Godzilla vs. Kong is not just some movie. It’s an event! It has history! One of the first movies that I ever watched on the big screen was the 1998 Godzilla and things were never the same for me as it began my ongoing obsession with Kaijus (The term kaiju can refer to the giant monsters themselves, which are usually depicted attacking major cities and engaging the military, or other kaiju, in battle). I have watched every single one of the films in Legendary’s Monsterverse on the big screen and I am more than excited to do the same for the latest entry in that list. But before doing so, I think it’s customary to watch what has come before it so that we can appreciate the present and look forward to a glorious future full of giant monsters.
The Shōwa Era, the Heisei Era, the Millennium Era, and the Reiwa Era have been covered (You’ll find the links to them at the bottom of this article). This means we are done with Japan. And now, it’s time to deal with Hollywood’s take on the Titan. Two things that you should know. Firstly, the Japanese hate the 1998 Godzilla, and secondly, Toho was contractually obligated to not make a live-action Godzilla movie post-Shin Godzilla until 2020 so that there weren’t any clashes with the Monsterverse movies. Cool? Let’s commence.
1. Godzilla (1998, dir. Roland Emmerich) – I am nostalgic about this movie, alright? It was one of my first theatrical experiences. Probably my first. So, you get it why it holds a special place in my heart? I loved it back then. I think I watched it countless times till 2005. Then it dropped off of my radar. Yes, I picked it up after over 15 years for this recap and I do get the hate. But I vehemently disagree with some of the critiques. First and foremost, the production design in this movie is mind-blowing. It’s clear that they created physical models for some of the close-up scenes and a lot of those Baby Godzillas were life-sized models. Talking about Baby Godzillas, the hatching scene still creeps the shit out of me. For its time, the VFX is pretty darn perfect. It’s only when the skin and the bones stop matching the movement of Godzilla is where things get shitty. The romantic angle is wack. The acting is great. Emmerich is a master of explosions. Hence, that’s great. Godzilla’s design is a nope. Overall, it’s an okay movie.
2. Godzilla (2014, dir. Gareth Edwards) – We did this movie dirty. We should collectively apologise to Mr. Edwards for hating on this movie. Because it’s a brilliant movie. Everything from the creature designs to the themes, the score, the cinematography, the human story, the fight sequences, the production design, the acting (This movie has *checks notes* Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins, David Strathairn, and Bryan Cranston), the editing, the CGI, everything is perfection. You have to understand something here. This is the first time Hollywood was taking on Godzilla since 1998. It was a make-it-or-break-it situation for them. If they f*cked this up, it was “Bye-bye, Godzilla”. So, it’s totally understandable why they went for atmospheric horror instead of an all-out action extravaganza. Edwards knows how to create moments and he beautifully builds up to them and then pays it off like a boss. That halo jump sequence! Oh! That plane hangar bit! Oh! Godzilla charging up through the smog! Oh! Love it! Love it! They hold a special place in my heart and I highly recommend giving it a rewatch if you dissed it for “not having enough Godzilla”.
3. Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019, dir. Michael Dougherty) – Remember what I said earlier? Godzilla was an act of redemption so that they can do the crazy stuff after that. Yeah, Dougherty goes full fanboy for this. It’s like he’s playing with his favourite toys on a playground except the playground is a multi-million dollar movie set and we are getting to watch it. This movie has so much momentum and it only keeps increasing after starting. It’s one of those movies which if you catch a glimpse of, you cannot stop yourself from watching it to the end. Charles Dance playing an environmentalist and a hater of humankind and deciding to end humanity by unleashing all the Titans is just perfect. The score. Holy shit! I mean, every technical aspect of this movie is brilliant. But the score! Bear McCreary really outdid himself for this. I listen to that Godzilla song all the time and even when it isn’t actually playing, it’s playing in my head. The few problems that I have with this movie are the plot armour and Millie Bobby Brown’s role. Apart from that, I really, really love this movie. I have watched it thrice in the past few weeks.
And we are done with Godzilla’s part of the Godzilla vs. Kong journey (Yes, I’ll be covering King Kong’s wonky road. Don’t worry)! I think learning about the history of a particular character is very important. Especially when it is a character that has been in pop culture discourse since 1954. Then and only then you can truly understand who is repurposing someone like Godzilla for fun and who is doing it out of pure love (The fun that comes from love hits different and you can always tell the difference). I have a huge amount of respect from King of the Monsters now than I had when I first watched it because of how much it pays homage to the first Godzilla movie. In case you’re lukewarm about it, I’d highly recommend doing a recap of Godzilla’s best ventures, and even you’ll see what I am seeing. I cannot wait to watch Adam Wingard’s take on the not-so-benevolent God.
Cover artwork by Bhavya Poonia/Mashable India