Growing up with the monster movies of the 70’s, there have been a lot of modern versions that have not done Godzilla or big monster movies justice in the recent past, including Cloverfield (an OK movie) and especially the Matthew Broderick fronted american version of Godzilla (1998). Meanwhile in Japan, Toho has been cranking out descent Godzilla movies, while certainly B movies, scratched the same itch the 70’s movies did.
Now, given that there hasn’t been an attempt in Japan since 2004 to put another entry into the franchise, and with the moderate success of Pacific Rim (wasn’t terrible, but wasn’t great either), there’s been room for another run at a series. And I say franchise because that’s what Godzilla is– it’s never a single movie, it’s always a series of movies that are judged individually and as a whole so this one is the start, and it was awesome. Godzilla movies are made up of three things: some ecological message telling people that the path we are on of consuming the earth and meddling with atomic forces is extremely dangerous, second, some human drama that ties into the monster part of the film and last, Godzilla fucking everything up everywhere and destroying stuff in awesome fashion for usually half the film. This movie does all of those things in spades. I was a bit worried about the last one, but it was ALL there, just not quite as early in the film as the typical formula.
Godzilla destroying the original American reboot Godzilla from Godzilla: Final Wars
What the new Godzilla did is combine the seriousness of some sort of horror and disaster movies (both the reactor meltdown in Japan and the tidal wave in India are represented in this film, so this hits close to home) with the fun of Kaiju monster battle and mass destruction. It does not pull punches, there is mass chaos, death and destruction in the film including many of the characters–yet it’s also very fun to watch and has some great battle scenes with Godzilla. When you see buildings collapse into rubble, you know there are people inside–unlike some of the Japanese movies, the director makes that clear, but also makes clear that if the main issue of the plot is not dealt with properly MILLIONS will die.
Secondly, nothing is more important than the physical design of Godzilla himself. This could be the one thing that tanked the 98 American movie: that wasn’t fucking Godzilla. I think every single fan of the big guy will say this fucking version in 2014 is undoubtedly Godzilla himself. He has the dog face, he has the girth to his body and the way he fights is spot on. Godzilla has to be awesomely powerful looking and…I hate to say this as a man, lovable at the same time. They nailed it.
All in all, an amazing film, highly entertaining and I cannot wait for the fucking next one– and since the movie will well clear half it’s cost the first WEEKEND of it’s release, this is likely forgone conclusion.