Anger. Disgust. Hatred. Rage. Denial. These are just a few of the words that come to mind whenever somebody mentions the abomination that was Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin’s remake of “Godzilla” to me. Just the mere thought of that ugly iguana makes me want to punch something very, very hard. I bring up this bad, bad memory for one reason. Hollywood is taking another stab at the King of the Monsters.
Near the end of March, it was announced that Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, having already achieved cinematic gold with “The Dark Knight” and “Watchmen,” have secured the rights to Godzilla from Toho, the studio responsible for 28 G-flicks from 1954 to 2004. Suffice to say, a flood of fan fury has swept the internet.
In preparation for this article, I intended to jump into said flood but, realizing that millions of others would have already polluted it, decided to be a bit more rational. Instead of a profanity-laced rant, this lifelong fan of the Big G will develop a five-point wish list for the new film, in the hopes that the Hollywood execs in charge might actually care what the fans want and will try to satisfy them.
The first point to be made just happens to be the most important one; don’t mess up Godzilla. Anyone who remembers the fallout from the 1998 remake knows that the one thing that bothered people more than anything was that Godzilla was a powerless CGI iguana easily killed by the military. If Warner Bros. wants to avoid a repeat of the past, they’d be wise to keep Godzilla as a radioactive, fire-breathing dinosaur portrayed by a stuntman in a rubber suit stomping around miniature sets.
Point number two is that the film must stay true to the spirit of the original series. As created by Tomoyuki Tanaka in 1954, Godzilla was a physical representation of the horrors of nuclear power and mankind’s obsession with power. While the sequels kept that metaphor going to varying degrees, Emmerich and Devlin tossed it out the window completely, along with Godzilla’s heat ray and invincibility. Let’s not let that happen again.
My third point is as follows: People love seeing Godzilla kick the unholy crap out of other monsters. The new film would most certainly earn some goodwill with the fan base by bringing other monsters into the equation. If the filmmakers were really smart, they would avoid making new monsters and just stick with the classics: the three-headed death dragon King Ghidorah, the cyborg Gigan, MechaGodzilla, the alien-Godzilla hybrid SpaceGodzilla, and the mutated pre-cambrian monster known as Destroyer.
For point number four, I implore Hollywood to not Americanize the film. Godzilla is to Japan what Apple Pie is to America; the two are inseparable and to try and change that defeats the whole purpose. Emmerich’s remake replaced the likes of Akihiko Hirata’s Dr. Serizawa and Megumi Odaka’s Miki Saguesa with Matthew Broderick’s worm guy and Hank Azaria’s goofball cameraman. Nothing against Broderick and Azaria, but American actors don’t belong in a Godzilla film.
Finally, I will make my fifth point, which is that this movie must be made by real filmmakers. Now, I’m not saying that Warner Bros. must hire someone on the level of Martin Scorcese, but whoever is hired to make the new Godzilla has to be able to make a good movie with three-dimensional characters and strong storytelling, a fun movie with plenty of monster face time and destruction and, above all else, respect the series and its millions of fans. By that logic, Michael Bay, Stephen Sommers and Paul W.S. Anderson must be kept as far away from this movie as possible.
Now that I have made my points, the question still lingers; does this movie have the potential to be good? Personally, I am not particularly optimistic about it and with good reason. Even 12 years later, the 1998 remake still fills me with rage. I can’t help but be cynical. However, with “The Dark Knight” and “Watchmen” under their utility belt, not to mention “Clash of The Titans,” the tag team of Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures has a solid track record of making great films and satisfying the fan base. If anyone can pull it off, it’s these guys.
In closing, I hope that what I have shared with you faithful readers will shed some light on why this franchise has been going strong for 50 plus years and give you the right criteria by which to judge this new film. At the very least, there’s one thing I know certain. Even if the new Godzilla films turns out to be unfathomably bad, it’ll still be better than that 1998 clusterfuck.