So with the new Godzilla out, we must ask: is this a good introduction to the series? Are there ridiculous human plots in it? How much monster fighting do we get? This is my guide for fans of the franchise – and hopefully this will encourage new fans into an amazing socio-ecological series that has just as much absurdity as it does horror, and many tear-jerking plots that leave you thinking long after the movies are over.
Before we get too far into the plot, let’s discuss Godzilla’s shaky history with US cinema and why this movie had a lot to live up to. While Godzilla vs King Kong came first, it was mostly produced by Toho studios. So, we will begin with 1998 when Godzilla graced the screens of many American cinemas. As anyone who’s seen it will tell you, it was bad. So bad, in fact, that Toho bought the rights to it and renamed it Zilla ‘because it took the God out of Godzilla’ and then killed it in 30 seconds during Godzilla Final Wars. After this fiasco, Toho refused to let another American adaptation happen until 2014 when Toho worked with the creators of Godzilla to make sure the project was treated with respect. It worked. While the humans weren’t that great and the fight scenes got cut a lot, it managed to bring the fear of Godzilla back, while even referencing the 1954 films horror based anti-nuclear style of storytelling. It manages to invoke the absolute terror being on the ground near these monsters would be.
After the release of Kong Skull Island (which is in the same universe), they returned their focus to Godzilla which brings us to today. Yes, it is a good introduction, you don’t need to see either of the previous films to understand it, and it really does do a good job of replicating the awe and themes of the original Toho series. But Director Micheal Dougherty changed the design; wanting “to put the God back into Godzilla” and focused on making several parallels between this universes Godzilla and Toho’s. This included adding the 1954’s design of dorsal fins as making them bigger and more of them. The writers, director, and crew manage to relay to audiences that Godzilla very much is the wrath of nature, without relying on his hatred of humans like the Toho films do. This was made by fans and it shows. The love in every scene and the details make this a very good introduction while the sheer plethora of easter eggs also make the film enjoyable for long time fans.
So now onto the human plot, I’m sorry Pacific Rim fans but Godzilla has always co-starred with humans and they had most of the plot around them, save the kids films that were popular during the Japans Hesei era. Since the films always focused on butterfly effects from human activities cause a lot of the problems it was refreshing to see a well written and acted human plot that didn’t make them take from the plot, or seem boring. The main Cast are Dr Mark Russel played by Kyle Chandler of Friday Night Lights and Zero Dark Thirty, Dr Emma Russel played by Vera Farmiga of Skin, and Annabel fame. Playing their daughter Madison Russel is Millie Bobby Brown better known for her Role as Eleven from Stranger Things, and playing the military leader of Monarch Colonel Diane Foster is Aisha Hinds True blood, and Runaway Island fame. The latter two steal the film each scene their in is so well acted it makes them utterly enjoyable. The plot without getting two heavy into spoilers is about Dr Emma Russel and her daughter Madison being abducted and used to set all the other monsters free. Monarch being very similar to Toho’s EDF or Earth Defense Force actually are useful against monsters using diversion strategies and hit and run tactics in place of the super scifi Masers that Toho uses.
To the final question however, of just how much monster fighting we get to see – we get more than enough, and each fight done unique enough that you never get tired of it, plus the pacing and stellar acting means you don’t get bored of either side of the plot human or monster. If you are the least bit curious about the film go check it out, whether just getting into it or an old school fan, there is plenty for everyone.