Hail to the King: A review of the entire Godzilla franchise Final Part
ATTENTION: I wrote this just before Shin Godzilla was released in theaters. Rather than rewriting it all, I have included updates to most of the films on this list. I wanted to preserve my thought process from when I wrote this while still being up-to-date on the films talked about here.
This will be the final article in my series covering Godzilla. I will be talking about the 2014 Legendary film Godzilla, the newest Japanese film, Shin Godzilla, and beyond. This is a most interesting time to be a fan as this is a brand new era, no one knows what to expect or even what to call this new series of films, American and Japanese alike. I will also be discussing confirmed upcoming films in the franchise as well as a few other projects that I feel deserve special mention.
Godzilla (2014): When it was announced around 2010ish that there was a brand new American produced Godzilla film inbound, I was filled with excitement as well as trepidation at the prospect. With the 1998 film, it was clear that a lot was lost in translation between the Eastern and Western markets. Putting it simply, Godzilla (2014) was very divisive among fans. I however really enjoyed the movie, clearly there was a lot of problems with pacing and characterization, but it got it right where it counted, Godzilla. The time we do see The King of the Monsters, it was awe inspiring. It successfully transported Godzilla to an Eastern audience and I’m very excited to see what sequels will bring.
Shin Godzilla: At the time of writing, I’ve just gotten out of the movie theatre. My opinion might be a bit skewed, but I think it was a masterpiece. Literally, this is the best film I’ve seen all year. I had a lot different expectations for the movie, and nearly all of them were met. It’s a harsh criticism of the Japanese bureaucracy, U.S. intervention into international affairs, and the use of nuclear energy rolled up into a monster movie. All of these elements work nearly seamlessly together in a true reboot for the most legendary creature ever put on screen. Like the original, this movie takes into account the collective experience of the Japanese and fulfills the fears and anxieties of its people into this films character. This is also the first true reboot for the Japanese series, ignoring the original film for the first time. I won’t go into spoilers at this time since the movie just came out, but it is simple to say that the scenes with Godzilla are simply some of the best creature effects ever put to screen. If there was ever a movie to get people interested into Godzilla, this is the one. An absolute treasure for fans and casual audiences alike. Go see, rent, or buy this movie ASAP.
UPDATE: I still really enjoy this movie. I may have been a bit too glowing in these initial thoughts, but it's still fairly accurate. The U.S. home release sucks though.
Untitled Film 2017: It was announced recently that TOHO would be producing the first animated entry into the franchise set to release next year. No details about what the plot will be except a single promotional image. It is unclear if this movie will be related to Shin Godzilla, but I’m willing to place my bet on it not being a sequel. Also why choose to make an animated film 60 years into the franchise? My thinking is that since Shin Godzilla took two years to produce, twice as long as it did in the past and TOHO wanting to maintain the annual production of Godzilla movies, they’ve chosen a biannual route. One year, have a big budget live action movie, then the next have an animated feature to allow for the next live action film to have proper time to be developed. This however is just my theory.
UPDATE: Godzilla: Monster Planet is due out in Japan November 17, 2017. We know that this film is the first in a trilogy planned to be released over the next year, so to hell with my idea. I'm incredibly excited to see this film and I can't wait to see where this first foray into animation takes the franchise.
Godzilla 2 (2019): The sequel to the American reboot is set to come out 2019. The only things known about the movie is that Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah are planned to be in the film. Now this could change at any time since there is so much time between then and now. The director of the first film, Gareth Edwards, has left the project and no new director has been named yet, causing this movie to be pushed back from its original 2018 release date.
UPDATE: Godzilla: King of the Monsters is due March 22, 2019. I'm really excited for this, even though my enthusiasm for the 2014 film has subsided. I really enjoyed Kong: Skull Island, and I hope the movie takes some inspiration from it.
Godzilla vs. Kong (2020): This has got me excited to the highest level. When Legendary studios announced that they were making a King Kong movie, my brain blasted inside my head telling me that this could happen. But Godzilla was being distributed by Warner Bros. and Kong by Universal, so it wasn’t going to happen. Then Legendary switched the distributor for Kong to Warner Bros. I told myself it was a coincidence, it couldn’t happen. Then I learned that dreams do come true. The only problem is that since Godzilla 2 got pushed back, it’s more than likely that this will be pushed back as well.
UPDATE: It hasn't been pushed back yet.
Legendary Beast Wolfman vs. Godzilla: Now this is a fan film developed by employees of TOHO during the 80’s. Since it was developed by employees who are familiar with the techniques, this movie is actually pretty legit. It started as an urban myth on the internet of a single image that showed Godzilla battling a white wolf. Then rumors said it was just a few seconds of black and white footage. Then it was several minutes long and in color. Then finally someone found the director of it, who revealed that it was a feature length film that he’d been slowly editing over the past few decades. Since he did not get permission to make this film, TOHO forbid him from releasing any footage for the film. Then slowly he was granted permission to show of clips on his Facebook page and at conventions. Last I heard, he was very close to completing the film and TOHO was considering allowing a limited DVD release. https://youtu.be/ipkcS0yi1Ok Here’s a short clip released for the film.
UPDATE: Still waiting for the director to make a release date. He's slowly been giving us nuggets of the film and each are great to see. In this age where all Godzilla movies seem to be CGI now, it'd be a real treat to see a "new" old-fashioned tokusatsu Godzilla movie.
Godzilla: Heritage: A group of young filmmakers based in New York I believe want to make a Godzilla movie. They plan to fund this project through crowd-funding methods, but have been unsuccessful thus far. I really want to show my support for these guys as they are really serious about this project. If you want to check out the teaser trailer for the film I’ll include it here. If you want to support amateur filmmakers who are working on a passion project, then I’d really recommend keeping an eye on these fellas.
UPDATE: Toho all but forbid this from being made. They were in their legal right, it's just a shame that it got the boot. The filmmakers showed true passion for the franchise.
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