What Monster does Godzilla fight?
When the long-awaited reboot of Godzilla arrived in theaters this past May, fans breathed a cautious sigh of relief. Director Gareth Edwards had made a film that, while flawed, was respectful of and faithful to many of the elements that made the 1954 original - as well as a number of later sequels - such a longstanding and iconic monster movie: the seriousness of intent even with a premise so outlandish, the sense of awe and mythic power surrounding Godzilla himself, and the epic clashes between gigantic, nightmarish beasts that have always been at the heart of the kaiju genre.
We can debate just how much Edwards should or shouldn’t have included of the latter as we watch Godzilla again with its recent Blu-ray release. A recent video that surfaced online boiled the king of the monsters’ total screentime in the two-hour film down to about eight minutes. I think there’s a general feeling now that Edwards, while nobly wanting to keep the monsters offscreen for as long as possible and create a terrific build-up to Godzilla’s first appearance, might have went a bit too far in that direction. It didn’t help that his most interesting human character (who I won’t name here) leaves the film less than halfway through and that the remaining ones are not that dynamic.
It’s still a spectacular film in many regards, and looks and sounds amazing on Blu-ray. The special features include a four-part behind-the-scenes documentary on various aspects of the production (totaling about 40 minutes), as well as three “declassified” MONARCH video files that are allegedly part of the “cover-up” about Godzilla’s existence. Some of this stuff – particularly the grainy 1940s newsreel footage – shows up in the movie, but this is a more complete version of it. I was hoping that this bonus content might include some hints about Godzilla’s eventual return, but no such luck: there’s only a vague warning that he might come back.
However, Legendary Pictures president Thomas Tull created a sensation at this past July’s Comic-Con when he announced during Legendary’s panel presentation that not only was Godzilla 2 confirmed for release on June 8, 2018, but that Toho was pleased enough with the first film to agree to license its other major monsters - namely Rodan, Mothra, and Godzilla’s three-headed arch-nemesis, King Ghidorah - to the American studio for use in future movies. So with a suddenly bigger kaiju playground to romp and smash around in, where does Legendary take the series from here?
Rodan was the second major kaiju to gain traction with the public and it would be great fun to see the giant winged reptile take flight in a huge modern production. There were aspects of Rodan in the first film’s MUTOs – the one that flew made me think of Rodan several times – so a second film could legitimately advance the case that Rodan is a new kind of MUTO. The mythology established in the new Godzilla hinted at the idea of vast creatures existing well before humankind ever set foot on the planet, which leaves plenty of room to re-introduce some of the bigger Toho stars with revised origins.
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