The joy of Godzilla

A ranking of the Godzilla movies made me curious about how many of the big guy’s films I actually own. It turns out I have 17 of the 33 flicks on DVD or Blu-Ray here, not far from the shores of Green Bay.

I’m in the process of making it 19, because as soon as I saw that I don’t have Matthew Chernov’s #2 movie — Godzilla vs. Destoroyah — I made arrangements for Amazon to deliver it Tuesday — and it comes with a second film that’s lower on the list.

The list got my attention in part because, duh, Godzilla, but also because Chernov highly rates the original film, Gojira (1954), and Shin-Godzilla, the outstanding 2016 film that shows a series of incompetent government officials making hilariously wrong decisions about how to cope with the growing kaiju problem approaching Tokyo.

If I were to do my own rankings, I would have a tough decision about which has been the second-best Godzilla movie, between Shin-Godzilla and the 2014 American film Godzilla, and there’s my main beef with Chernov’s list. He doesn’t share my love for Gareth Edwards’ film at all, placing it way down at #22.

I thought it was the best depiction of Godzilla since the beginning. I love that suspense builds for nearly an hour before we finally see the monster in all his ferocious glory; that seems to be the part that Chernov hates most. I literally (yes, I literally mean literally as in this actually happened exactly as described) giggled with delight when the big reveal came, so brilliantly had the film built to that moment.

Truth be known, most Godzilla movies are disappointing to me in the wake of the original. I grew up watching the American version with its cleverly-inserted scenes featuring American reporter Steve Martin (!), played by Raymond Burr, and I thought it was great fun, but when I saw the original Japanese cut — many of the same scenes in a different order — I was awestruck. It’s compelling science fiction with a powerful anti-war, anti-nuclear-bomb message.

I liked Marvel Comics as a kid because I loved the characters and the soap opera of their interaction. I tended to get bored by extended fist fights. (Hulk vs. Thing again? Ho-hum.) I’m weird that way.

So you can imagine my mixed feelings about the Godzilla movies, which often feature very very long battles between gigantic creatures. Except for the three I mentioned, there’s not a whole lot of character development in these things.

But I keep coming back, because they all hearken to the original fun of seeing humanity cope with a huge force of nature that knocks down buildings and breathes fire. Godzilla is indeed the king of the monsters and, for whatever reason, I’m pleased that I own more than half of his movies to slide into the disc player whenever the mood strikes.

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