Gareth Edwards, Director of the latest version of Godzilla – the monster whom we have grown to love, assured us that this film would be true to the original film and what it symbolized. He partially succeeded.
As a child, I remember when the promotion for the 1956 original American version of Godzilla, King of the Monsters created huge anticipation among youth in America. Would this be bigger than King Kong? Mighty Joe Young? The Thing? War of the Worlds?
The truth was it exceeded the commercial success of most other horror films in that era. What we did not know at the time was that Godzilla represented the horror of nuclear war and the attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki with atomic weapons.
The new film was highly anticipated because it was to take these factors into account. Toho Productions, creator and owner of Godzilla, became frustrated when they licensed the 1998 version of Godzilla for American production. That depiction of Godzilla was a lizard who walked vertically through New York, while Toho envisioned Godzilla to be ultimate power as a 400 foot entity.
Toho was so disturbed about the Godzilla lizard that two years later they released Godzilla 2000 in the United States. They intended to bring Godzilla back to the stature and dignity of his original incarnation.
The Warner Brothers release does depict Godzilla with the respect for the monster that Toho expected. It was, however, sidetracked by two other radiation-created monsters that take much of the film away from the focus on Godzilla vs. humanity.
There is one brief mention of his name in an obscure moment in the film, and Dr. Serizawa, a major figure in the original film, is portrayed in the new Godzilla without the presence or impact anticipated by those who knew the character from the 1956 film.
There were several fine actors in the film, but it simply was not built to focus on great acting performances. It was an action film with a gray look to it that simply did not have the impact this viewer thought would be developed by the Director.
There were too many clichés and not enough for the audience to become captured by the film. It was not captivating as the original was, even though the production values of the original were elementary compared to the Gareth Edwards version.
The group I was with viewing the film in the theatre stood up and looked at each other, wondering what the take away was from this film. We are still wondering.