Looking back on my childhood I remember the first movies I watched. It seems some of the crispest memories I've had were the shows that were first ingrained into my mushy child mind. Right off the bat I was shown Alien, and Aliens 2 and along with a whole bunch of Godzilla flicks. At that young age I was totally in awe with the concept of Godzilla. It was in the 80's and this stuff was all pretty new to me and I was hooked. Nothing rocked my childhood boat more than watching Godzilla and his pals open a can of whoop-ass on one another, simply because. Just, because. It was Tokyo after all. It was a realization of something greater than I. The fact that something indescribably immense existed (at least on screen) and (in childhood imagination) that had the power to level an entire city.
It seemed that when you go visit Tokyo, and you're radioactive; you are just compelled to trash stuff, nibble on trains, eat power plants and smash the local military. It was like some sort of like tradition.
The "super-giant-smashing-large-cities-theme" is not a new idea, I guess it is pretty common now. A popular bastardization can be found on television in the form of the Power Rangers. (ie, Time Rangers, Dino Rangers... Ranger Goats... or what ever form they may be now.) As I recall the first season had a lot of the original footage taken from the Japanese television series. The Japanese actors were great, however the American ones should have been sacrificed to both Godzilla and Voltron for such an offence. But, I digress. There are better examples. In the music industry the Beastie Boys created an awesome music video to go along with their song "Intergalactic Planetary". Or let's not forget to mention the kick ass kitchy scene in Austin Powers 3.
To be fair, it can be said that some of the original ideas for the "Gojira" sprang from movies like RKO's original 1933 "King Kong"--not to be confused with the one Mario and Luigi fought--and "Beast from 20,000 fathoms." Yet Godzilla has a history that spans fifty years and twenty-five movies. One cancerous growth that has always affected the long winding history of Godzilla were the terrible rehashings of various Godzilla classics at the hands of Hollywood.
(If you wish, I suggest going to check out: http://web.cetlink.net/~farrier/Gbio.htm)
It's been a long time coming, but the Americanization of Godzilla has always bothered me. Now, to be specific it should be clarified that the Hollywood Godzilla, featured in the 1998 "Godzilla" movie is the anti-christ of the entire Godzilla genre. It's like putting David Caradine in a Toshiro Mifume film. I won't get into the specifics of the long and winding history of Godzilla, the gist of my rant is that Hollywood has messed with something it has never understood. Among the more glaring and obvious points is the disgusting use of product placement, and placement of music videos by Puffy Daddy and the Wallflowers.
Let us break it down shall we?
The original Godzilla is nearly invincible, at least invincible to conventional weapons. Yet, for some reason the American military-grade weapons is very good at killing Godzilla. To top it off, the super strong lizard who can easily smash buildings and do immense property damage, can't escape from the steel cables of a bridge. Uh yeah, right.
What ever happened to Godzilla's super radioactive breath blasts or the glowing dorsal spines? Those super hot dorsal spines would burn through those steel bridge cables like a flamer on Richard Simmons.
The real Godzilla certainly wouldn't put up with any crap, let alone any of the bad acting. The real bad ass Godzilla would probably commit seppuku first and ensure his 10,000-ton body fell on the actors, director and writers. Or let us not forget about Godzilla's ability to regenerate? Bad-ass Godzilla would enjoy committing seppuku knowing that in a short while he can get back up again and see all the wonderfully flattened actors, then turn and flambé? the two-dimensional beef patties of the director and writers.
My only conclusion would be that this american Godzilla must be some faux "pussy" Godzilla species, which we can safely classify as Fairyus Gojirasaurus. That would explain why it had a fascination with a yellow taxicab, much less be a big fairy and run away from a few meager submarines, tanks, and airplanes. This would also explain why at the end we find a big CG lizard trapped on a bridge, and whining like a little schoolgirl that isn't allowed to go out and do naughty things with the neighbourhood boys.
To top it all off, there isn't even an actor inside a huge monster suit!
Looking back into the history of Godzilla I realized one major caveat. Godzilla was first introduced to post war Japan. The Japanese people faced the total destruction of two of their major cities on a scale of destruction never before seen. During World War II the firestorms of Dresden and Hamburg were only miniscule in comparison. It could be said that Godzilla is perhaps a symbol of the destruction that occurred, and the impact it had on Japanese culture. It makes it seem all the more relevant that one of the origins of Godzilla was due to radioactive mutation from nuclear testing.
In hindsight I find it highly amusing that in the Americanized 1998 movie the sloughed blame on the French as being responsible for Godzilla's mutation and not on the United States who pioneered the original testing in the south pacific. Not many nations can claim to totally eradicate an entire island. Hence you won't find Bikini Atoll on any map anymore. The only positive notes I can find are that I am also glad that the movie gave a great actor like Jean Reno opportunity to put food on the table.
By killing off Godzilla, it annoys me that "American military" trashes and commercializes a true cult classic film icon then associates Godzilla with Puffy Daddy (a la P.Diddy) and the Wallflowers. To add further insult to injury, introduce god-awful toys, backpacks, t-shirts and other crap to feed consumers.
As for the music, it is true some of the music was indeed good, by why not just add Godzilla rapping along with Puffy, decked out in gold chains, and Adidas Sweat wear? It's like partially crapping on something and not finishing off your number two.
In a way, it also mocks the devastation the Japanese culture suffered. The "myth" of Godzilla is totally desecrated by giving a purpose to Godzilla's havoc. In true Japanese style, Godzilla comes, does his business and goes with little else said except a big ass roar or two. There is a certain "Godzilla Zen" that is unfathomable, at least to the common Japanese citizen that runs away in terror yelling those immortal words: "Gojira!" It is unquestionable why Godzilla comes, kicks blissfully royal ass then leaves like Ryu does (Street Fighter II), walking off into the sunset awaiting the next challenge. It is not simply because he (Godzilla is a he not a she) he's looking for some yummy Atlantic Cod, or to nest in a stadium. For that matter, the real Godzilla gets quite pissed when humans screw around with the environment, so why would he further endanger a depleted species of fish?
The most recent installation of Godzilla is Godzilla 2000, sets the record straight as a ruler as what the true Godzilla mantra is. You will most definitely not see any dubbed in american actors or terribly rewritten story lines. You will not see Matthew Brodrick or the mighty american military killing our favourite large radioactive reptile. (Our other favourite radioactive reptiles are the Ninja Turtles and their bigger cousin Gamara. They however, both would also react badly to Matthew Brodrick.) This movie is almost like a counter strike to the affrontment known as Godzilla 1998. Godzilla comes to trash Tokyo in his usual unstoppable fashion. Meanwhile the Japanese have found a huge space turd deep under water that really turns out to be a living spaceship bent on taking over Tokyo's computer systems. This is probably an attempt to download hentai p0rn, mp3s, and spread spam. Regardless, Godzilla won't stand for this and proceeds to lay the smack down on the monster.
Watching real Godzilla roar made me giddy. You can almost hear him saying "Biotch!" It could also be translated too "I'm back, and you can't mess with a good thing. Biotch."
The authentic Godzilla has thankfully survived its bastardization and this humble Gojira fan is satisfied in his rant.