The long journey is over. I have finally watched all 28 films in the Godzilla franchise. While I had seen almost every movie in the Showa series (1954-1975), most of the Heisei series (1984-1995) and all of the Millennium series (1999-2004) were first time viewings. Now, there are still some Toho and Kaiju flicks waiting for me to discover them, such as the last 2/3 of the Gamera series (which is on my plan for 2014). Before I offer up some final thoughts, I did take the plunge and revisited the 1998 disaster called Godzilla. I had no desire to give a full review on this movie, especially until I had finished with the real Godzilla series, but I felt it was worth a paragraph.
The 1998 movie called Godzilla is not really a Godzilla movie. It is a movie about a giant monster terrorizing New York City. Go into with that frame of mind and you’ll be okay. Leaving the name Godzilla out of it, you might actually have some fun with the movie. However, that is almost impossible to do. The movie requires some pretty big leaps of faith and suspension of reality, even for a Godzilla movie. I usually enjoy Matthew Broderick but he was quite wrong for this movie. In fact, the casting and script make this seem more like a comedy at times. And why didn’t they stick with Stan Winston’s design? Needless to say, this movie does not feature Godzilla. Okay, enough said about that.
I thoroughly enjoy watching a Godzilla movie. Yes, after 28 movies, the plots and action are often very repetitive. The supporting storylines are almost always secondary to Godzilla and the battles he has with the monster of the day. As the Showa series wore on, Godzilla turned more cartoonish in both appearance and actions. With his return in 1984 in the Heisei series, there was some promise of darker days ahead. However, I could never get into the Heisei films. The special effects now seem very dated rather than nostalgic (as they feel in the Showa series) and some of the themes and characters were just too annoying. I enjoyed them but doubt I’ll revisit them anytime soon. I went into the Millennium series cautiously and was pleasantly surprised. Despite the occasional low, it was an incredibly fun journey.
1. Gojira (1954) – the big guy is never more menacing than he is here, in glorious black and white
2. Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster (1964) – many fond memories of discovering this one as a kid, Ghidorah is my favorite of all Godzilla adversaries
3. Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001) – just a fun movie with some great battle sequences
1. All Monsters Attack aka Godzilla’s Revenge (1969) – this one is just painful as I cannot stand the story and Minilla really annoys me
2. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991) – the Futurians really bothered me, poor special effects with the running robot were painful to watch
3. Godzila vs. The Sea Monster (1967) aka Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966) – jazz soundtrack, giant shrimp, Godzilla not acting like Godzilla (granted, it originally wasn’t intended for Godzilla), ‘nuff said
And there you go! This has been fun but the journey really isn’t over. On May 14, Legendary Pictures brings us Godzilla. For better or worse, I plan on going opening weekend and I’ll be reviewing it here. It can’t be as bad the 1998 flick…can it? Actually, if the trailer is any indication, we could be in for some fun. It looks to be a serious effort and, best of all, Godzilla looks like Godzilla. Until then, I’ll be concentrating on other movies but I do plan on checking out the rest of the Gamera series. So don’t be surprised if I offer up some thoughts on that series from time to time. Until then, we’ll see you at the box office.