Midday Movies: A Geek Roundtable Talks About New And Classic Godzilla Films
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Aired 5/20/14 on KPBS Midday Edition.
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
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.
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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.
Rodriguez recommends watching the original 1954 "Gojira." Here is the Japanese 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.
Tateishi recommends anything from 1964, like "Mothra Vs. Godzilla." Here is the Japanese 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.
Mowry goes with the 1984 "Return of Godzilla."
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.
Beth Accomando suggests "Destroy All Monsters," where you get the most monsters for your money — a battle royale of kaiju!
And here is the slightly different American trailer.