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Godzilla Is Coming! Run for the Theaters!

By Sean M. Peters · May 21st, 2014 · Movies
ac_film_godzilla_warnerbrosWarner Brothers

 Cincinnati, we need to have a long overdue discussion. 

What do we do if Godzilla rampages through our city? Would the streetcar help in this scenario? Sure, a bit. Maybe it could stub Godzilla’s toe.

Standing 150 meters high in the reboot of the 60-year-old film franchise, Godzilla could do a lot of damage to Cincinnati. The mutated dinosaur is nearly the size of Carew Tower, meaning Godzilla could easily slam dunk Great American Tower at Queen City Square. The King of Monsters does not suffer from “T-Rex tiny arm syndrome.” 

Godzilla, the latest giant monster film in theaters, depicts a rampaging metaphor of a post-nuclear, pre-apocalyptic age. The atomic dino colossus is stunning to behold, gigantic in a way that pits your imagination against logic. While the film features emotionally powerful performances by Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Bryan Cranston, the movie’s most dramatic actors are Godzilla and the huge insects known as M.U.T.O.s, or “Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms.” 

Director Gareth Edwards does justice to the beloved kaiju (strange beast). Godzilla is a brilliant and worthy reboot. By respecting its large pool of source material while embracing modern cinematic storytelling techniques, Edwards’ film is an enlightening first impression for new fans and an exciting new continuity for lifelong devotees to follow.

Godzilla raced to the top of box office charts on its opening weekend, with many fans already wondering how soon we can expect a sequel. 

Godzilla’s gotten a harsh rap from cinema fans over the years.

Brushed aside by critics as B-grade Sci-Fi fluff, it’s evident not many adults were taking Godzilla too seriously after the films started getting sillier and less plausible (Godzilla vs. Megalon), losing the sharp social criticisms and philosophical quandaries upon which the series was built. After awhile, all audiences could see was a guy in a rubber suit (most notably Haruo Nakajima, who wore the Godzilla suit for 23 years). 

The new film is the second time an American has attempted to revive the series, as our country must claim credit for the 1998 Roland Emmerich film starring Matthew Broderick, which fans of the Godzilla lineage have come to call “G.I.N.O.”: Godzilla In Name Only. This year’s Godzilla was designed to resemble its original shape, meaning the body is closer in resemblance to a human. Emmerich’s film based its monster on a mutated iguana, and many fans were not amused. Fun fact: Toho Co., Ltd., the film company responsible for Godzilla from the start, disowned Emmerich’s Godzilla and revoked TriStar Pictures’ rights to the Godzilla brand, forcing it to officially rename the beast “Zilla” (there is no God!) and blocked it from making a sequel despite the fact the film took in $44 million during opening weekend, the highest of the year — even beating out Saving Private Ryan. 

Without a doubt, this film will help to usher a new era of the kaiju genre. Standing alongside Pacific Rim, the monster movie is back and bigger than ever. Godzilla has tripled in size since 1954 to keep up with taller skyscrapers being built. It’s obvious the design team worked hard to make an imposing monster that is not terrifying enough to scare off kids and potential toy sales. While there aren’t any creepy singing twins summoning Mothra in the new film, it’s obvious the filmmakers keep their roots in mind. The M.U.T.O. rather resemble Gigan (Godzilla vs. Gigan, available to watch for free on Hulu) with their thin, scythe-like claws and emotionless faces.  

The monster’s design is the single most intriguing aspect of the film. Our new Godzilla is believable. The character has had more than half a century to evolve through alterations and modernization, including artistic interpretations that significantly increased the size of the monster’s tail and dorsal plates. 

Godzilla has successfully overcome the cinematic need for total nostalgia and updated itself to appropriately startle and inspire awe. The latest installment is a solid return to the beloved beast’s heritage, masterfully updated to woo audiences into hysterics. 

If Godzilla ever decides to visit a Reds game, he’d have no trouble watching from the river. Let’s just hope he doesn’t try to navigate Great American Ball Park to get a couple thousand beers to quench an upset stomach from too much atomic breath. 

Check out Hulu if you’re interested in seeing the original 1954 Japanese film Gojira and a slew of other Godzilla films that helped to establish the giant monster’s eternal fame.


CONTACT SEAN M. PETERS: letters@citybeat.com

 
 
 
 

 

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