Godzilla film directors. Who was your favorite? Who was the most unique? Who should have done more? Who is your least favorite? Who will be next?
I really like Omori, Kaneko, Anno and Highuchi.
Godzilla... Truly a God incarnate.
I like Honda, Okawara, Anno and Highuchi.
“Banana oil.”- George Takei, Gigantis: The Fire Monster
Honda will always be the classic. I appreciate what Edwards wanted for 2014, but I don't think the writing supported the film enough for it. I have high hopes for Dougherty and Wingard. I really want to see Anno and Higuchi team up again for another film whether it be a sequel to Shin Godzilla or not. I'd also like to see Kaneko make a return.
Agreed on Honda. He made the most films and they were very versatile. Practically any basic tone or formula in the series can be traced back to one of his movies and the majority of the imitators didn't hit their dramatic beats as well as his films.
I really am looking forward to Dougherty and Wingard's films, but I don't have particularly high hopes for them. I think they'll be executive visions more than directorial pieces--Especially Godzilla vs. Kong. It's one of the reasons I want Toho to get Godzilla back, just so we can get away from the corporate decision making behind cinematic universes and embrace more auteur-esque pieces like Anno's Shin Godzilla. (That's of course assuming Toho will continue to give their filmmakers the same freedom.)
Kaneko is one I'd like to see return, but not to do a sequel to GMK. I'd rather see what Kaneko's thoughts on the franchise are today and run with a fresh start from there.
I agree that Godzilla vs. Kong will probably be an executive made movie, but I think with both 2014 and Kong, we've seen that the directors are at least able to use their distinct visual styles. If the deal between Legendary and Toho wasn't the way it was, we could've had the big budget American films and the auteur-esque Toho films (like Shin Godzilla) going on at the same time.
Honda and Fukuda are easily number one and two on my list, respectively, but it's more difficult ranking the rest. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II is my favorite film, but none of Okawara's other efforts rank particularly high on my list, save for maybe Godzilla vs. Destoroyah. I'd probably give the second spot to Omori, since Godzilla vs. Biollante is one of my favorites and I also hold Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah in relatively high regard. Kaneko would also be up there if I count his work on the Gamera trilogy. Gamera 2 and 3 are two of the greatest kaiju eiga ever made in my opinion, and GMK is the standout film of the Millennium series as far as I'm concerned.
I'd have to say Motoyoshi Oda would be my least favorite Godzilla director (not counting Emmerich), simply by default. His only work on the series was Godzilla Raids Again, a film I've never particularly cared for. I'd like to get a chance to watch Invisible Man to get a better gauge for Oda's directing ability outside of Godzilla Raids Again. Masaaki Tezuka also unfortunately doesn't rank too highly on my list. Don't get me wrong, I really respect Tezuka and think there is a lot of merit to be found in his films, but none of his films particularly resonate with me, and Godzilla vs. Megaguirus is one of my least favorite entries in the series. I think Tezuka may have been a bit of a victim of Toho's assembly-line mentality that it employed for the Millennium series, so I don't really hold the quality of his films against him. I do think Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla is a legitimately good film and one of the better efforts of the Millennium series, and Tokyo S.O.S. has shades of greatness at some points.
As for uniqueness, I have to give it to Banno. Whatever you think of Godzilla vs. Hedorah, it is a very distinct and memorable film. Banno brought his documentary filmmaking experience to it, and it shows in the film's unique style. Anno would get an honorable mention from me in this respect too. Shin Godzilla is very clearly the product of his unique brand of creativity.
Who would I like to see make more? Obviously I'd love to see Kaneko get another shot at the series, but I'd also kind of be interested to see what Tezuka could have done with more time and potentially less studio control. Personally though, I'd like to see more directors who haven't worked on a Godzilla film yet get the chance to do their own unique take, much like Anno did.
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One of my top 5 favorite films is The Return Of Godzilla, so Hashimoto is a good one for me. I have not seen any other movie with him directing but I loved his style and approach to Godzilla. I would have loved to see more Godzilla movies directed by him.
Honda and Fukuda are also my favorite out of respect. Honda made a lot of my favorite Japanese sci-fi movies. His tones and style always bring it home for me. They are always exciting and fun to see. While Fukuda made great action movies. GvTSM and SOG are fun to watch and take a break from Godzilla smashing up cities. Instead he puts Godzilla in a different but familiar setting and lets the story have fun. When I watch SOG I love the way Kamacarus and Kumonga interact with the human actors. For his other films, Godzilla vs Gigan is my most favorite from Fukada. The fight scenes are so well choreographed. I could go on on that film.
Anno and Higuchi did a wonderful job on Shin Gojira making that one of my top 5 fav's.
Banno has the score for most creative and distinct G film
Emmerich and Edwards are my least favorite. I don't think Emmerich knows how to take a giant monster like Godzilla and really capture what makes him Godzilla. Don't get me wrong, the scenes with Godzilla entering Manhattan before actually seeing him are really crazy and thrilling. But the way they designed him along with trying to make old school G fans like the film because they wanted to use his original Japanese name Gojira was cheap and lazy way to get us to want to feel like this was a real Godzilla movie. It was fun but not a Godzilla movie to me.
I could go on about Edwards and his short comings on G14 but I don't want to bore you all. He really let me down with the monster action. For all the resources he had along with the right story and special FX, he fell short on what I feel a monster movie should be. His other films are very similar, they drive heavy with the character drama but when something actually happens to do something with the title of the film, he shy's away claiming he wants the monsters featured to keep having a great impact on the audience. But I feel its an excuse for him not to show the monsters because he runs out of ways to keep a monster interesting and fresh throughout the films. Hes not a great story teller and Godzilla director period. I thank him for giving the character new life but keep him at a distance.
I think Edwards knows how to shoot a gorgeous looking movie that's very atmospheric. Even though it comes up short of expectation, it looks different than most Hollywood blockbusters--Even if it's pretty obvious in his post-Rogue One career that he doesn't have the talent to flesh out an ensemble.
And agreed about Hashimoto! The atmosphere alone is what makes Return of Godzilla stand out so well. I wish the rest of the Heisei films continued with the visceral feel that the two 80s films had.
I wish that as well. I feel like the Heisei series would have stood up more against the Gamera Films of the 90's if the 80's Godzilla movies stayed with that similar chemistry.
^I agree completely. Many fans tend to praise the Heisei Godzilla movies for their continuity, but that's also largely their biggest weakness since it was merely cherry picked.
What was the budget of the 2 different Heisei series? How much was the Gamera Budget compared to the Godzilla? Im sure to be shocked. I read somewhere the director for the Gamera movies wanted to direct the Godzilla movies in the 90's but Toho said no-go. Im sure they learned their lesson afterwards, since they wanted him to direct GMK.
By the time the Heisei Gamera trilogy was put in production the Heisei Godzilla movies were averaging just over $10 million per movie. The first Gamera film cost $4.5 million. The budget increased a little bit per movie since they were so successful, but the highest was Gamera 3 in 1999, which cost about $7 million. For comparison, Godzilla 2000 cost $12 million in 1999.
And you're correct that Shusuke Kaneko was turned down in the 1990s. I go into greater detail with that in the GMK chapter of my Millennium series retrospective. Take a gander:
Before Shin Godzilla - Retrospect of the Last Era, Part 3: Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah
Ah-ha! That's great. One of these days ill hafta go back to older forums and see any of these articles to keep up with the rest of everybody. Upon reading your article I came across this excert , “At Toho, we can only afford a short time for getting ready and for post production. Toho has their own theaters, so they want to release movies around New Years every year. That deadline is immovable.” I always wondered why Godzilla movies always seemed to come out around December. Especially in the 90's.
That great to know. Thank you.
Getting slightly off topic (though these articles do tend to shed light on the directors' intentions), we're trying to pull together a resource section for articles like that to be easily accessed. But for your benefit, and to shamelessly toot my own horn, here's the stuff I'd recommend you look at:
When Roses Attack: 25 Years of Godzilla vs. Biollante with Ed Godziszewski
^!!! Well I know what Im reading instead of working today. thank you very much.
May your horn toot away sir.
And now I can add Big-Ben's article to the resources. Some of what's said about Anno is fascinating from Yoko's perspective:
Dreams Come True: My interview with Yoko Higuchi on Shin Godzilla
My Twitter response stays the same. Lol.
Favorite is Honda. Duh.
Most unique are Shusuke Kaneko and Hideaki Anno.
Who's next? Besides Dougherty and Wingard, I'd be extremely satisfied to see Takashi Yamazaki give it a go. This guy has won a lot of awards for best director and best screenplay along with other awards.
Honda takes top because of his storytelling. Mainly because he witnessed first hand what the true horrors of the atomic bomb are capable of and, besides that, he knows how to direct his characters for the film's he's worked on.
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