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Did you know there are 30 "Godzilla" movies?
Writer: Casey Chong
"Gojira", or internationally known as, "Godzilla", is more than just a monster movie. First appearing in 1954, "Godzilla" is famously known for revolutionising the
genre in the history of Japanese cinema. The black-and-white classic, in turn, became so successful at the Japan box office during its original release in 1954 and subsequently paved the way for more sequels and reboots over the course of 60 years. Since then, "Godzilla" is hailed as a Japanese icon and also became a mass inspiration for many future filmmakers around the world, including Mexican director Guillermo del Toro for his
-inspired Hollywood blockbuster, "Pacific Rim" in 2013. To date, there are 30 feature movies of Godzilla made in Japan and Hollywood (the 1998 American remake directed by Roland Emmerich and the 2014 reboot by Gareth Edwards). Following the success of Edwards' version of "Godzilla" two years ago, the Japanese version has finally made its own huge comeback with "Shin Godzilla" this year. Otherwise known as "Shin Godzilla" in Japan, the brand new reboot had already attracted positive reception both critically and financially when it first premiered in its native country back in July. Thankfully, local fans and audiences can finally witness the return of Japanese Godzilla stomping into our cinemas this 25 August. To honour the upcoming release of "Shin Godzilla", let's take a step back towards the past and check out every Godzilla movie examined and evaluated from its successful black-and-white origin in 1954 to the recent Gareth Edwards' Hollywood reboot in 2014.
1. "Godzilla" (1954)
Following an underwater nuclear bomb testing, an explosion has awakened an ancient sea monster known as Godzilla. The 165-feet monster subsequently emerged from Tokyo Bay and destroyed everything in its path using its brute strength and atomic breath. This is the one that started it all. Directed by Ishiro Honda, a protege of Akira Kurosawa, "Godzilla" is more than just watching a man in a monster suit rampaging the city of Tokyo. For all the mass destruction that the Godzilla monster has left in its wake, the scene is depicted as a cautionary metaphor that particularly struck a chord with many Japanese audiences back in the day. With its strong anti-nuclear message and the fact that "Godzilla" was released only nine years after the end of World War II, the original 1954 version is both harrowing and emotionally captivating at the same time. Suffice to say, this is not the tongue-in-cheek Godzilla monster as the subsequent sequels opted for a more commercial-friendly and, yes, cheesy version of this long-running
series. (Note: In 1956, "Godzilla" was re-released for American audiences under the title of "Godzilla, King Of The Monsters". The heavily re-edited version was dubbed in English and new footage was added to feature Raymond Burr playing an American reporter named Steve Martin).
2. "Godzilla Raids Again" (1955)
In this direct sequel to 1954's "Godzilla", "Godzilla Raids Again" continues with the iconic monster re-emerging and this time, Godzilla is not the only threat to humankind. As witnessed by the two pilots, Shoichi Tsukioka (Hiroshi Koizumi) and Koji Kobayashi (Minoru Chiaki), Godzilla is also seen battling against another ancient monster known as Anguirus. Released just a few months after the phenomenally successful release of 1954's "Godzilla", this quick sequel is known as the first Godzilla movie featuring the iconic monster fighting against another creature. Also credited as the last Godzilla movie made in black and white, "Godzilla Raids Again" is the polar opposite of the more serious-minded 1954 version of "Godzilla". While the titanic battle between Godzilla and Anguirus provides a decent level of entertainment, this second Godzilla movie drags so much with a half-hearted melodrama involving Tsukioka and Kobayashi. By the time the movie tries to regain its pace with the pilots (repetitively) trying to trap Godzilla by firing missiles against the icy mountain, "Godzilla Raids Again" is pretty much a forgettable effort. No wonder it's one of the lesser-known sequels within the Godzilla movie series.
3. "King Kong vs. Godzilla" (1962)
A fame-hungry pharmaceutical company spearheaded by Mr. Tako (Ichiro Arishima) decides to capture King Kong from the remote Faro Island and transport him over to Japan. This third Godzilla movie also sees the return of the iconic monster itself. The title of the movie blatantly says it all: it's King Kong versus Godzilla! It was the first movie that featured two iconic monsters (sorry, Anguirus in "Godzilla Raids Again") battling against each other, and the result is more than enough to make "King Kong vs. Godzilla" as the most profitable Godzilla movie to date in Japan. But for all the attention-grabbing title and premise, the movie is mostly cheesy and absurd. The Japanese version of King Kong's monster design looks sloppy and hardly feels intimidating. The human drama is almost thrown out of the window and replaced with everything that spells guilty-pleasure entertainment. Even with the return of original "Godzilla" director Ishiro Honda in "King Kong vs. Godzilla", this third movie is a far cry from the much superior 1954 version.
Cinema Online, 24 August 2016
Shin Godzilla (Japanese)
(25 Aug 2016)
(15 May 2014)
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