Fade in on a peaceful scene near the ocean...boom...a far-off yet enormous noise gathers the attention of small children at play, fishermen on a boat, old people playing checkers at a family restaurant...one by one, they decide to ignore the noise going back to whatever they were doing; all except for one grizzled old man with a bleach-white blind eye, sitting in the corner by himself. He looks up for the first time in years, garnering the attention of the matronly chef in the back of the family restaurant.
From deep in the dark ocean it comes again...Boom...a little louder, everyone's head snaps up, quickly; a crease of worry crossing the faces of the fishermen, the checkers game hovers, a red-piece floating in limbo as the players gaze into the darkness. BOom...it comes quicker now...BOOm...the children on the beach start to cry...BOOM...an impossibly loud thunder cracks the sky as a crest of water begins to explode out of the ocean, as if pushed from beneath. The old man gasps a quick, raspy breath and whispers his last word "Gojira..." cue: "SKREEEOOONK!!!" and explosion of water as the biggest, baddest, most notorious beast our planet has known explodes out of the Ocean and the audience gets its very first glimpse of Godzilla, the King of the Monsters.
For those who do not know, I love Godzilla. Kind of a lot. Like I kind of have a small shrine to him and have seen, own, and repeatedly watch all 29 of his films (even "the American one"). I started by getting King of the Monsters (the American translation of the original Gojira film) from the library. Then I rented every Godzilla film I could get my hands on, and began scouring the previously viewed bins in movie stores searching for any hastily discarded Godzilla gem to add to my growing collection. I even used to order VHS dubs of his films from Japan back in the 90's just so I could see them all; I remember how proud I felt when I realised that my Godzilla collection was far superior to any typical rental store.
For me, the fascination is not hard to trace. There's just something about the mind of a little boy that is instantly destroyed by Dinosaurs, there was nothing we could do to resist them. Dinosaurs managed to hit every single one of our AWESOME buttons at the same time (something we won't experience again until our teens when we suddenly notice girls). They're these huge, enormous, gigantic, monsters (I'm talking about the Dinosaurs here), pulled straight from our imaginations; and yet, they're real. A whole world, our world, used to be filled with the most unimaginably diverse array of gigantic monster lizards!!!
Then you take the unmatched awesomeness of Dinosaurs and add in atomic-fire breath and regular throw-downs with the most ass-kicking, mind-bending, mutant/cyborg monsters from outer space to ever hit the cinematic screen; and yeah, you can't go wrong. You just can't. I have yet to meet the six year old boy who does not completely lose their mind when they first find Godzilla.
Now lets get this out of the way...Godzilla movies are bad. Really, bad. Like, wicked terrible bad sometimes; but in the end, it somehow just makes them stronger. When we're young, we can't tell the difference between a good movie and a bad movie; and when we're old enough to tell the difference, we see that these movies are so amazingly bad that they've transcended their stinkyness through some combination of stupidity, ignorance, innocence, and pure unmitigated joy.
Godzilla films are these raucous, loosely sewn together excuses to stage a monster fight. Pure and simple. Often, the only “plot” in a Godzilla film is that SCIENCE or NATURE has created a monster; said monster wonders into Godzilla's turf and gets all up in Big-G's face so Godzilla has to show the upstart why he's called the King of the Monsters. AAAnd MOVIE!
But really, what more do we need? I mean, any human will come running to ogle wide eyed and slack jawed the second someone yells “Fight!!!” ; and that's just to see two 8th graders that can't decide who's dad is tougher. When someone tells me that two giant monsters with laser eyes and atomic fire breath wanna throw-down in down town Tokyo to find out who's the meanest planet-wrecking bad ass; Hell's yeah I'm in!
Despite the fact that the entire plot of most Godzilla movies are explained in the credits: “Godzilla Vs...”, they still manage to throw in some deeper underlying story elements that help make these films a little less than paper thin. Themes like Science and human progress and how we tend to run before we can walk are present in most of the Godzilla films.
In fact, the first Godzilla film, Gojira, released in Japan in 1954, was created and received as a very serious film about the hazards of Nuclear Science and it's impact on all of humanity. The film also spent a great deal of time expressing the feeling of National grief for the hardships, both physical and emotional, that befell the Japanese after the bombing, particularly in rural Japan. Gojira was recently restored, translated, and released on DVD in North America for the first time in 50 years and I must say it is a seriously good film (but more on that later).
So in tribute to the Cinematic love of my life, the upcoming release of his latest movie (number 29 [or 30 if you count the 1998 Sony American-Godzilla movie, which many G-Fans do not...]), and the release of a brand-new comic series from I.D.W.; I hereby pledge to re-watch every Godzilla film, in order, and blog my reviews; to show my love and share it with youse! Here we go a-loop-de-loo...