I am writing to inform you that your services are no longer required for the Godzilla franchise.
You tried to bring Godzilla to New York in 1998 with updated special effects, but failed to develop a plot that explains the curious route Godzilla takes from the Pacific Ocean to Manhattan without attacking any other city in a trip that took Godzilla around the southwest coast, through the Panama Canal, through the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean and up through the southeast coast, all known for natural disasters.
You gave Godzilla another shot in 2014 by jumping on the Bryan Cranston bandwagon and developing a cross-Pacific storyline. Unfortunately, the namesake of the film wasn’t part of that trip until halfway through.
So Japan is taking Godzilla back, at least for now, starting with Shin Godzilla, aka Godzilla: Resurgence.
Shin Godzilla is a genuine reboot, not just a nod at the history of Godzilla while going off in another direction. The plot is old school Gojira, as shown by the film’s press release:
It’s a peaceful day in Japan when a strange fountain of water erupts in the bay, causing panic to spread among government officials. At first, they suspect only volcanic activity, but one young executive dares to wonder if it may be something different… something alive. His worst nightmare comes to life when a massive, gilled monster emerges from the deep and begins tearing through the city, leaving nothing but destruction in its wake. As the government scrambles to save the citizens, a rag-tag team of volunteers cuts through a web of red tape to uncover the monster’s weakness and its mysterious ties to a foreign superpower. But time is not on their side—the greatest catastrophe to ever befall the world is about to evolve right before their very eyes.
That’s it. No baby Godzillas hatching in Madison Square Garden. No giant grasshoppers siphoning off of nuclear power plants. No Matthew Broderick. No Bryan Cranston flirtation until the film’s budget kills him off early on in the film. Shin Godzilla is a giant monster destroying Tokyo, just as nature intended. Maybe its not a film about a man in a reptile suit stomping on a city model, but sometimes you just have to upgrade your vision.
As if that wasn’t enough, Shin Godzilla incorporates the underlying theme of the original Godzilla film: global politics. Shin Godzilla touches upon cross-national feelings about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in today’s world in a way that is relevant to the film, not just as a political gimmick. The film also delves into the pride of a nation in the face of disaster, and the choice between complete obliteration and international relief.
Then there’s the king of carnage himself: Godzilla. Yes, Godzilla does look a bit ridiculous in his first form with characteristics more like a giant fish than a giant man-lizard, but the creature evolves over and over again, looking more sinister and destructive as he goes. Godzilla is definitely CGI based like the last few versions, but the effects are much more deserving of the Godzilla name. It’s Godzilla, not a bone-spurred Tyrannosaurus Rex or a giant Killer Croc from the Batman franchise. Godzilla. King Kong wasn’t turned into an orangutan in his reboot, so Godzilla’s ultimate species shouldn’t be changed, either.
So please, America. Stay away. I know that a sequel and a “Vs. King Kong” film is in the works but, for your sake as well as Godzilla’s, stay away. You’ve had your shot. Let Japan take it back for good.
A Godzilla-Loving Film Critic