polished, there were some effects that didn’t looks so good. Godzilla’s first form is kind of an example. Some other shots also looked didn’t look as good.

Overall, it was an enjoyable time. It had a couple of problems, but the good completely outweighed the bad. The movie left me wondering what Toho will do next with this new Godzilla. If it‘s still showing over here, go check it out. Just know that it is in Japanese with English subtitles. Hopefully, it does get released here on blu-ray or DVD someday.


I guess I got to wrap this thing up somehow. Godzilla was, is, and will always be cool to me. While there are other things I’m more a fan of, this franchise is in there too. Godzilla tearing down things isn’t the only reason I like the movies. The movies are a mish-mash of ideas splashed with all sorts of sci-fi/horror goodness and some fun. It’s also nice to see something that isn’t just made in America since I already get a lot of that. Well, I’m done. Peace, God Bless, and remember to laugh even in the toughest times. Case in point, here is a gif of Godzilla sliding on his tail to kick a monster being held by a really happy robot.

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