the return of godzilla is a great way to restart a franchise

“godzilla is the son of the atomic bomb. he is a nightmare created out of the darkness of the human soul. he is the sacred beast of the apocalypse.”

tomoyuki tanaka

so, the first thing i wanna talk about is the tendency to equate passion and enjoyment with exhaustive knowledge and how i both consciously and unconsciously have played into that in the past and am trying to consciously break away from it. i freaking love kaiju movies (and the Godzilla movies in particular) but i am not an expert or an authority. i almost certainly know more than the average bear just by virtue of seeing every godzilla movie and quite a few non-godzilla kaiju movies, but i’ve only seen most of them once. and most damningly of all, i’ve seen quite a few of them only in english!!! (i’m fixing it, i promise!!!) i’ve had people come to me with questions about the series that i’ve been able to answer and that’s very happy for me because i like knowing things and being helpful, but i’m not any sort of authority and i just want to make that super, super clear because idk. i don’t want anyone thinking “oh, [miles] knows everything about this!” just because i’m passionate about it? i’m engaging in the project of rewatching every single kaiju movie i’ve seen and watching all of the ones i haven’t seen yet precisely because i really, really don’t. cool? cool.

(all of that being said, please still feel free to come to me with questions about kaiju movies if you want! like, if you’re curious about them but find them impenetrable and impossible to get into. they’re sorta like comic books that way? where you almost feel like you have to research them and contextualize them before you can even read the damn things? because of my more than passing knowledge which i’ll happily confess to, it’s still very possible that coming to me with questions will be better than just googling them even if i have to reference google/wikis/etc in order to fully answer your question, because i’ll have a lotta contextual knowledge to navigate the answers. and although i do not want to portray myself as any kind of expert or authority, i really like being helpful and usefu.) (♪ i’ll be true, i’ll be useful, i’ll be cavalier… i’ll be yours my dear… ♪)

i’m realizing as i watch this much more adjacent to some of the earliest, best “godzilla vs.” movies that while it was pretty refreshing after the likes of son of godzilla or all monsters attack, it pales in comparison to the likes of mothra vs. godzilla or invasion of astro-monster (which i haven’t even rewatched yet but i’m supremely confident my opinion of it will not change this time around). for one thing, my original reaction to the film was very, very tied in to how it handled the political subtext (… it’s really just text) and just the enormous gravitas and presence godzilla had while he was stomping through tokyo… both of which really happen in the second half of the movie. the earlier parts of the movie are honestly kinda way slower than they need to be. it would be fine if the human characters introduced here were like… super interesting or compelling in some way, or like it was super essential to identify with them to get much out of the latter parts of the movie… but that just isn’t the case? at all? the best parts of this movie are just a) the japanese prime minister, who isn’t featured in the earlier parts of the movie at all, standing up to the nuclear superpowers & b) godzilla himself just being big and awesome and sexy as hell (sorry). and while that last part does heavily rely on the human characters’ reactions reading well to sell it to the audience, all that’s required there is for them to feel puny and helpless and relatable. it doesn’t rely at all on the work done earlier in the movie. the human characters spend the entirety of that early part of the movie being kinda bland and not interesting.

in terms of production values, yeah, there is a pretty big jump from where we last saw the series in terror of mechagodzilla and where we were here, but i’ll be damned if the best entries in the earlier run like (i know i keep mentioning it but…) mothra vs. godzilla can’t comfortably stand toe-to-toe with any of the best of the later films even in visual categories? don’t get me wrong, though: omfgosh i love so so many of the shots in this movie. most of them are just like… godzilla towering over the camera, or godzilla stomping around a bunch of buildings, but y’know. i’m so weak for this shit.

regarding the political stuff… yeah, it’s all very surface-level. but like. instead of just very surface-level, earnest reinforcements of imperialist ideology, you get very surface-level, earnest resistance to same? there’s an extent to which the soviet union & united states are equated that i’m not super wild about but it’s still just… super interesting to see an outside perspective. and like… japan was and continues to be very under the usa’s thumb in a lot of ways, so even this feels a little like an act of resistance? idk. i may be being super naive here, but i liked it.

anyway, even if you think i’m being super naive or wrong or whatever on that front, as already mentioned there’s some quality godzilla stomping to be had here. and i feel like we can all at least agree on that. again, as i think i mentioned in one of my reviews of the earlier godzilla movies, there’s a limited amount of stuff you can do with “humans try to deal with godzilla” as your plot and in broad strokes i honestly like it a lot less than godzilla as a good (or at least ambiguous) guy, but it’s used comparatively sparingly and it’s honestly usually done pretty well when it is done?

anyway, yeah. i don’t quite see this as on the upper tier of godzilla movies like i did during my first time watching my way through the series, but it’s still clearly knocking on the door of that tier. these are just my personal/very strong opinions btw. like i said, i’m not an expert. i freaking love these movies, though ❤

(a-rank)

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