So what makes Godzilla, Godzilla? Watching Gojira and the American remake gave me the impression that Godzilla was a giant unstoppable monster unaffected by modern military weapons that caused fear in the eyes of everyone. However, watching the monster from Godzilla 1998 tear up New York gave me a different impression of Godzilla, that did not feel anything like Godzilla. Here’s what worked for me about the first film and what didn’t.
For the most part, I thought the story of Gojira was pretty good, and I liked the characters. Although, this movie looks dated now it’s still impressive what Toho was able to do in a world with no computer-generated special effects. Compared to previous monster movies like King Kong and others Gojira was a huge leap forward. For me, one of the things that stood out in the film the most was the music. I thought the title theme was very catchy and found it clever that the music would build up dramatically when Godzilla appeared onscreen to build tension.
Speaking of tension, the action scenes in the film demonstrate how menacing Godzilla is even if they do look like someone is playing with model toys on a miniature set. Scenes like Godzilla tearing up the radio station, eating trains and missiles zooming right past him show just how powerless Japan is. Lastly, it makes perfect sense that Godzilla would have to be destroyed by the oxygen destroyer rather than modern military weapons.
I had no qualms with the American remake of Gojira in regards to what makes Godzilla, Godzilla. It helped that the story was practically identical, and some of the footage was the same. Unfortunately, the American remake of Gojira was quite a step down from the original and did not leave a memorable impression on me. The dubbing, dialogue, and narration for most of the film were pretty embarrassing and painful to watch. Having Steve Martin played by Raymond Burr didn’t add anything to the film and seemed unnecessary.
When it was time to watch Godzilla 1998 everything I thought I knew about Godzilla was thrown out by the wayside. There are many problems with this film. Like why is Godzilla an iguana? Why did he travel all the way to NY to build a nest when he could have just stayed in Japan or some foreign Island? How does NY stay afloat when he’s bigger than the underground tunnels he supposedly uses as his home? The movie was more about two characters trying to live up to their full potential and discover who they are instead of focusing primarily on Godzilla.
This version of Godzilla doesn’t demonstrate what makes Godzilla, Godzilla because he isn’t the main threat in the movie. The main threat is the fact that Godzilla has laid eggs in Madison Square Garden and once they all hatch the babies will reproduce just like Godzilla resulting in a new species overtaking humans. Most shameful of all is that Godzilla’s death comes from military force instead of some other means. The original Godzilla could never be destroyed by military force alone.
In conclusion, the Hollywoodization of Godzilla proves that American filmmakers are more concerned about spending money on impressive special effects that will lead to more box office revenue than staying true to the original vision and telling a compelling story.