Since the 1950’s Godzilla has been perhaps the world’s most famous movie monster. Movies featuring the giant, mutated dinosaur have garnered praise, and sometimes ridicule. However, the fearsome monster has changed quite a bit over the years. With a new and highly anticipated installment of the Godzilla franchise coming out later this month, now would be a good time to look back on the evolution of the creature and the franchise as a whole.
The first film in the Godzilla franchise was a rather serious affair. This movie, directed by Ishiro Honda, was produced in the decade after World War Two. The horrors of the war were surely rather fresh in the minds of the Japanese people at this time. The shadow of the atomic bomb and nuclear testing looms large in both the 1954 Godzilla and the American version, Godzilla: King of the Monsters. While the visual effects might strike people today as a little silly, these were rather somber movies. Looking back on the original movies, it is hard not to see more meaning other than the what was on the surface.
Since his first appearance in 1954, Godzilla has gone through an evolution. The beast was not always seen as a villain and indeed became something of a defender for the planet. He also fought a number of other giant monsters, including Mothra, MechaGodzilla, and others. Some of the films became rather light-hearted. Godzilla was now a hero for the most part, though he would again assume the role of villain in some movies.
Of course, there was also the infamous 1998 Godzilla. This movie created a stir with a lot of Godzilla fans, and not necessarily in a good way. For what it is worth, the popular movie rating website Rotten Tomatoes gives this movie a rating of 25 percent. The fan vote was not much better at 29 percent. Perhaps even worse, Toho, the Japanese company that owns the Godzilla franchise distanced themselves from the movie. Indeed, the company renamed the monster as simply “Zilla.”
To be fair, the 1998 version of Godzilla did some things right. For one thing, the creature obviously did not look like a person in a suit. The problem was that the movie strayed so far from the original design and concept. The monster looked much more animal like, did not have atomic breath, and was comparatively easy to kill.
The upcoming Godzilla looks like it will be more in the spirit of the original, but with updated special effects. From what can be seen in the trailers, this Godzilla looks enormous and it is hinted that nuclear bombs were used (unsuccessfully) in the past in an attempt to kill the creature.
This latest movie shows quite a lot of promise. There is definitely a lot of excitement for what is on the horizon. However, great expectations can be a curse if the movie fails to live up to them. If the movie does not deliver, the outstanding previews will make it look that much worse.
Godzilla has gone through a long evolution over the years. Hopefully, the new movie will live up to expectations and the franchise will gain momentum. In that way, Godzilla will have much more to add to his storied legend.
Opinion By Zach Kirkman
Godzilla: King of the Monsters (movie)