One More Try at an American Godzilla

The latest news is that Warner Bros. is going to make an attempt at bringing an Americanized version of Godzilla to the big screen, hopefully by 2012, now that Legendary Pictures has closed a deal with Toho, the Japanese company that owns the rights to the character. The good news is that it’s planning to pay respect to the original film and avoiding the botched 1998 effort that nobody liked.

America has been trying to make their own version of Godzilla since the beginning. When Ishiro Honda’s 1954 film Gojira hit theaters in Japan, the giant monster spawned from nuclear radiation and bent on destroying Tokyo became a huge hit, prompting Jewell Enterprises to get the American rights, edit the hell out of it, add in scenes with Raymond Burr to serve as an English-language narrator and retitle it Godzilla: King of the Monsters in 1956. The film was toned down, but it retained enough of its anti-nuclear content that it remained somewhat subversive, and helped make the giant lizard a cultural icon.

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The ensuing decades had turned the frightening monster into campy fun with hordes of other giant beasts, aka kaiju, always trying to make their marks, and Godzilla became the defender of Tokyo rather than its destroyer. He even had a son who puffed smoke rings instead of breathing atomic fire. So it was with high hopes that Independence Day director Roland Emmerich set out to use the magic of CG to reinvent the creature and update him, in keeping with his penchant for making disaster movies of every size and shape. Yet, his Godzilla fell far short of everyone’s expectations, crafting an obnoxious, fairly dumb film with awful attempts at comedy that was critically reviled and is widely considered a disaster itself. The monster looked like a giant iguana, and half the movie was not about Godzilla, but more about little monster hatchlings which made it feel like a complete retread of The Lost World and its velociraptors.

So it’s with fingers crossed, hoping for the best, that fans like myself and everyone else who wanted to burn the screen in 1998 are taking this news that they’re going to try it again. Back then, we were convinced that we’d have to wait another 40 years to see someone try to do it right. With any luck and hopefully a quality director expected to be announced soon, WB may cut that figure down to 14 years.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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