I promise there will be no spoilers for the Gareth Edwards’ movie Godzilla, out in theaters.
Tuesday, my daughter and I caught a showing of Godzilla, directed by Gareth Edwards.
My girl surprised me by wanting to see the movie, and I’m certainly not going to let the opportunity to see a Sci Fi genre flick pass by. Afterwards, I asked her if I should write a blog post about it.
Me: Hey, should I write a blog post on the movie?
Me: What should my angle be?
Her: Just talk about the plot, but no spoilers.
I guess I could do that… but I’m not going to. I think I’m still trying to sort out my opinion on the movie, and I think if I start talking too much about it, it’ll just end up being me bashing on Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla movie (and then defending it like this.)
Instead I’ll talk about the greatest Godzilla movie ever made (as adjudicated by Pat Sponaugle, self-appointed expert on Kaiju movies) 1991’s excellent Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah.
Spoiler Alert: I’ll be talking very specific plot points for GvKG, but the plot is so crazy (and it’s been so long since I’ve seen the movie – I guarantee that I’ll get things wrong) anything I say might not diminish your enjoyment.
Your call, of course.
Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah
- 1991: A UFO shows up in Japan. It turns out to be a time-traveling ship (from the future, yo.)
- The Futuremen warn that soon, Godzilla is going to trash Japan (currently enjoying an economic boom) from which it will never recover. But the Futuremen have a plan.
- The goal is to go further back in time to the site of the nuclear test that created Godzilla, from a T-Rex that had been living on Ragos Island. A handful of contemporary Japanese had experience with this particular dinosaur (which had saved a squad of Japanese soldiers during WWII from American Marine forces.)
- The Futuremen and a small team of contemporary Japanese (including, if I recall correctly, members of the Elite Godzilla Team or something along those lines) venture back in time to Ragos Island.
- The pre-Godzilla dinosaur is teleported to the Bering Strait where it will chill out, not be radiated, and not turned into Godzilla.
- The Futuremen also bring along these three adorable bat-critters. I forget the name. Awwww, they’re so cute. (The little critters get left behind on Ragos Island. Which is about to be nuked. Oops.)
- The Futuremen return to the present, drop off the contemporary team, and go “Whoa, look at the time. We totally have that thing we have to be doing right now, super important. You know, that thing.” And zip away.
- Thanks Futuremen, for saving Japan from Godzilla!
- WHOA! Japan is currently being wrecked by King Ghidorah!
- It turns out that the three little critters left behind on Ragos Island, and nuked, turned into Ghidorah!
- The Futuremen had planned all along on creating a Japan-destroying monster that they could control. The fiends. Apparently, Japan’s economic super-powerhouse continues well into the future, and jealous nations secretly put together a time-travel project to cripple Japan in the past.
(If I recall correctly, most of this information came from the attractive Futuremen crewmember who defects to join the contemporary Japanese team. She ends up reprogramming the T-800 style Futuremen android (who kind of looks like Christopher Meloni – at least in my memory. Apologies (and condolences) to actor Robert Scott Field if he does not actually resemble Meloni.)
- Desperate times call for desperate actions. It’s time to recreate Godzilla.
- The WWII Soldier/Dinosaur Witness/Super-Businessman admits that he has a Nuclear Submarine (for defense purposes) and offers to use it to nuke the frozen dinosaur into a new Godzilla. Team Godzilla approves.
- The secret war-machine speeds up from Japanese waters, heading to the Bering Straits.
- Ghidorah continues to blow stuff up.
- As the sub heads north, sonar starts picking a really large something swimming south. It’s Godzilla. They collide.
- Godzilla? Shouldn’t it be frozen in the Bering Strait? Well, Team Godzilla checks the news and coincidentally, the Russians had had a nuclear accident of some sort up there. Oops. They’d pre-created Godzilla already. And this Godzilla, swimming to Japan, had just gotten a second dose of big radiation from the ruined sub.
- The Godzilla that makes landfall at Japan is even bigger than the Godzilla that Team Godzilla was used to.
- Godzilla and King Ghidora fight.
- Godzilla rips off one of Ghidora’s heads, and hurls the dead body into the Sea of Japan.
- Then, Godzilla starts wreaking havoc. Just as bad as Ghidorah.
- The reformed Futuremen crewmember has a plan, with the help of the reprogrammed T-800 (okay, it was Android M-11 in the movie) she captures the time-ship, and heads to the future.
- She alerts the Future Japanese, who are understandably very concerned that their history is being messed with in the past. They come up with a plan.
- In the contemporary time period, Godzilla continues to rampage. There’s an emotional moment between the old Japanese businessman and Godzilla. (I’m being serious. It’s awesome, actually.)
- Then, from the future… MECHA-GHIDORAH shows up! The Future Japanese have fished out the preserved corpse of Ghidorah, built a Stark Industries chest piece, mechanical wings, and a replacement robot head. This Kaiju-cyborg is piloted by our friend from the future.
- They fight! It’s great!
- Eventually, Mecha-Ghidorah grapples Super-Godzilla into an unbreakable hug, and both kaiju land in the Sea of Japan (with the pilot ejecting), where Godzilla can remain trapped underwater. Forever! (Or until the next movie.)
I guarantee that I have details wrong, I am literally summarizing a movie I last watched in ~1994. So, if my breathtaking recap hasn’t convinced you to rush to the Internet and find this movie, you should do so just to find what errors I made and mock me. I don’t care what it takes, everyone should see this movie. Because it’s my favorite Godzilla movie.
Okay, I should really talk a little bit about the recent Godzilla movie and it’s unavoidable to bring up the Emmerich movie. To make things simple, I’ll refer to the three Godzilla movies as Godzilla 1991, Godzilla 1998, and Godzilla 2014.
I guess I should say that there might be super-light spoilers for Godzilla 2014.
Godzilla 1991 isn’t a great movie. The plot’s crazy, time travel is bonkers, but it’s super-fun. The kaiju do what they’re supposed to do, blow stuff up, fight, etc. The involvement of the humans, from the nefarious Futuremen, to the contemporary Godzilla Team, to the WWII vets who knew Godzilla as their savior is all organic and understandable.
Godzilla 1998 (which I often refer to as Notzilla) was kind of a fun movie. It just was in no way a Godzilla movie. Because you have to have GODZILLA in the movie, and not some lame big-lizard imposter. I know I’m treading well-established ground here.
I really wanted to love Godzilla 2014, and in some ways I do. The monster aspect was brilliantly done, and I liked how we’d sometimes see action, and sometimes it would be communicated as news reports. I’m fine with that. I’d be bored by a super-long extended fight sequence after awhile. The problem with the movie (and again, this is not breaking news) is that the focus on our observer, Ford Brody the bomb-defuser was just not compelling. I think I’d have been happy if his role had been confined largely to the action at the end of the movie, and some of his other scenes been handed off to the other actors.
Let Ken Watanabe discover that Bryan Cranston, the former engineer at the nuclear plant had been relentlessly pursuing getting into the quarantine zone, and bring him in.
Have one of the soldiers Brody hitches a hop with from Hawaii to the mainland actually be a point of view character.
Having one person, pulled here and there by coincidence and chance, just waters down the narrative. I’d prefer if Brody had just stayed in San Francisco.
I would be super-willing to see a sequel to Godzilla 2014 though. I think the groundwork has been well laid with the explanation of the kaijus origins, Godzilla’s natural instinct to Fight Those Kaiju, the Monarch Organization who more or less is the Godzilla Team, etc.
What we need now, are some villains. Kaiju aren’t villains, they’re natural disasters. We need ruthless criminals who either plan on unleashing kaiju for their own purposes, or try to take advantage of the chaos during a kaiju attack.
It’s what made Godzilla 1991 fun, and it worked in other Godzilla movies I’ve enjoyed, like Godzilla vs. Megalon and Godzilla vs. Mothra. (Please return the Egg!)
So, next Godzilla movie. At a minimum I need three things:
- Something for Godzilla to fight.
- And a villain for me to hate.
Images from Godzilla (2014) and Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah. I make no claims to the images, but some claims to the text here. So there. © Patrick Sponaugle 2014 Some Rights Reserved