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Midday Movies: A Geek Roundtable Talks About New And Classic Godzilla Films

Above: The 2014 "Godzilla" roared into theaters over the weekend to the second largest weekend draw since "Captain America: Winter Soldier."

Aired 5/20/14 on KPBS Midday Edition.

GUESTS:
Beth Accomando, KPBS Arts Reporter
Chris Mowry, Writer of IDW's "Godzilla: Rulers of Earth"
Miguel Rodriguez, Host of Monster Island Resort Podcast
Dr. Ramie Tateishi, Assistant Professor of English Literature and Film Studies at National University

Transcript

Gareth Edwards' new "Godzilla" movie opened over the weekend and stomped the competition at the box office. The film roared past the estimated $70 million for its opening weekend with a domestic gross of $93 million and a worldwide haul of $196 million.

But the new Godzilla has fans divided.

Godzilla turns 60 this year (technically not till November), and in his honor Rialto Pictures created a newly restored and subtitled print for theatrical release only and Gareth Edwards created a new American-made "Godzilla" (to wipe away the memory of the 1998 film that shall not be named).

Godzilla is an international star famous for stomping Tokyo as often as he saved it. The first film in the franchise, the 1954 "Gojira," was made in reaction to Japanese fears regarding the A-bomb and atomic testing. Godzilla is one of the longest-running and most successful film franchises of all time spanning six decades and nearly 30 films. It represents the uniquely Japanese genre of kaiju or giant monsters.

Last Tuesday, a line of people began forming hours before the sneak preview of "Godzilla" at Edwards Mira Mesa Cinemas. Fans were excited by the flood of trailers and teasers highlighting footage of the new Godzilla. After the film had screened, fans were divided. Many were impressed by the scale of the new "Godzilla," but others complained that the King of the Monsters was made a supporting player in his own film.

Japanese Godzilla Film Recommendations

Audio

Aired 5/20/14

The Godzilla Geek Roundtable suggests what Japanese Godzilla films to check out.

But since this is the first "Godzilla" film opening in 10 years, it definitely merits attention. Miguel Rodriguez, host of Monster Island Resort Podcast, and director of Horrible Imaginings Film Festival, is concerned that the demand for state of the art computer-generated imagery technology may kill the Japanese tradition of suit acting in which an actor in a suit or costume performs Godzilla without the benefit of CGI. It is a tradition that has contributed greatly to the development of Godzilla's personality and longevity.

Ramie Tateishi, an assistant professor of English literature and film studies at National University, has taught Godzilla in his classes. He favors the original Japanese films but felt new one did capture a nice sense of scale for Godzilla.

Chris Mowry is the writer of the IDW Publishing's comic, "Godzilla: Rulers of Earth." Mowry thought the film was a perfect Hollywood take on Godzilla and liked how "irate" Godzilla looked.

Credit: Toho

The cavalcade of monsters in "Destroy All Monsters" that reminds Beth Accomando of "The Teddy Bears Picnic."

Rodriguez recommends watching the original 1954 "Gojira." Here is the Japanese trailer.

Video

Gojira Trailer

Here is the trailer for the Americanized version — retitled "Godzilla: King of the Monsters" — released in 1956. If you have seen this one, you have not seen the real "Gojira." It had added scenes with Raymond Burr and some 40 minutes cut from the Japanese print.

Video

Godzilla, King of the Monsters Trailer

Tateishi recommends anything from 1964, like "Mothra Vs. Godzilla." Here is the Japanese trailer.

Video

Mothra Vs. Godzilla Trailer

The American version keeps Mothra a secret (perhaps fearing a giant moth wasn't scary) and redubbed the film, "Godzilla Vs. The Thing." Here is the American trailer.

Video

Godzilla Vs. The Thing

Mowry goes with the 1984 "Return of Godzilla."

Video

Return of Godzilla Trailer

Mowry points out the film was also drastically changed for U.S. release, including inserting Raymond Burr yet again. Here's a montage of the American trailers.

Video

Godzilla 1985 Montage of American Trailers

Beth Accomando suggests "Destroy All Monsters," where you get the most monsters for your money — a battle royale of kaiju!

Video

Destroy All Monsters Japanese Trailer

And here is the slightly different American trailer.

Video

Destroy All Monsters American Trailer

Comments

Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | May 20, 2014 at 11:57 a.m. ― 5 months, 1 week ago

"Godzilla turns 60 this year (technically not till November), and in his honor Rialto Pictures created a newly restored and subtitled print for theatrical release only "

If you go back in your mind, you will recall Railto rereleased the restored subtitled GOJIRA around this time in 2004. (i went to see it at the Ken and not much of crowd, as I remember.) So is 60the anniversary a SECOND restoration or merely a re-release??? Your sentence implies the former

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