Godzilla vs. Hollywood: Why The Latest King of the Monsters Resurrection Will Fail

If anyone wants this film to be both a critical and financial success it’s me. Godzilla sparked my love of film. But regardless of my most optimistic hopes and all this rushing good news that keeps being presented (Frank Darabont rewriting the script, the word rewrite is always a bad sign), to me it’s all as disposable as a used tissue. I don’t believe that anyone in Hollywood today has the ability to make a great Godzilla film (except perhaps Quentin Tarantino, cause he’s the man), but please Hollywood, prove me wrong. Following I’ve let my inner cynic take the keys to type up some reasons why Hollywood isn’t cut out to take Big G out of retirement just yet.

3. It’s Been Attempted Before… and Failed


Back in 98, Columbia and Tristar Pictures were distributing those over seas Kaiju films from Toho Studios. I’m not sure exactly what compelled them to give the genre a shot themselves, but they went ahead and did it anyways. They were jumping without a chute from the get go. What resulted was a messy monster film that had a giant iguana parading around Tokyo dubbed as Godzilla. In all honesty it’s more reminiscent of the last 25 minutes of The Lost World, or Ray Harryhausen’s The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (which is even referenced in the movie). Toho Studies themselves bastardized the film, stating that “Godzilla” was too concerned about laying eggs rather than rampaging through the city. The studio even chastised the monsters name, dubbing him Zilla. In the film Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters all Out Attack, 2 Japanese soldiers make reference to a monster attacking New York, one of them brushing the comment off confidently assuring it wasn’t Godzilla. In the last Godzilla film, Godzilla Final Wars, the titular monster and his American rival battle it out in front of the Sydney Opera House while Sum 41’s “We’re All To Blame” plays in the background. It’s the greatest cinematic moment since the climax of The Good the Bad and the Ugly.

While Godzilla made more than enough of it’s budget back, I highly doubt it resulted from the reviews or word of mouth. It was likely due to its borderline brilliant marketing campaign. Godzilla was one of the first films to take advantage of merchandising and what I like to call creative marketing. Back in 98 Godzilla was everywhere, on your television, on the computer, in the magazines you read, and in your Taco Bell. All images of the partially exposed monster (an extreme close up of his reptilian green cornea, or a gargantuan foot smashing something we know to be large), all sported the tag line “Size Does Matter”. A teaser trailer consisting of a museum tour guide accenting the size and ferocity of a T-Rex to some bored school children, is interrupted by Godzilla’s massive foot smashing the skeleton of the dinosaur. Godzilla had one of the greatest ad campaigns ever. 2014’s Godzilla is no different. The comic con teaser poster and trailer are such sought after glimpses of what’s done on the film so far, that fan boys have already created full mock paintings of what the King of the Monsters will look like based upon a cell phone image of the beasts silhouette.

The Earth shakes as company credits play through a dirty filter, black and white archival footage of a city in ruins and flame flicker while the infamous speech of Robert Oppenheimer plays in the background. As the dialogue closes, the image of a vague Gojira appears, he lets out his trademark roar and the titles fade in. Just imagining these things weaved together is enough to give anyone the hebbie jebbies, but I fear that they’re at it again. When a trailer is put out before a film is even shot, or for that matter even written, I worry. Especially when the trailer is this good. They don’t even know the tone of the film yet, though I’ll gladly soak in the success of the trailer.

2. Gareth Edwards


Who am I to criticize the hard work of another human being? Well I’m Brandon Somma and the wonderful thing about being human is having an opinion. How this guy landed the gig I’ll never know, well I do know, I just don’t understand the thought process on tossing him the project. Mr Edwards has directed only one other feature film, Monsters. We’ll return to that subject in a moment. The dude got his start doing digital effects for low budget productions. He’s got about 8 or 9 effects gigs to his name. His labor of love Monsters was a poor film to begin with. It gained all this recognition because of it’s incredibly low budget and because it looks like a much more expensive film than it actually is, I believe the budget was around $800,000. But the key word there is *looks*, it looks really good. In actuality I find it poorly acted and sloppily written. There is no substance beneath it’s pretty images other than a very obvious and tiring metaphor.

I’m jumping the gun a little bit, this is Gareth Edwards first film, and lots of great directors had awful debuts; James Cameron with Piranha 2: The Spawning, and David Fincher with Alien 3, though Cameron was fired off the set halfway through production, and the latter is up for debate. But in those films were slivers of genius, slivers of genius that made those guys the filmmakers they are today. When I watch Monsters I see pretty sunsets and goofy creature designs. I suppose Edwards believes he can do the series justice because he is a life long fan. While that’s great optimistic thinking and all, just because I’m a guitarist and love Led Zepplin doesn’t mean I can play on their next album. There has to be something more than just chemistry between the art and artist. It has to be your story to tell.

1. Hollywood & America


The original 1954 Gojira is a wonderful film, both a commercial pleasure and a literary satisfaction. In a country ravaged by war and the first hand atrocities of the atomic bomb, artists dealt with their fringed emotions the only way they could. Ishiro Honda expressed both his rage and deep horror with the birthing of a monstrous radioactive beast. The fear and total destruction in Tokyo witnessed in this film could only stem from someone who truly felt the impact of that disaster of Hiroshima. Hollywood and America has had no disaster on the scale of a mass slaughtering that took lives in an instant. While Gareth Edwards may have his own inspirations for the film, and perhaps tragic inspiration, I can assure you it is not on the scale of Hiroshima. The reason that Godzilla is such a powerful and lasting film, is that out of one of Japan’s darkest depths of despair, they reached down into that abyss and found release through expression. Godzilla is Japan’s monster, any attempt to adopt the creature, or borrow his name would nearly be an insult. Possibly the only good thing coming out of this would be that Toho would get more money to make more Godzilla films. He’s a reminder of the horror, grief, and tragedy that the country felt. Japan, now a very proud nation, saw a new Godzilla film pop up every couple of years. One could say the constant output from Toho Studios is due to a decent return from the films. Truth is, these Kaiju films flopped in their home country. Ishiro Honda and successors kept the reminder of WWII in the mind of the public. When they look at Godzilla, they don’t see a radioactive dinosaur, or a man in a giant rubber suit, but a warhead with a pulse.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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  1. Brianzilla2004

    Gareth Edwards is the only good point here, because as the director he (in theory) has a lot of control over the movie. Pointing to one example of Hollywood failing to do the series justice and then making an assumption that nobody in Hollywood–no, AMERICA–is capable of producing a good Godzilla movie is pretty pathetic stuff.

    I’m not even expecting anything from the upcoming Godzilla movie myself. I see a lot of problems and I have no faith that this troubled development will be able to pull anything off successfully. But two of the three top reasons you base this article on border on idiotic.

    • Brandon Somma

      You’re right Brianzilla2004, I am idiotic…

    • AnnaLar

      Fan boy? 🙂 We all are – just some with an interest to discuss the outcome of this production. I’m going to turn the table and defend Gareth Edwards for taking the director seat. Monsters had a lot of ambition in it, we can’t deny that. Maybe if gets the tools he need, he could create something special. That is, if he will improve his directing skills, specifically his approach with the actors.

  2. Let me point this out real quick. ”Batman an Robin” to me the franchise was dead.. Nothing to recover the damage done but that homosexual toy commercial.

    But along came Batman Begins, which i ignored mostly due to B&R an we got the Dark Knight Trilogy.

    Yes i know Batman isn’t Godzilla, Yes i also know Tri-Star bombed big time with there horrible Iguana Jurassic park rip off.

    I have hope, an Yes i will be as a fan opening day for Godzilla 2014. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me… This film could be the best Godzilla film in years or it could be another GINO, I’ll take my chances i love the franchise that much. If it’s great then bring on the sequels if it sucks i will say it will be the last Godzilla film i ever pay to see in the United States.

    So this is Legendary’s shot an Hollywood’s last shot with me to get Godzilla right, an i hope they do.

  3. David Tatlow

    I’m going to defend Gareth Edwards a little here. I think Monsters was an impressive debut, and not just for the special effects that he put so much work into . He did a great job disguising his creatures, and ultimately that made the final scene of the film very affecting. It’s a similar gambit that we saw Cloverfield take. The focus of the picture isn’t the monster, it’s the people involved. Edwards put his leading pair front and centre in Monsters, and I imagine we’ll see something similar in Godzilla.
    Your point about rewrites is truly valid though. It concerns me a lot when I see the word. I think we can take some comfort in the fact that it is Frank Darabont’s name were saying, and not some no-name studio stooge. Also, bringing Alien into the discussion again, I believe the very existence of Ripley was down to a rewrite. The optimist inside me always remembers that Michael J. Fox wasn’t the original choice for Marty McFly in Back to the Future. They swapped out Eric Stoltz early on in filming, and one of the most iconic characters of the 80s was born.
    As always, I remain optimistic – I always want any film to impress me, otherwise there’s no point. But I can’t deny that your article hasn’t added to my concerns. I just hope the gambles pay off…

  4. Brandon Somma

    I mean, I’m gonna stay optimistic too, but there are always un-forseen variables that work out in the hell of production. When it comes down to it, no one has any idea if this film will actually be a success. The ideas presented are simply that, ideas.
    I didn’t care for ‘Monsters’, I went back and watched it before I wrote the article to see if my opinion was just stemming from me being arrogant, but I just can’t get into it. The guy can’t direct actors, and the script is not strong enough to hide the monsters so long. But again it’s all an opinion, so I’m not here trying to change anyones mind.

  5. Eugene Tan

    I agree with Point 2. Point 1 is abit redundant and jumping to conclusions based on one example (besides, he has been handld well in the US in other visual mediums, like comics). I kind of agree with 3, since Hollywood just cares about mindless explosions, action and fanservice these days. But to say the Jspanese see a symbopl of the atom bomb when they see Godzilla, or he should always be this deep, dark symbol of nuclear folly, if false. The Japanese see Godzilla as this beloved character they want to see kick ass and blow monsters to space and buy vinyl toys of. While 1, maybe 2 Godzilla films portrat Godzilla as this embodiment of nuclear destruction, most portray him as an action hero/villain. I believe it should be the same for the Hollywood movie.

  6. Taylor Ramsey

    The studio picked him for the same reason they always pick guys like him to direct these kinds of “lets keep our option alive” films: he has nowhere to go but up. Mosters was a decent film and he can do this new film justice. The film will fail however. The studio will fail to back it correctly and just end up hoping the rest of the films in release that weekend under-perform.

  7. Corey Koepper

    Throughout the past decade, there have been VERY successful reboots of major franchises. That isn’t to say some have failed, but I would like to think that the problematic nature of this production will lend itself to pleasant surprises. I don’t know if we’ve seen enough from Gareth Edwards to really know what he can and can’t do. We shall see!

    • Change-ling

      Well Gareth Edwards did some pretty good magic with the CG, but direction skills… well, no bunnies came out of the hat.

  8. You know how to write.

  9. I think it’s worth doing a reboot because most people know the basics about Godzilla, have maybe watched the 90’s version, but don’t really care one way or the other about it. Roland Emmerichs movie wasn’t good, but it wasn’t absolutely garbage either so the brand recognition will get us to the cinema but because there was nothing memorable about the last one, modern audiences will walk in without expectation based on the previous effort unlike Spiderman, Batman, Planet Of The Apes etc. I think they should remake more crappy movies cos the likelihood of success is increased when it’s previous incarnation wasn’t a hit. Sign me up for a remake of “From Dusk Till Dawn” following the Gecko Brothers but minus the 180 degree turn that was adding vampires.

  10. Luis Jose Fernandez

    Well, looks like someone lost hope before the movie makes it, I know this article came in two months ago, but let me tell you something – GODZILLA 2014 WILL NOT FAIL!!! Legendary has made a promise that they will stay true to Toho’s roots, and so far, it has, and they’ve shown they’ve kept their promise, the design looks like Godzilla this time, no iguanas, no TriStar, no Matthew Broderick, and no Roland Emmerich. The reason why G2014 will be so successful it’ll wipe off Zilla ’98 off our memories is because, unlike TriStar, Legendary is staying true to the source material, and it looks like Godzilla is in good hands this time. So screw you if you lost hope, that’s not going to stop everyone into watching it.

  11. Re: the ‘98 Godzilla, this came off of The infamous Jurassic Park 3, particularly the talking Tyrannosaurus Rex in the dream sequence. Probably putting a worse varnish on monster movies.

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