Godzilla- and the movies- occupy a weird place in my geek headspace. What is he (it?)- how do I think about him/it/whatever? (For purposes of readability and my own sanity I will henceforth refer to the Big Man as “he”.)
So we’ve got a movie coming this summer with HIM. What does that mean?
So the problem that I have with Oscar the Grouch’s BIG brother is that I don’t know how to think about these movies. Off the top of my head, I can think of three potential options. What bucket do I drop his scaly ass into?
- Monster- I need to root against him.
- Force of nature/Natural Disaster- I should just hope for the small fry to survive him.
- Good guy- Maybe he’s an avenging angel. He’s here to punish mankind for its collective (ecological) sins.
These are all, arguably, viable options. But here’s the problem(s) I run into…
- Well, this doesn’t seem like much of a fair fight. Even Dracula had a significant vulnerability to the sun- you know that GREAT BIG BALL THAT SHINES DOWN ON THE ENTIRE EARTH FOR AROUND 12 HOURS A DAY…
- That’s weird. Would you call a volcano “Larry” or observe that a tsunami seemed “sulky”?
- Death to the filthy humans! (Not a whole lot of character development here.)
Is this an inherent difference in culture? Japan and United States see things differently? (Please note- this is a question of culture, not ethnicity, for what it’s worth.) Japan has produced kaiju movies steadily since Godzilla’s 1950’s Atomic Age birth. America, meanwhile, is a secondary market for these stories. Maybe I’m not alone.
We’ve tried- lord knows we’ve tried. Matthew Broderick starred in a turn of the century (that sounds weird even though it’s accurate) American reboot. For me, Godzilla ’98 is notable for exactly two things. One is an amazing cover of “Heroes” by The Wallflowers. The other is the god-awful Diddy-rape of “Kashmir” aka “Come With Me” (no thanks, I’ll just stay here with the atomic fire-breathing dinosaur…).
Hey- we kept trying. The brilliant Guillermo del Toro tried a few years ago with Pacific Rim. It was a good sci-fi/action movie. But it didn’t feel like a Godzilla movie. Why would I care that a character’s brother got plucked out of a machine and chomped? There are like a thousand other backstories in a Godzilla movie. Just because those buildings that the guy in the rubber suit was stomping were cardboard doesn’t mean that the imaginary little cardboard people’s struggles were any less real. (Don’t think too hard on that point. Seriously. Drink up and move on. Nothing to see here.) In the end, OK movie- but it sure didn’t feel like a Godzilla movie.
We’ll see whether America embraces Godzilla this time around. Will the brilliant scientist Walter White whatever-Bryan-Cranston’s-character-is-called succeed in rescuing humanity from the emerald tidal wave of destruction that is Godzilla? (Really? Breaking Bad ends and Godzilla is your dream role?) I don’t know. Maybe I’ll take my boys. But I don’t know which side to root for…