Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Another Hollywood remake of "Godzilla" stomping our way? Good idea or bad?

by Chris MaGee

Yesterday word spread like wildfire online about how Burbank, California-based production company Legendary Pictures has bought the rights from Toho to produce a new U.S. remake (reboot, re-imagining, what have you) of "Godzilla". Toho "retired" the king of all kaiju monsters after Ryuhei Kitamura's 2004 film "Godzilla: Final Wars" (above), but now it looks as if this new remake will continue the franchise. This news has almost immediately divided folks into the "for" and "against" camps, but I thought I'd try and weigh in with a an opinion that falls somewhere in the middle.

It's always hard for me to divorce Godzilla the character from the monster that appeared in Ishiro Honda's brilliant 1954 original "Gojira". Despite the obvious limitations of the special effects in Japan circa '54 "Gojira" is not only entertaining but a massive piece of cinema catharsis that only two years after the U.S. Occupation finally allowed the Japanese to work through the horrors they had experienced during WW2, albeit through the use of science fiction metaphor. Godzilla as A-bomb was an ingenious creation, but as the franchise continued at Toho this initial post-war message quickly gave way to sheer entertainment and eventually sheer kitsch.

It was the fact that for many, many years Toho's intention was to simply get ticket buyers into movie theatres and wow them with giant monster fights that made the 1998 Roland Emmerich Hollowood remake of "Godzilla" (at least for me) a little more palatable. Not that it was a good film, far from it, but it had been 44-years since the character of Godzilla had done anything but simply entertain with his marauding adventures.

So, now we are looking at another Hollywood remake (reboot, re-imagining) of this classic character, but is this a good thing? Frankly, with the state of mainstream Japanese films in the past few years, I wouldn't have been that happy had I heard it was Toho themselves who were bringing Godzilla back to the big screen. With Legendary Pictures being the folks behind the about to be released "Clash of the Titans" remake we can at least expect above average CGI effects in this new "Godzilla"... Hell, it may even be in 3D. The problem I have is this whole "remake" thing.

In the past few months James Cameron's "Avatar" showed major studios that an original story can be married up with cutting edge special effects to create a huge money-maker at the box office. Okay, let me clarify - an "original" story that's not a remake, reboot, etc. of a tried and true film or franchise. Yes, I am aware of the similarities between "Avatar" and "Dances with Wolves". Nothing that new under the sun I guess. Still, "Avatar" wasn't a remake, and I'd hope on some level that its success would "reboot" Hollywood creativity and get their writers creating new story ideas as opposed to giving "Godzilla" yet another CGI make over.

In the end I think that despite the characters noble origins Godzilla is meant to entertain. If it's the Japanese or the Americans who want to entertain us with him, then so be it. I just wish someone would finally start telling us new stories.

Nod to Twitch for being one of tyhe first to jump on this news.

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