Godzilla is Back!
So, it may seem strange to say that I am excited that Godzilla is back when the Gareth Edwards Godzilla came out in 2014, but to me, there is no Godzilla except those that are created by Japan via Toho studios. This year, Godzilla Resurgence is set to come out (though the American release is yet unclear).
Many of you may feel like the rubber-suited Leviathan is dated and, perhaps, lame in this super CGI, Michael Bay world we’re living in, but I feel like it goes so much deeper than that. Yes, the rubber suit limits movement. Yes, the miniature sets, though impressive, do often look like tinker toys, but if you’re going to a movie to watch whiz-bang special effects, and that is the most important thing to you, then I may not be a person with which you will agree.
Godzilla Needs to be Made by Japan
I am not usually a fan of the notion of or rejection of “cultural appropriation.” I think many great works of art and design have been appropriated, and to me, it’s often an homage to the culture that created the original work (there are exceptions to this). But Godzilla, as an idea, is a particular instance for me. When Gojira (Godzilla for us English-types) came out in 1954, it was an amazing act of cultural and political commentary for a country not yet ten years removed from being the only nation that has yet to be a victim of an atomic bomb attack. That fact makes this premise still relevant.
Twice now, America and Hollywood have tried to add to the Godzilla canon, and in my opinion, though those movies were done with the best intentions and in good faith, they failed. Part of it has been weak casting (Matthew Broderick? Aaron Taylor-Johnson?). Part of it has been weak storylines. (Don’t kill off Bryan Cranston in the first act when he’s the best thing you’ve got!) But I think the biggest issue is that there is no way for Americans to really tap into the unique ongoing political discussion that Toho’s Godzilla occupies to this day.
Isn’t that a Stretch?
You may be wondering if Godzilla, as he currently exists in Japan, still occupies that political territory. I mean, hell, the last Godzilla movie made in Japan was Godzilla: Final Wars, which, admittedly, is a pretty horrible movie. Many of the movies in the Godzilla franchise are campy, hokey, badly produced, and do lose sight of the original intention of the 1954 film, yet there is still hope. I feel like only Toho and Japan (or, perhaps, if Hollywood worked more in concert with Toho studios?) can tell that story correctly.
I could be wrong, but this is how I feel about the franchise, and I must admit that I am a little geeked to see the trailer for the new Godzilla Resurgence. I hope it brings Godzilla back to the story and the themes that made it great initially. But what do you think? Am I wrong about this franchise? Is it fair game for Hollywood to poach? Let me know what you think in the comments below.