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Godzilla, Seriously..

As with everyone else this week, my anticipation to see the Legendary Pictures reboot of Godzilla couldn’t be any bigger than the beast himself (or herself, I’m confused where we are with that).

I have a lot of confidence the film will be a throwback to the original, as evidenced by Warner Bros’ increasingly revealing marketing and publicity campaign.  But part of its more-serious tone has me worried.

For 60 fire-breathing years, ゴジラ has mutated and evolved through over 25 feature films, not to mention comics, animated series, toy-lines, and video games.  Yet, America has always been accustomed to the softer, campier side of the creature from the get-go, with the 1956 Godzilla, King of the Monsters! 

There exists a big difference between the Raymond Burr-enhanced version and the Japanese original, most noticeably in the film’s context (released a mere 9 years after the bombing of Hiroshima).

Even the “G Fan” in me, though, must put it out there.  The films got dumb and dumber with the years.  They became more sophomoric, aimed at the matinee crowd in both native Japanese and [poorly] dubbed American editions.

Sure, there were attempts to inflict a little more serious terror and social commentary into “reboots” through the years, but ultimately they follow the all-monsters-attack formula.

I’ve defended it before on this very website, but 1998’s American Godzilla can hardly be blamed for being less-like the 1954 original.  It followed years of various dilutions of the franchise, not to mention the films it birthed (Jurassic Park most egregiously).

So here we are in 2014, and destroying major cities and landmarks isn’t something you can easily joke about  anymore on-screen.  Director of this week’s release Gareth Edwards knows this all too well.  His brilliantly creepy 2010 film Monsters got Edwards the rebooted Godzilla gig probably because it’s as far as you can get from getting the director of Independence Day and repeating the past.

Seriousness is what has me worried about the new Godzilla film.  It has it in spades in the trailer, poster, advance clips and early buzz.  While I don’t necessarily need Jet Jaguar to fly across screen to the rescue or, god help us, those tiny Mothra twins singing their little four-note earworm, it would be great to see a little bad-ass fun.

Was the 1998 film was all-joke, all-camp?  Sure.  Too much so.  But, admit it, there were some fun moments.  Helicopters being eaten in one gulp, a surprisingly different take on the creature itself, and best of all,  the badly-in-need-of-a-renovation Madison Square Garden blown to smithereens to save the city.

Ultimately this week though, I’m expecting to be scared again by the monster.  The original Japanese film still has its moments of freakiness.  I want to believe this new Godzilla will restore the monster’s relevance and terror.

I just don’t want to be completely bummed out emotionally by an overly heavy-handed approach.


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