Monday, June 11, 2012

Missing in action: Godzilla

I can still remember little bits and pieces of my experience watching my first Godzilla movie. I got to see Destroy All Monsters(1968) and Toei's sci fi schlocker The Green Slime(1968) one afternoon in 1969 at the Rialto Theater in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. I can remember it being a sunny afternoon, the theater mostly empty and a lingering odor of stale popcorn and peanuts in the air inside the theater. After watching Destroy All Monsters I was hooked...on Godzilla and giant monsters, but especially Godzilla. Back during my days as a pre teen and teenager there were no DVDs, no VHS tapes and no internet by which I could immerse myself in Toho's famed monster. Even issues of "Famous Monsters Of Filmland" were hard for me to come by. To see Godzilla I had to catch the monster in one of his movies during an odd overnight hour. Still, I managed to catch many of the classic Godzilla movies on Atlanta station WTCG(now TBS-Turner Broadcasting System) as well as classic 60's Gamera films and other Daiei produced films like the "Daimajin" films that feature the giant stone god come to life.

From the very first Godzilla film in 1954 up until 1975, Godzilla was a very busy star for the Toho Motion Picture Company appearing in the following films: Gojira(1954), Godzilla Raids Again(1955), King Kong Vs Godzilla(1962), Mothra Vs Godzilla(1964), Invasion Of The Astro Monsters(1965), Ebirah Horror Of The Deep(1966), Son Of Godzilla(1967), Destroy All Monsters(1968), All Monsters Attack(1969), Godzilla Vs The Smog Monster(1971), Godzilla Vs Gigan(1972), Godzilla Vs Megalon(1973), Godzilla Vs Mechagodzilla9(1974) & Terror Of Mechagodzilla(1975).

Then came a nine year hiatus and Toho's legendary monster would not appear again theatrically until 1984 with The Return Of Godzilla. What followed was another series of movies including Godzilla Vs Biollante(1989), Godzilla Vs King Ghidorah(1991), Godzilla Vs Mechagodzilla(1993), Godzilla Vs Space Godzilla(1994) & Godzilla Vs Destroyer(1995). In the '95 movie Godzilla suffers a meltdown from his own internally generated radioactivity and dies.

In 1998 Centropolis produced Godzilla, a film I like as a giant monster movie but believe ultimately fails as a "Godzilla" movie because it fails to capture the true essence of the monster as a menace to mankind. In December, 1999 Toho released Godzilla 2000 and followed this movie up with Godzilla Vs Megaguirus(2000), Godzilla, Mothra & King Ghidorah: All Out Monsters Attack(2001), Godzilla X(against) Mechagodzilla(2002), Godzilla-Tokyo SOS(2003) & Godzilla Final Wars(2004), the latter an action packed film to be sure but also a movie I believe lacks for giant monster action and instead is far too heavy on "Matrix" style special effects. This last G film was released theatrically in Japan back in December, 2004. It's been well over seven years since that movie but for me it might as well be an eternity.

In January, 2008 Paramount released Cloverfield, a "point of view" shot movie featuring an enormous and hostile aquatic monster and its landfall in New York City. I like this movie despite my considerable disdain for the "point of view" aspect of the film. The sequel for "Cloverfield" has been stuck in development hell for some time now.

It was announced last year that Legendary Pictures had acquired the rights to Godzilla(from Toho) in order to make a film featuring the iconic monster. A director has been selected to helm this movie: Gareth Edwards. I don't know much about this fellow. Updates on this planned movie have been sparse thus far which I suppose is to be expected. A tentative 2013 theatrical release date has been changed to 2014 and as far as I know(from the few updates posted online) a script for the film is still being hashed out.

I sure hope Legendary Pictures and director Gareth Edwards can deliver to us Godzilla(and giant monster movie) fans a film that knocks the ball out of the proverbial park.

Finally, I watched the '98 Centropolis film Godzilla today on Blu Ray and it looks great in 1080p HD!