The previous week gave us trailers for two upcoming Godzilla projects: Monarch: Legacy of Monsters and Godzilla Minus One. The stark difference between the two fascinates me.
The Guinness World Records have recognized Godzilla as the longest continually running film franchise in entertainment history. Since its inception in 1954, the franchise has given the world 38 films. Of those, 33 came from Japan, but the five most famous ones are American.
The enduring popularity of this franchise makes no sense to me. These long-running franchises have the same weakness. After a few years, they can’t help but repeat themselves.
This is why I am unlikely to watch another Aliens film. We already know what to expect. A team of explorers will touch down on a new ship or planet. They will come across a nest of alien creatures before dying horrific deaths one after another. I just described every Alien film, except maybe the third one.
Godzilla is somewhat unique because the franchise has undergone numerous transformations, particularly in Japanese cinema. Yes, you have those titles from previous decades where Godzilla emerges from the sea and stomps all over Japan. However, filmmakers eventually branched away from that concept.
They took the character in wildly unique directions, which explains all the stories you have heard about planet-sized Godzillas, mechanized clones, and the like. Some hardcore fans hate Hollywood and even Japan’s determination to portray the giant lizard as a hero to humanity.
After all, the character was initially conceived as an allegory of the ills of the hydrogen bomb. They want him to maintain his original facade as a walking natural disaster that wakes every so often to flatten Japan’s cities. But that is where this franchise loses me. If you have seen one film where Godzilla destroys Japan, you have seen them all.
This is why the Godzilla: Minus One trailer lost me. I saw that shot of Godzilla’s massive foot slapping down on a street of fleeing humans and thought, “I’ve seen this a thousand times.”
Don’t get me wrong; the trailer won me over at the end, particularly when that one fellow said that Godzilla would never forgive them for what they did to him. And then you see that awesome shot of the lizard bursting from the water, skin charred. I assume the Japanese government dropped a nuke on him during a test, and now he is pissed.
In other words, Godzilla is not the villain. They have given the radioactive entity a justifiable reason to murder us all, which I appreciate.
And then I immediately switched over to the trailer for Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, an Apple TV show that follows a pair of siblings as they attempt to uncover their family’s connections to a secretive organization called Monarch.
I could not stop rolling my eyes. What happens every time Hollywood debuts a new Godzilla film? Audiences complain about the endless human drama that pushes the Kaiju action to the sidelines. What does Hollywood do every year? They continue to release Kaiju projects, be they Godzilla or King Kong movies, with an ever-expanding cast of human characters.
I don’t get it. Godzilla vs. Kong was probably the only exception. And even then, they could have cut that cast in half. I’ll hold my judgment until I watch the show. After all, Apple makes some of the best shows you will ever see. They have earned my trust. That said, I don’t understand why they can’t make the Kaiju the central focus of these projects.
You don’t need human characters to tell a Godzilla story. Just treat Godzilla like any other animal in a wildlife documentary. Have Sir David Attenborough narrate his adventures. But I guess Hollywood is too cowardly to take that experimental route.