Tuesday, October 2, 2012
GODZILLA ON MY MIND: FIFTY YEARS OF THE KING OF MONSTERS
Full disclosure: Although I am a big giant monster movie fan and even wrote a book on the subject, I confess I have never been that carried away with Godzilla and its many sequels, although I do check them out from time to time. Tsutsui is right that the original Japanese version, entitled Gojira, is essentially a "serious" film with sombre undertones, and by no means a bad movie. But while it may not have those undertones, I much prefer the American film The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, the success of which inspired Japanese filmmakers to make Gojira in the first place. [I even prefer The Giant Behemoth and Gorgo, which was sort of an imitation of Godzilla, over Gojira.] That being said, I approached an entire volume devoted to Godzilla with some trepidation. An entire book on Godzilla? Still, Tsutsui almost manages to pull it off, despite the fact that eventually he makes the same points over and over and the book at times seems understandably padded. [A good way to increase the page count would have been to include a filmography, but inexplicably this book doesn't have one, a serious oversight.] Still, Tsutsui writes well and intelligently and his enthusiasm for his subject is a large part of the book's appeal. True, Tsutsui sometimes tries too hard to convince us of Godzilla's influence and significance -- I mean just because something is "influential" doesn't make it especially significant -- and he doesn't seem to acknowledge that there are any other decent giant monster movies out there. His argument that the American-made Godzilla with Matthew Broderick [a disappointing film in many ways] trashed the legend seems to ignore the fact that Japanese filmmakers did a pretty good job of turning Godzilla into a camp parody long before director Roland Emmerich came along. But at least the author acknowledges that many of the Japanese Godzilla movies are quite dreadful, which stirred up the wrath of major demented Godzilla geekazoids in their reviews on Amazon.com. [Get a life! It's also kind of depressing that there are actually people who will go to a Godzilla convention but have never attended the ballet, opera, a classical music concert, or serious theater. Monster movies are fun, but they're not the be-all and end-all!] But when all is said and done, this is an entertaining book and not as stupid as you might expect.
Verdict: Recommended for the more intelligent Godzilla fans, all two or three of them, LOL. ***.