Go Go Godzilla!

Gojira Kaiju Alpha
Godzilla’s getting another reboot. Hopefully this one will achieve the perfect balance between great CGI monster and guy in a rubber suit. Nostalgia is a funny thing. Your taste has grown much more sophisticated since you first watched Godzilla tromping on a Tokyo festooned with power lines and elevated train tracks. You probably saw the dubbed version with Raymond Burr spliced in to  make it “better” for English-speaking audiences. It’s been in heavy rotation on Saturday TV monster movie matinees ever since.

You may have seen the “director’s cut”–how we love those!–with Burr and dubbing removed. “It’s a classic! It’s been restored and it’s really deep and meaningful,” you may have been told by a loved one who did not want to watch it alone. Said loved one may have taken an impromptu nap during the viewing. Perhaps subtitles make him or her sleepy. No matter. It’s not quite better, just different–but not in a way that makes you want to re-watch the dubbed version to better appreciate the subtleties of Toho’s original 1954 Gojira.

If you so desire, you can pick up a DVD that includes the 1955 sequel, Gojira Raids Again, and the 1959 American version, heavily edited and dubbed, featuring the voice of George Takei. If you do, I would recommend that you lie down and consult your doctor for any desire lasting longer than 4 minutes.

Here’s the thing. There are 29 Godzilla movies–30 if you include the one opening tomorrow. That is a lot of Godzilla! Have you seen all of them or have you gradually lost track of them over the years? Maybe it happened after you saw Star Wars or just about anything else with decent special effects. When Toho Studios made its last Godzilla movie in 2004 to celebrate its 50th anniversary, it was still using a guy in a rubber suit. So if you saw it, I’m guessing you were wishing a giant foot would flatten the theater and end your misery.

So why did Roland Emmerich’s 1998 Godzilla redux get excoriated by fans? Because it didn’t look like the old Godzilla. It was designed to be more “realistic.” As in, if a huge lizard/dinosaur-type hell beast did, in fact, exist, it would probably look a lot more like this than the guy sweating it out in Barney’s Angry Cousin costume. But it wasn’t faithful enough to the original. Why does it matter? It’s like our memories don beer goggles when we reflect on “the classics.”

The ads for the new flick look great. Bryan Cranston classes up the proceedings and the effects look tremendous. At the same time, Godzilla looks similar to the original, save a slightly elongated muzzle and a protracted roar that’s plenty creepy but lacks the distorted feedback exhaust note at the end. We have high expectations of our monster movies. Let’s leave our goggles at home and have fun.

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