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Monday, November 3, 2014

Happy 60th Birthday Godzilla: Gojira Review

Today is an important day for the Toku genre, the reason why this genre exists has just turned sixty years old. It's quite amazing to think that the idea of suit action and a whole genre of special effects started sixty years ago. On November 3rd the original Godzilla film premiered in Japanese theaters and it's the start for a filming icon and it's still as strong as ever thanks to the new film. Also even though I do have some personal favorites of the franchise and for just movies in general, but the original Godzilla film still stands to me as one of the most timeless films thanks to it's how the effects were used and the use of the overall dark tone to show how nuclear warfare affects the world.
I can still watch this film to this day and it was a more of a recent discovery for me. With the new film coming I wanted to marathon through many Godzilla films and I found that I had the original film and both versions as well. I know I had to start with the original even though my memories from the past were getting bored, but that was when I was like in my early teens. Going back to the film really opened my eyes and again is one of the darkest films I have ever seen, but it's not done with excessive gore like how some people see dark now these days. The idea of being a dark film needs to have a dark theme first of all, you cannot just have death with no point. This film finds a way to fit a massive amount of death and actually still give off the dark feel. I have seen what people call dark now these days and it doesn't compare to what this film delivers that is because of the themes and messages it plays with.
For those who don't know, World War II was a big deal and it caused massive catastrophe for many countries. Japan got hit with atomic bombs and the idea of Godzilla was to show the effects of nuclear warfare with a monster. This idea of having a monster symbolize a dark theme has been done before with King Kong showing slavery, but I find that Godzilla using the nuclear threat theme was just better in general. This is thanks with the use of the characters and I am including Godzilla as well. Many times the monster was just a monster and just rampaged through cities and destroyed everything in site. Godzilla follows this, but how the movie shows it is different. Godzilla is who he is because of the use of nuclear bombs and even though he is a giant monster that can destroy cities, he still suffers. Godzilla is still an animal and it cannot help itself if it's going through the city and causing destruction. Godzilla is heavily tragic and then all the destruction he causes onto the people is tragic as well. The movie easily shows the suffering that both sides will have with nuclear warfare. The people are killed and deal with losing their loved ones and even the one who attacks has to suffer as well. What's even more sad is that the humans have to fight back so it's just violence on top of violence and even in victory the humans still lose in a way.
For the human side of things there was the character known as Dr. Yamane and Dr. Serizawa as these are the two most iconic characters from the movie. Yamane was a man who simply studied Godzilla and he is the one who gives us the most information about the monster. He knows that Godzilla is a creature that suffers and he sees the people struggling to survive. Then there is Dr. Serizawa one of my favorite characters in any movie, he is a simple character and yet he is one of the first iconic tragic heroes I can think of. This doctor kept himself in hiding as he found something interesting after his time in the war. It's called micro oxygen and he soon finds a way to create a weapon with the new element. It's far too destructive though and he knows the world isn't ready for it so he keeps it in secret. In the end he knows the weapon will kill Godzilla and he decides to use it, but he offers his own life to make sure no one will ever re-create the Oxygen Destroyer. So the people lose a great scientist, a man who could have benefited society and he had many people who cared for him even though he stayed secretive. Also the film ends at a great point with Yamane saying if nuclear testing continues as so, there could be another monster like this which just puts a final slam on the overall message of nuclear warfare and testing.
The film also has a great way of it's special effects and yes this movie is sixty years old and I will still say it holds up. This is because of how the suit moved along with the black and white cinematography. Godzilla to me looked like a monster the whole time he was on screen while the other films shown him in a much different view. The original Godzilla though was an image of horror and remember he symbolizes the atomic bomb, imagine how scary that must have been for Japan during the time and I bet that horror can still hold up. The whole dark imagery just works greatly with that idea as the scenery even works well with that idea. Flames are covering everything as things start to crumble, this is a real way of having things to be dark. It's not edgy, this is actual darkness and a real way of showing a different form of horror. The film makers had to do things differently with how they presented the monster as they wanted to do what King Kong or The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. They had to go with a suit and I find the movement being slow fits the idea of a monster actually going through a city since it's not the usual environment the beast would be used to, also the whole being gigantic thing doesn't help either. Overall the effects were just the beginning of Toku and it's also one of the most groundbreaking moments for special effects and that cannot be ignored.
The original Gojira film is a masterpiece and I don't know how much I will say that in my life. This is a film that started a franchise that I see really evolved with the times. Godzilla then continues to be amazement to movie goers everywhere even if every film wasn't as great... (I'm looking at you Godzilla's Revenge!) The franchise did continue to have great moments of films as it did continue with some other masterful films like my all time personal favorite, Godzilla VS Destroyah. I don't even need to give a rating to this film there is no grade that can show how much this film done right and how much it means to the whole film industry, the fans, and myself. If you haven't watched this film I highly recommend that you do and with Godzilla coming back to the theaters with two sequels to theaters in the future. This is the film that started everything that I mostly love in entertainment as I hope it can continue to be a legendary film even after forty more years.

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