Godzilla – Still King of the Monsters

Why has Godzilla endured for so long? Why is there a new Godzilla movie coming out this month on May 16th 60 years after the first Godzilla movie was released in 1954?

I’ll be honest. I was never a big Godzilla fan. I’d seen some of the movies, of course, and I even went to the theater to see the 1998 remake starring Mathew Broderick, but I can’t say I’m a fan.

As a matter of fact, yesterday was the first time I’d seen the 1954 movie, which featured Raymond Burr who, interestingly enough, appeared in scenes that had obviously been spliced onto the original Japanese version.,The film does show its age but, for all that, it was still quite compelling. While watching the scenes of Godzilla lumbering through Tokyo leaving mass destruction in its wake, I couldn’t help but think that, instead of being focused on “wiping out the vermin, us”, to borrow a quote from Pacific Rim, Godzilla seemed kind of lost and confused. I know, weird, but that’s what I felt.

There were scenes that I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Gulliermo del Toro borrowed for Pacific Rim. For example, Godzilla rampages through a train yard and there’s a similar scene in Pacific Rim when the mecha Gypsy Danger is battling a kaiju that’s come ashore.  And, while watching the 1954 Godzilla, I couldn’t help but think of the horrific devastation that occurred only nine years prior in 1945 when atomic bombs were dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which is I’m sure what motivated the filmmakers.

As has been noted in a recent NPR article about Godzilla, when the monster is finally defeated, there is a certain pathos to its destruction. Of course, as we all know, Godzilla rises again and again and again and subsequently goes on to appear in over two dozen films, with the newest version debuting this month.

Plus, there was this rather odd animated version  which came out in 1978.

I still haven’t yet decided if I’m going to go see the new Godzilla movie. I was totally underwhelmed by the 1998 version. Maybe I will. But, if I don’t, I’m sure I’ll catch it on Blu-Ray. Netflix is currently showing a slew of Godzilla movies, so if you’re jonesing for some Godzilla flicks, you can check them out there.