Top 10 Godzilla Films

29 06 2016

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It should come as no surprise that my favourite film series is of course Godzilla. I don’t know how many times I must have mentioned it to people I know, people passing by, or the number of posts I have written on the subject on this very blog that you are reading now (speaking of which, did you know this is my 500th post?). Yes, I love Godzilla movies! Ever since I was a young boy to right now and probably beyond, I have had a craving fascination for a film series starring a Giant Nuclear Irradiated Japanese Monster. While there are a lot of really great movies out there not including/starring Godzilla, it should come as no surprise that my Top 10 absolute favourite films are all Godzilla films. But which ones though? You see back in 2014, after the release of the 2014 Godzilla film, I thought I would finally work it out. What do I mean by that, well, you see the thing is that for many years I had always said which ones were likely and which ones would be high up but I never actually had a defined list of which were my top 10 favourites, just an idea. So with the 2014 film out of the way and to sort of celebrate I thought I would work it out.

Godzilla 2016

To zone in and find for definite which ones are my favourite and then order them was always going to be trivial. How I actually did it was like this:

  1. I ordered the films in order of when they were released starting from the original 1954 film, to the 2014 film.
  2. I then picked out the ones I thought were terrible (and there are 3 I can think of) and deleted them off the sheet.
  3. Even after cycling through some bad ones, I still had near 25 to choose from, so I just worked through them from there, picking out ones I did not feel strongly for until I get to a more definitive list (between 15 and 20) to then think more carefully about.
  4. As the process continued, some of the remaining films became obvious as to being ones I absolutely loved, so I then began to order those ones around a little.
  5. From there it became a process of difficult elimination as I analysed the films in my head and said to myself; “Is that one better than that one?”
  6. In the end it came down to 12 films and a difficult choice to get to specifically 10, so I worked hard and finally whittled it down to just 10 films.
  7. I then repeated step 5 to put the surviving 10 in order from 10 to 1.

Making this list was actually rather fun and interesting experience, and one I look forward to doing again in the future, but to which series I do not know (probably Studio Ghibli once I get more head on into it). There is a little bit of an issue with the choosing process, and that is I have not actually seen Invasion of Astro-Monster or Son of Godzilla. Invasion of Astro-Monster is on my shelf, and just haven’t got round to watching it yet, whilst I do remember seeing something of Son of Godzilla from when I was about 4 years old, but as I cannot currently get a copy of it, I am pretty much stuck. If anything, the only other one I have not seen is Godzilla Resurgence…..which has not been released yet. As this list goes though, there are still plenty of surprises…possibly. Some surprises for me as some films I was sure of being on here are not, and some surprises for you my wonderful readers as to where some films have been placed, however, being the Godzilla fan that I am, I will not have put it in that position unless I thought that it deserves to not only be on this list, but also in that position. Anyway, introduction’s over, I hope you enjoy this post as much as I have enjoyed working it all out. So sit back, relax (not unless you are like me and have to lean in on a computer to read something), and find out what my Top 10 Favourite Godzilla films are.

Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla (Toho Co. Ltd. - 1974)

10. Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla – An Ancient prophecy begins to come to fruition when a dark cloud in the shape of Mount Fuji appears in the sky. The prophecy states that a Giant Monster will come along to destroy the land. Things take a confusing turn however when the Monster that appears turns out to be Godzilla. Things take an even bigger twist when another monster, who also looks a lot like Godzilla appears also. With everyone by this point really confused, the first one decides to shed its skin and reveals itself to be a cybernetic clone.

Mechagodzilla

The 1970’s were not a great time for the Godzilla series. From the start of the decade the series was already beginning to slump with the mediocre release of Godzilla vs Hedorah. Things then got even worse as the two films that followed were mostly made up of Stock Footage and very little were actually filmed. This landslide from Great films to terrible films appeared to be unending, until veteran director Jun Fukuda returned. Having previously done three Godzilla films in the past, and being one of the most important directors in the series, it came down to him to turn Godzilla’s fortune’s around; which he did spectacularly. Out with the stock footage; back in with actual film making. This film in the series was also made up with a lot of firsts: While Godzilla and Anguirus make an appearance in the film, both King Caesar and the now legendary MechaGodzilla both made their debut in this film. The film manages to cram a lot of human story and character elements into it also, with the characters having to help the Monsters as best they can; because otherwise, the green-skinned ape aliens would win. With a very jazzy soundtrack from Masaru Sato and also showing how fun a night time chase around a ferry cruise could be, Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla remains one of the series most stand out and thoroughly enjoyable entries into the series.

Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (Toho Co. Ltd. - 2002)

9. Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla – In 1954, the monster simply called Godzilla attacked Japan and left Tokyo in ruins. Over the next 40+ years; several more Giant Monsters including Gaira, Mothra and a monster that looks a lot like Godzilla attack the nation. Having had enough, the country of Japan launches a new weapons program to build a machine specifically designed to defend themselves from these attacks. The machine code-named Kiryu is built on the fossilized skeleton of the original Godzilla. When Godzilla suddenly reappears, Kiryu is sent into action. After hardly any battle, Godzilla leaves, but Kiryu runs amok in Tokyo, but why?

GAMG4

Since the release of Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla, MechaGodzilla has been redeployed in a film sense on several occasions. But the 2 times between this and the original did not fare so well and did not impact all that greatly. By the Millennium, and with the new series in full swing, Toho brought MechaGodzilla back, and created one of the Millennium Series most stand out films. In comparison to the above mentioned film, this one is not crammed full of characters, with instead only 3 really appearing as leads; but in this instance they are worked on in a great deal. The story and setting produce an initially terrifying but also heart-warming story telling of the connection between man and machine while also creating an initial yet terrifying plot twist, with not Godzilla necessarily running amok, but the weapon. Still providing the best in monster mash-ups, and up to date special effects as well as terrific pieces by Michiru Oshima for an unforgettable main movie theme, Against is an absolutely superb film and is easily Mechagodzilla’s best film appearance to date (not unless Legendary have plans).

Godzilla (Legendary

8. Godzilla 2014 – In 1954; something is discovered by the American navy; this thing is quickly covered up and supposedly destroyed. Nearly 50 years later, a nuclear power plant is destroyed supposedly in an earthquake. Sometime later, the husband of a scientist who died in the power plant goes mad trying to prove it wasn’t an accident, and he was right, as inside the power plant is a Giant Monster which escapes it’s confines and goes on the rampage.

Godzilla Beach

In 2010, Legendary Pictures announced it was going to make a brand new American Godzilla film, even though in the end we had to wait 4 years for it to be released. I went to see it on opening night, and absolutely loved it. It was near perfect, Godzilla himself was perfect, and the new MUTO’s were amazing creatures, all combined into a very human story (that seemed strangely similar to Gamera: Guardian of the Universe) supported by a terrific selection of cast, special effects and heart pounding music (composed by Alexandre Desplat), all brought together by Director Gareth Edwards. I enjoyed it so much that I went to see it another two times at the cinema. But for me, the real proof of the pudding came the Saturday after it was released. I had the night off, and really wanted to watch a Godzilla film for some reason, so I watched Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster, one of my favourite Showa films and one I have always enjoyed. But right there and then, I was struggling to enjoy it as much as I used to…..I wonder why?

Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (Toho Co., Ltd. - 1966)

7. Ebirah: Horror of the Deep – A young man who is looking for his brother lost at sea, finds a couple of people at a dance contest who take him to see some boats. They go aboard one, and the following morning the young man steals it, which ironically has already been stolen. After several days at sea, they get caught in a storm and the boat is destroyed by a giant claw. They all wash up on shore and discover that the giant claw belongs to a giant Lobster called Ebirah. Yet more nightmares are to be realised however as the island is the base for a terrorist group called the Red Bamboo, and the island boasts yet another secret.

Ebirah

With the Godzilla film series now in full swing, directing duties were handed over to hot up and coming director Jun Fukuda. Most of his previous work involved comedy and mystery, but in all fairness, Ebirah wasn’t any normal Godzilla film. It was originally intended to be made as a King Kong film, but Toho decided to make it a Godzilla film instead; such is why Godzilla does not smash-up a city, as well as show off several un-Godzilla like traits including attacking Mothra after supposedly now being friends. Any who; as a young boy, this one stood out for me a lot as for quite a while it was the only Godzilla film I had VHS access to, until the collection grew. As time has passed and other films have come that I prefer to it, this remains one of the films I have enjoyed the most. It’s not just a connection to my youth, but also a film that I have come to love with a great deal of memory and passion with many scenes, quotes and a heart thrilling caper like soundtrack being many a highlight. It’s place on this list always a guarantee; more than any other Godzilla film, it’s possibly the most enduring and one that I have conceivably the most memories of just watching it over and over again, even remembering specific times and days of watching it.

The Return of Godzilla (Toho Co. Ltd. - 1984)

6. The Return of Godzilla – In 1984, it’s been 30 years since Godzilla attacked Japan, but has not been since. His presence has still cast a shadow over the nation even as it progresses into a modern high-tech future. Out at sea, a fishing boat is discovered where only one member of its crew survived. He talks about seeing a Monster and as time passes, more incidents get reported, and it’s all revealed to be true, that Godzilla has indeed returned.

Super-X

After nearly a decade since Godzilla’s last movie appearance (Terror of Mechagodzilla), Toho finally decided to bring the monster back during the ever-growing tensions of the cold war. It was perfect, with the monster having lost his terrifying persona over 20 years of film making, they brought him back to his terrifying self in a movie that ignored all events of the films in between this and the original. This was also only the second time in the series that Godzilla attacked a city and did not fight another monster. Yes, while we all love a good fight, Toho showcased how terrifying, realistic and enjoyable a Godzilla film could be when he is not surrounded by other Monsters. This film would go on to kick-start the best era of Godzilla movies to date: the Heisei series; and while Godzilla the hero would come out to play a couple more times, the producers worked really hard to maintain Godzilla’s terrifying position and persona throughout. More than any film, this one ensured Godzilla’s long lasting cinema presence, one that is still being seen to this day.

Destroy All Monsters (Toho Co. Ltd. - 1968)

5. Destroy All Monsters – The year is 1999 (hypothetically), and all the monsters of the world have been collected and made to live together on an island decidedly called Monster Land. All of a sudden communications with the control station nearby is lost, and the supposedly ‘contained’ monsters all start attacking the Major Cities of the world, all except Tokyo?

Mothra, Gorosaurus, Rodan, Kumonga, Anguirus, King Ghidorah, Varan, Godzilla, Manda, Baragon, Minilla

What was originally intended to be the final Godzilla film, and as such was given a much bigger budget, remains one of the most popular in the series. Having just done some research, I have discovered that this is one of only a few Japanese Godzilla films to have a fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In fact, for about 11 years, this was my favourite film. What sets this film apart from others is its large cast of Monsters. Loads of Monsters appear in this film, some remaining real favourites and some of the most endearing monsters in the series. Plenty of city destruction takes place, with others than Tokyo being hit for once, all the while setting the early instigations into an alien conspiracy. Expect some of the most memorable pieces of music, and some of the best military vs monster scenes to date as Godzilla leads the charge of the Monsters (which includes but is not limited to: Gorosaurus, Rodan, Varan, Manda and Baragon).

Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (Toho Co. Ltd. - 1991)

4. Godzilla vs King Ghidorah – In 1992, over the sky of Tokyo, a UFO is spotted. It is eventually tracked, where it turns out not to be aliens, but people from the future. These people go on to talk about the future non-existence of Japan as a nation and that the country is to be finally destroyed by Godzilla. They send a team back in time to an island battlefield in World War Two, where the Dinosaur that would become Godzilla first appears; sending it to the bearing sea, preventing it from evolving into Godzilla. Returning to the present day, rumours of a new monster begin to circulate.

MOTHER

This film easily remains one of the most beloved films in the series by fans. After struggling to get Godzilla going with the release of Godzilla vs Biollante, it was decided that for their next film that Godzilla would fight his arch-nemesis for the first time in nearly 20 years: the three-headed golden dragon; King Ghidorah. This new film in essence is based on the popularity of the time travelling element in the recently released Back to the Future films while also combining it with a story that focusses on how Godzilla became Godzilla. Its story; while basic does achieve quite a bit, with the implication that with Godzilla removed from history, King Ghidorah takes his place and is under the control of people with vengeance on their mind, only for their plans to eventually backfire. Godzilla vs King Ghidorah in the process creates some terrific scenes of city destruction, as well as not one but two incredibly well fought battles as Godzilla goes one on one with his Greatest Nemesis, in a battle that leaves one monster horribly scarred for life.

Godzilla (Toho Co., Ltd. - 1954)

3. Godzilla 1954 – Out at sea, several fishing boats are mysteriously destroyed. On a nearby island, the village is destroyed a few days later. A team is dispatched to investigate, and make a chilling discovery, one that will bring repercussions for the country of Japan for decades to come.

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1954 was a big year for Japanese cinema, especially more so for Toho. A few months earlier they released the Akira Kurosawa masterpiece Seven Samurai, but on set; apparently everyone was talking about something called Gojira. After trying to produce a film in Jakarta which ultimately fell through, Toho producer Tomoyuki Tanaka took two pieces of inspiration: the Lucky Dragon 5 fishing boat incident and the Ray Harryhausen film; The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and in the process created Japan’s first movie Monster. Taking into account the destruction dealt upon Japan at the end of World War 2 by not one, but two Nuclear Bombs, Tanaka created a creature born of the forces of Nuclear Power and Nature’s answer to humanities destructive attitude and set this new monster loose in Japan’s Capital. Backed up with a terrifying soundtrack by composer Akira Ifukube, and the latest in Special Effects by Eiji Tsuburaya, all under the direction of Ishirō Honda; I believe they say: “The rest is History!”

Godzilla vs Mothra (Toho Co. Ltd. - 1992)

2. Godzilla vs Mothra – Out in space, a meteor strikes earth, and a Typhoon ensues revealing a giant egg. A team is dispatched to investigate the island where they find the egg and are told a harrowing tale of how an ancient battle was fought between Earth’s guardian Mothra, and another monster similar in design called Battra, who might have reawakened.

Battra

For over 11 years or so, Destroy all Monsters was my favourite film, until by chance I was able to get a copy of this film, and within one showing I knew this was my new favourite film. What is basically a film telling something of a lesson of the importance of keeping earth clean, and what is renowned as being rather rushed, is also a fantastically enjoyable film. It is rife with elements of tension; lots of city based destruction, and so far the only film in the series to contain one of the series best creations, the creature known as Battra. Containing some great acting, a fully thriving in-depth story and some amazing Monster Powers to create a full on power play of a Monster Battle climax, Godzilla vs Mothra in sense recreates the story of Mothra vs Godzilla, but ultra-charges it into the early to mid-nineties, and in the process creates one of the series best films to date.

Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (Toho Co. Ltd. - 2001)

1. Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack – Across Japan, several incidents take place, in each one a Monster being spotted. It has been nearly 50 years since Godzilla attacked and has not been seen since, and his print on Japan’s history is slowly being forgotten. Meanwhile a young Science Fiction TV Presenter goes on the trail of an ancient legend concerning the reawakening of several monsters, monsters determined to make sure Japan does not forget its history, but more importantly, make sure Japan is defended from the return of the King of the Monsters.

Baragon (2001)

During Christmas 2007 (I think it was 2007), I received a couple of Godzilla DVD’s from my parents. One of them was this, with the other being Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. I was certain that Tokyo S.O.S. was going to be the better of the two, boy was I wrong. I had no real clue as to what this film was going to be like, but boy did I enjoy it. Directed by the man behind the Gamera Heisei Trilogy: Shusuke Kaneko and including a mystical based soundtrack from Kow Otani, Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack is a very different film to its predecessors. What we have here is less a modernistic take on Godzilla, but more one that relies on the myths and legends of Japan’s history and combining it with the terror that Godzilla should stand for; and that’s what we get. We get three Monsters teaming up to take on Godzilla which includes Baragon, while Godzilla himself shows off his real power. He has bare white eyes, and can create an atom bomb like explosion from the power of his atomic breath. The monsters are relatively smaller than before, but their power isn’t by far. Its story of a Mystical history is addictive, its cast is effective, its soundtrack is enchanting, its effects are magical and its ending is terrifying. I watched this film many a time before I finally realised that this was my favourite film, and my favourite film it remains. To me at least (how long this will last is yet to be seen, but for now), of this I am certain; this is the best of the best, My Favourite Godzilla Film.

GENEPOOL

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Godzilla Resurgence News –Trailer

18 04 2016

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Within a few months of the release of the 2014 Godzilla film, and after the announcement of a sequel to that one; TOHO, the owners and original home of Godzilla announced that they were going to make a new film too, making it the first Japanese Godzilla film to be released since Final Wars in 2004.

Godzilla Final Wars Poster (Toho Co. Ltd. - 2004)

Now when I first heard this announcement, I was very excited, and confused. I did not know what this new one meant to the already announced sequel to 2014, but it appears that this new one and 2014 would have no relation and that the sequel was still going ahead, of which I was very happy, as I absolutely loved the new one. I was also rather worried too, as I had no idea whether or not I would get to see it given the historical issues with Japanese Godzilla films being shown in the UK, especially since the Millennium, as most of the showings appeared to have dried up except for that 1998 film and more recently of course the 2014 film. Anyway, I had no idea originally what to think other than excitement and worry as whether or not I will get to see it. That reason alone has restricted my excitement for the new Japanese film, and put it very bottom of my top 10 films to look forward to in 2016; because, well, why should I pour so much excitement into a film’s release if in the end I don’t get to see it?

E14

Anyway, forgetting the above issues, it is something to feel genuine excitement for. It’s a new Godzilla film from not an outside company, but by the company that gave birth to this creature over 60 years ago. It was going to be interesting to see where this one would go and what the film would involve. Would it be a sequel to a previous film, would (like the Millennium series of films) be a direct film on from the original 1954 film, what would this film be about? Over the past few months, news has been limited, but some pieces of info have been revealed over that time including a title (and one of 2 films to be released with the word Resurgence in the title this year), images of Godzilla, and even a small teaser trailer. We know that Attack on Titan director Shinji Higuchi and Neon Genesis Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno are both co directing this film. We know that Hiroki Hasegawa, Satomi Ishihara and Yutaka Takenouchi are starring in it. Plus we know who is producing the film’s score in Shirō Sagisu. We also heard the plan that this Monster was going to be the Biggest Form of the Big G to date. Well now we have a proper trailer, and it is both exciting, but also rather worrying……….again.

G8

This new trailer does have a good look to it. it looks a lot different to previous Godzilla films, looks much bigger in content and detail, it shows pictures of the cast, as well as the obligatory running away scenes and moments with Tanks in it. The plot is still relatively unknown, but information suggests that this may be a sort of Japanese Reboot, a sort of modern retake on the original, presenting the Arrival of this new monster as being the first attack and nothing to do with any event (whether anything happened in the 1950’s), or at least that is the way I am understanding it. This trailer though, while devoid of detailed sound suggests such a thing too. The film makers did announce that it was their plan for this one to be a lot like the original film and info has suggested that too, but part of me in writing this thinks I may be skimming over a bigger issue.

But yeah, this film does look interesting, and makes me think a lot of the Gamera Heisei Trilogy in it’s current presentation, like they are going down that route and trying to pull off something with a detailed story and plan something of a series from it. The effects look pretty good, and show scenes of imagery similar to that I think of Godzilla vs Biollante, plus also some effects that look like well detailed uses of CGI, especially when you see Godzilla’s tail swing over-head.

Burning Godzilla

But as said before, I feel there is a major issue with Godzilla, in his image. It’s a widely known fact that Godzilla’s skin is shown in such a way that it looks like he is scarred, scarred from the brutal testing of the Nuclear Weapons that woke him up, scarred for life. However, his image still looks smooth, he is not a shrivelled up abomination, like an enlarged zombie from a horror movie. He has always looked reptilian. In this trailer, his in-depth image I think is very similar to that of his appearance in Godzilla vs Destoroyah in the level of red on show. Similarly I think he also looks a bit like the creature Nemesis in the Jeremy Robinson book; Project Nemesis.

Project Nemesis (Smashwords Edition - 2012)

However, his general image I think is overdone. He looks like a shrivelled up abomination, like something taken out of a horror film. He just looks awful, off-putting, not the sleek reptilian giant we all know and love. He just looks hideous and off-putting. Was this the intention? Because I sure hope not! From a distance it does not look too bad, but a close-up on his face just looks horrid. What have they done to him? When he roars, he looks like the killer Teddy Bear out of Krampus. The roar is still the same thankfully, no sign yet of a Deathray, but, what else can I say…..?

Godzilla 2016

Avoiding that point for now and secretly hoping that the design and current look is currently unfinished, it’s nice to see this film going somewhere and this recent showcasing sort of brings me back into the fold with it. Whether or not I get to see it is still hanging out there, but now I am a little bit more desiring to see it (but not for Godzilla’s appearance).

GENEPOOL





The Regional Mothra Mismatch Problem

8 04 2015

Rebirth of Mothra (Toho Co. Ltd. - 1996)

Recently I moved my PS3 back into my bedroom from its home of many years; the front room. I decided to do this because it’s hard to play on it standing up, and I hardly go online with it anymore other than to download the many updates for the machine/games as well as to post my trophy winnings on Facebook. By moving it back upstairs however, I am more able to get into the games I play plus I am now more able to watch my small collection of Blu-ray discs (I still prefer DVD’s). Why am I talking about this, well, the other day I discovered a problem.

PS3 Logo

Back in about 2011 I managed to purchase a copy of the first two Heisei Gamera films on Blu-ray. I already had Gamera 3 on DVD, but had not seen the first 2. The opportunity to watch the first 2 was a big one, but also a very risky one. For a number of years now, I have collected Region 1 Godzilla films. Why region 1 in particular? Well that answer is rather simple: DVD Region Codes. Basically, there are very few Godzilla films released in the United Kingdom (and probably most of Europe), at all. Thanks to the BFI though, I have a copy of the 1954 film on DVD. King Kong vs Godzilla  meanwhile was released in about 2006 to coincide with the home media release of the 2005 King Kong. And of course the 1998 and 2014 films have been released also. But apart from those cases, no other Godzilla films have been released. It was once the case that channels like Channel 4 used to air them, and as such is where most of my fandom of growing up with Godzilla came from. But for some unknown reason, not a single classic nor recent Japanese Godzilla film has really been shown (other than KKvG, 1998 and 2014) on UK television for some time now. It really does surprise me that these films are not shown on channels like Film4 or even more bizarrely; SyFy.

Godzilla 2014 (Legendary Pictures - 2014)

When a Japanese Godzilla DVD/Blu-ray does get released, or re-released, The UK (and probably most of Europe) is seemingly ignored from the release, and no plans for a Region 2 release are announced. It is possible to purchase the Region 1 films through places like Amazon UK, but in order to watch them; I need to have access to a machine that can play Region 1 films. The first time I tried I discovered my PC could; so no problem there; but the problem is just escalating. With the approaching dawn of more and more Blu-ray’s being produced, eventually it will become the standard format; much like DVD’s did for VHS. So in order to counter this issue I will need to locate a device to play Region 1 Blu-ray discs. But then; with the likelihood of Internet streaming taking over, I will need to find a way of accessing them from there, but as is the case; many internet sites prevent some countries, from looking at things from other countries (as is the case sometimes with YouTube), so it will either be the case of finding one website that allows the opportunity of watching such films in the UK, or, (more likely) not watch them at all.

YouTube

The only way around this problem really, is to have a UK/European release of these films (which could bring the possibility of a box set, maybe, but not likely at this rate) from companies who have produced Region 1 releases of the films, from Toho themselves or from a UK/Europe based home media company. One other option, is that Japan has the same region code as the UK (and possibly most of Europe) so a UK release or imported copies might not be too much of a problem, however, I don’t know if they will come with  either English Subtitles or an English Dub (or, I suppose I could learn Japanese).

Toho Logo

I am trying really hard not to turn this into a rant.

Biollante

Anyway back to the Mothra problem; my PS3 does act as a multi-regional Blu-ray player, and so I was able to watch that Gamera Heisei box set, plus the recent Godzilla vs Biollante release, as well as region 2 Blu-ray coded films. The other day however, I discovered a problem. Back in October time I managed to get the Rebirth of Mothra Blu-ray set. Finally an opportunity to watch the Rebirth of Mothra films and get to see Desghidorah in movie form. The other day I loaded it into the PS3, and I got a message saying there was a mix-match/miss-match problem involving the region coding. I went back to the PS3 menu. It recognised the disc as the film, but just would not play it. I reloaded the disc, same thing again. I loaded the second disc, same problem. I then decided to load my Blu-ray copy (region A) of Godzilla vs Biollante just to make sure it wasn’t the machine. It loaded fine. I then tried the Gamera disc, fine too. What it meant was that despite being the same region as the two other discs, I am unable to watch my copies of Rebirth of Mothra (at least for the time being). I have no idea what to do, so for now I am just letting it gather dust in the hope that one day I may get to watch it (unless the problem I stated above persists, in which case I may never get to see it).

Aqua Mothra

For now, I don’t know what to do. My hope is that someday, someone may finally release Region 2 copies of the Godzilla, Gamera, and the Mothra films (some Ultraman might be nice too) for people in the UK and Europe to watch in a Region 2 format. Until then it remains a constant struggle of hoping something will work on a machine, and coping when it doesn’t.

Desghidorah

GENEPOOL (This is pretty much the same reason why I am not all that much looking forward to the new Japanese Godzilla film in 2016, as I highly doubt it’s going to get released in the UK, either on DVD/Blu-ray, or in cinemas).





A Brief History of Godzilla (100th Post)

25 05 2011

Godzilla 1954 - Present

Godzilla is a Gigantic Nuclear Monster. He is a force of nature that is Indestructible; it is a symbol of nature taking out its revenge on the world. Godzilla is also a Cinema Icon staring in 29 films. I thought that I would give you a brief history of Godzilla and show how one film in 1954 went on to become the Greatest film series in the History of Cinema (I will try to keep this brief, I might go into more detail another time or release it as a book).

Godzilla was created by Japanese film producer Tomoyuki Tanaka in 1954. In World War 2 Japan was hit by 2 nuclear weapons. Japan surrendered and around the pacific the Americans used the area to test new weapons. In 1952 there was a re-release of King Kong and in 1953 Ray Harryhausen released The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. It was from the inspiration of these 2 films plus the event of weapon testing and 2 nuclear bombs which became the inspiration of a film. The other driving forces behind the film were director Ishiro Honda and special effects creator Eiji Tsuburaya. Tsuburaya would later become known as the Father of Japanese Special Effects.

“I was an actor in a film by Akira Kurosawa –The Seven Samurai. It was a very long job, it took a whole year to shoot but while were working on it, we kept hearing strange rumours. On set we would hear people talking about something called Godzilla. We kept hearing this name and none of us had any Idea what it was but nobody would tell us” – Yoshio Tsuchiya

Tanaka had an Idea for a large creature to come ashore and attack Japan. Eiji Tsuburaya told his Art Director Teizo Toshimitsu and Toshimitsu made many models out of clay and Tsuburaya chose the last one that Toshimitsu made. The name of the Monster came from two words Gojira (Japanese for Gorilla) and Kujira (Japanese for whale). It comes from an interesting story that may or may not have happened where 2 guys at Toho had these names and there was a ring to it. Another Idea is that it was renamed Godzilla when the American Distributor picked it up and edited the film to make it more appealing to an American audience. Another idea is that the name comes from the way that the name is pronounced. Many different ideas but all together the monster is called GODZILLA. Eiji Tsuburaya wanted to use Stop Motion effects like in King Kong but because of the time (3 Months) and budget constraints they decided to use a suit and use models to smash-up. Composer Akira Ifukube was brought in to make the music for the film and something else. Honda gave total control for the film’s music to Ifukube and told him that the music was the final part of the special effects. The monster also had to Roar (Reptiles don’t Roar).

“We all went down to the zoo to look for ideas but that was no use, there was no precedent in the natural world. We tried different bird noises but none of those worked either so in the end we used a double bass. First we fiddled with the peg box on the top of the instrument then we opened up the tail-piece pulled it away to give ourselves more room to move and then put on gloves to protect our hands. Then we played the double bass in a very unorthodox manner by scrapping our hands down the strings” – Akira Ifukube

The film starts out with a ship catching fire followed by many other ships. Then during a storm on a Japanese island, the village island is destroyed by some unknown force. During the time that follows you get this idea of something Big, Bad and Dangerous heading towards Japan and then it Arrives. The film became a huge hit in Japan and was nominated for two awards at the Japanese Academy Awards and won the award for Best Special Effects. It however did not win the award for best film which went to the Seven Samurai. The film was picked up by an American Distributor and was edited with extra scenes included starring Raymond Burr (Perry Mason and Ironside).  Godzilla became a hit around the world. 5 Months later Toho release Godzilla Raids again, this film was the first film to involve monster fights. Godzilla fights an Ankylosaurus type creature called Anguirus. Anguirus would later become one of Godzilla’s most trusted allies (and one of my personal favourites from the series).

At the time of release there was not really an Idea for a film series just an idea to make big monster movies and so Toho later released Rodan in 1956 and Mothra in 1961. It was not until the release of King Kong vs Godzilla was released in 1962 that the film series started due to the popularity of the film. The 1960’s saw many iconic films in the series and introduced several new characters to the series like Mothra and Rodan as well as inventing new characters all together like King Ghidorah. Godzilla also changed in character by becoming the hero of Mankind and saving mankind from monster threats. Baby Godzilla also turned up as well. Suits were still being used and are still used to the present day.

King Ghidorah 1964 - Present

Eiji Tsuburaya eventually left Toho to start his own production company making shows for television. This would lead to the highly successful Ultraman Series. Eiji Tsuburaya sadly passed away in 1970.

Godzilla eventually had competition in the form of Gamera made by film company Daiei. Gamera is a Giant Turtle who can breathe fire and fly with Rocket Boosters.

The 1970’s saw a much darker turn in story lines for Godzilla and also some scary films (well I found them scary). In 1971 Godzilla vs Hedorah was released and had a subliminal message in it with Godzilla attacking a monster made of Sludge. Director Yoshimitsu Banno wanted Godzilla to fight not just a monster but also pollution. Tomoyuki Tanaka was in hospital during the production of the film. When he recovered and watched the film he told Banno that he would never direct another film at Toho. Following Godzilla vs Hedorah was Godzilla vs Gigan. A film involving Godzilla, Anguirus, King Ghidorah and new monster Gigan. This film had almost a tag team feel about it with 2 Monsters fighting 2 other Monsters. Godzilla vs Megalon had the same idea but had new monster Megalon instead of King Ghidorah and new monster Jet Jaguar instead of Anguirus. Megalon did not do so well because of the constant use of Stock Footage. Toho followed this up with two Really Good films. Both of which introduced a new character which would go on to become one of the series’ most popular Monsters – Mecha-Godzilla. Mecha-Godzilla would also become one of Godzilla’s most powerful enemies (all 3 versions have come very close to killing the King of the Monsters). Godzilla vs Mecha-Godzilla was released in 1974 and Terror of Mecha-Godzilla was released in 1975. Terror of Mecha-Godzilla was the last Godzilla film directed by Ishiro Honda who sadly passed away in 1993. Terror of Mecha-Godzilla was the last in the Showa Series due to the crash in Japanese Cinema and an Oil Crisis as well.

In 1984 Godzilla returned in The Return of Godzilla (one of my top favourites in the series). This was the first film in the Heisei Series and a few things were changed. Godzilla’s suit was updated to make it much more realistic and more intimidating. Godzilla was no longer the Hero of mankind and returned to being an Indestructible threat. Another difference was that the previous films except the original were forgotten for the purpose of the story. So Godzilla did not fight Monsters in the last 30 years but only appeared in 1954 and has not appeared since – Until Now. The Return of Godzilla did not have any other giant Monsters except Godzilla. OK there was some big Insects but nothing Gigantic enough to fight Godzilla. The film also has some close up shots of Godzilla’s Foot showing some scale size for people wanting to know how big Godzilla is. There is also a brilliant scene where he pushes a Skyscraper so it will fall on top of a Flying Machine sent to attack him.

Following this film came many others in the series like Godzilla vs Biollante (one of only 3 films in the series I have not seen). They also brought back some Popular Monsters from the series like Mothra, Rodan, Mecha-Godzilla and King Ghidorah while also creating some new Monsters for the series like Mecha-King Ghidorah, Space Godzilla, Moguera, Destroyah and (one of my top favourite Monsters from the series) Battra. Baby Godzilla also made a return but had a more dinosaur look about him and the films also showed the life-cycle of Baby Godzilla as well with him starting out hatching from an egg, to becoming a bigger Baby Godzilla to finally becoming a mature Godzilla in Godzilla vs Destroyah. (2 Godzilla’s in one film even though one is a lot bigger).

Mothra 1961 - Present

Gamera films returned to Japanese cinema as well during the Heisei series with a more updated and realistic look. I have only seen Gamera 3: Awakening of Irys which is very enjoyable (it makes me want to watch the previous 2 Gamera Films in the series).

Godzilla vs Destroyah would become the last one in the Heisei Series and only the second film where Godzilla dies. He dies when his Nuclear Heart goes into Meltdown. However instead of destroying the earth as he goes into meltdown all his power goes into Godzilla Junior (who was killed by Destroyah earlier in the film) and brings Junior back to life but now as a fully grown Godzilla. Godzilla vs Destroyah has an interesting Story connection with the 1954 Original Godzilla. Godzilla gets killed in the original and in Destroyah bizarre creatures are found where Godzilla died in 1954. Momoko Kōchi plays the character of Emiko Yamane who was also in the 1954 original. Tokyo is not the only city to be attacked in Godzilla vs Destroyah, Hong Kong gets attacked at the beginning of the film. This was also the last film that Akira Ifukube provided the soundtrack, even though some of his work was used in the Millenium series. Ifukube sadly passed away in 2006. The film ends with a montage of clips from the first film and films from the Heisei series. One year after the release of Godzilla vs Destroyah Tomoyuki Tanaka sadly passed away.

In 1992 Sony were given the rights to make an American Godzilla film. After the success of Independence Day Sony hired Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin to make the film, but they only agreed to do so if they were allowed to do what they wanted with the Movie.

In 1998 Godzilla was released and did very well at the box office earning $379,014,294 at the box office. However the fans were not so sure about it. Kenpachiro Satsuma who was in the suit between 1984 and 1997 walked out of a Tokyo Screening and told reporters “It’s not Godzilla; it does not have the spirit”. The film was not really a Godzilla film. Godzilla 1998 was just a monster movie with an Iconic name. Calling it something else might not have drawn the crowds in but giving it a name that people know about will make the crowds come. They were probably trying to make a Godzilla film but the film itself is not a Good representation of the King of the Monsters. Ok some parts of the film is actually quite good but it is no-where near as good as the Japanese Films. The creature in the film was later renamed by Shogo Tomiyama (President of Toho) to Zilla. He felt that the 1998 film took the God out of Godzilla. Godzilla is not some animal that can be harmed by Man Made Weapons. Godzilla is a Gigantic Indestructible Force of Nature. Modern Man Made weapons have no effect on Godzilla.

In December 1999 Godzilla returned but this time it was a Japanese Godzilla film. Godzilla 2000 (my joint second Favorite film) started the Millennium series. Each film in the series (except Tokyo S.O.S.) used the original as a launch point for the film. The idea works well and adds the idea of Godzilla being a legend that happened over 40 years previously. It also brought monster fights with it and once again created new Monsters for the series like Orga and Megaguiras while also bringing back some Monsters from the other series like King Ghidorah, Mothra and Mecha-Godzilla (also known as Kiryu in Godzilla Against Mecha-Godzilla). Also for some Monsters in the Millenium series it was the first time they appeared in Godzilla films in almost 30 years.

Mecha-Godzilla 1974 - Present

In 2001 Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack was released. The film involved 3 Guardian Monsters and Godzilla. Even though not mentioned in the Title Baragon makes an appearance in the film. This is Baragon’s first appearance since the Showa Series and is a Good addition to the film. This is my Favorite film in the series and My Favorite film in the world. It is an amazing film. Tokyo S.O.S. is the only film in the Millennium series not to use the 1954 original as a starting off point. Tokyo S.O.S. was a direct sequel to the previous film Godzilla Against Mecha-Godzilla. Tokyo S.O.S. also contains one of the best and most mysterious post credits scenes in cinema history. A possible launching off point for a future film.

In 2004 it was an important year. Godzilla’s 50th Anniversary. So to celebrate Toho released Godzilla: Final Wars. Shogo Tomiyama decided to put the series on a 10 year break following this, but this film was amazing (my joint second Favorite film). It contained many Monsters that have not appeared in the series for 30 years. Some of them with improvements, in particular Gigan who now looked even more dangerous. Zilla also makes an appearance but does not last very long. Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura the film is a lot like Destroy all Monsters with a Giant Monster Battle Royal where all the worlds Monsters fight Godzilla.

godzilla2014_poster2[1]

Since 2004 not much has happened with the series. Yoshimitsu Banno decided to try and release a 3D Godzilla film for IMAX Cinemas called Godzilla 3D to the Max. However this was later scrapped to make a new American Godzilla film. This is a reboot to the American series with Legendary Pictures producing it. The film is based on the Japanese Monster and is not related in any way to the 1998 film. Gareth Edwards has been signed on to direct and he is a fan of Godzilla so we all know it’s going to be what we want to see.  With a 2012 release to the film we will not have to wait long. Not only that it is now 2011 and in 2014 the 10 year break will be over.

“One hopes there is always this same reliable, Death Dealing, Fire Breathing, Mutant Dinosaur. You know so the creative’s just have fun with the humans in the foreground and leave Godzilla to his own devices” – Alex Cox

The future for Godzilla is uncertain at this point. We don’t know what the film makers plans are but Godzilla is not something they will forget about so I think it is more of a certainty that Godzilla will be back and continue to Smash, Crash, Pull Down and Destroy Cities worldwide while always being a Cinema Icon the world over. Godzilla will always be The King of The Monsters.

GENEPOOL (I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I have enjoyed writing it)








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