Godzilla has always been a favorite character of mine, and ahead, as my first reviews for the site, are quick little capsule reviews covering every Godzilla movie ever made, with the exception of the most recent, Gojira: Fainaru uôzu (one will be added whenever I finally get a chance to see it.) I plan to do fuller reviews for the films, but as I don’t own the entire series, it’ll have to wait until another day.
Before all of that, I thought I’d share a few brief thoughts on the monster, to give a tiny bit of context to what follows.
My preferred Godzilla is that of the Showa era (the Godzilla films made between 1954 and 1974). I especially like the later ones where Godzilla is more of a hero, but I think the good stories back then were better. Perhaps not in craft, but in heart. There was less concern about delivering morals (though there were morals) and more effort to make an engaging, if in some cases silly, tale.
The Showa Godzilla also always strikes me as having more soul. The fights seem more personal to me, and less about the colored beams being spouted hither and yond. The Heisei Godzilla (the Godzilla featured in the films made between 1984 and 1995) was, to me, too stiff, as if the special effects department was afraid he’d break.
I don’t want to give the impression I don’t like the Heisei Godzilla movies, or the Millennium movies that followed, for that matter. It’s just that I grew up with the Showa Godzilla. When I think of towering dinosaurs crushing landscapes, it’s of a rubbery suit with eyes, more often than not, pointed in a direction other than where he’s supposed to be looking. The love I have for him and his movies is hard to beat, even with the most advance special effects, even with the heights of animatronics.
The Godzilla Plot
While I do love Godzilla movies, and Kaijû (Japanese Giant Monster) movies in general, it’s hard to ignore the fact that many of them are built on the same basic plot, with the occasional variations. They tend to go something like this:
Invader Kaijû attacks the given Locality – Usually, but not always, that Locality is Japan.
Guardian Kaijû fights Invader and loses – On rare occasions this means the death of Guardian. When that happens, kin of the Guardian comes to finish the score
Guardian fights Invader again and defeats Invader – Again, in rare cases this means the death of the Invader.
Guardian leaves Locality in peace – Or, more often than not, pieces. Kaijû are not the most careful of beasts
Invader is any Kaijû that is more interested in destruction than anything else. Guardian is any Kaijû that is specifically guarding a place, or shows an interest in something other than rearranging landscape.
One further thing before I wrap this essay up. I like the 1998 Godzilla. It’s a terrible movie, and it’s probably more than a little bit disrespectful of it’s source, but I can’t help it. I find the monster parts vastly entertaining.
To differentiate between mammoth lizards, I’m going to follow the lead of Gojira Fainaru uôzu and refer to the American Godzilla as Jira, which, for whatever reasons, strikes me as a far classier and clever name than “GINO” or “Deanzilla”