By Kelan Young

Mailed on May 16, 2014

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Dear Yoshimitsu Banno
Executive Producer

Dear Yoshimitsu,

I'm not going to insult your memory by asking if you recall famed Toho producer Tomoyuki Tanaka's reaction upon seeing your debut effort in the long running franchise, Godzilla vs Hedorah--being temporarily blacklisted from the industry after being told that you have "ruined Godzilla" isn't something one readily forgets.

Personally I have quite a soft spot for that outrageous acid-trip of a film, and can understand why it has spawned such a massive cult following over the years. But that's not what I want to talk to you about. When it was first announced that Hollywood was finally going to take another crack at the iconic atomic monster, it seemed appropriate that the man behind the most controversial entry in the series would be there to ensure that, after years outside the limelight, Godzilla might finally become relevant again.

Something I found pleasantly surprising - and something audiences may perceive as a bait-and-switch - is that, contrary to much of the marketing material which suggests that this is yet another movie about an unsympathetic force of destruction bringing humanity to its knees (much in keeping with Ishiro Honda's original), Godzilla is the good guy. Though, as always, his relationship with humanity is complex. You and director Gareth Edwards clearly have a strong grasp of what makes the character compelling. He isn't an outright superhero figure, like in some of the earlier entries, and he certainly doesn't go out of his way to prevent the loss of human life. Instead he acts on behalf of the Earth itself, evening the scales whenever the fragile balance of nature is threatened. In the case of this new film, nigh-indestructible parasites who feed on nuclear energy and threaten to bring about global disaster. Interestingly, not entirely dissimilar to the threat posed by Hedorah in your much-aligned film all those years ago.

I'm not sure if you had to throw around a bit of weight as producer to ensure that the main attraction actually looks like Godzilla this time around, but I'm inclined to doubt it; that sort of thing should be common sense. The creature design here is so simple and effective that it makes the design choices from the 1998 American film even more baffling. I'm sure you've heard the chorus of online commentators arguing about the supposed obesity of the big guy, but, unlike the Godzilla of the later 90s, who would kinda awkwardly waddle around, the added bulk doesn't hinder his movement, and instead gives an impression of immense strength. This is easily the best Godzilla has looked in years, and thanks to some magnificent special effects, there isn't a single moment where he looks anything less than real (a profound accomplishment in a franchise that relied for so long on men in rubber suits stomping in slow-motion).

I can see where this film might lose some people. We rarely see Godzilla in his entirety until the third act. Edwards instead goes the Jaws route, showing us brief glimpses, including an early clash between the Big G and one of the MUTOs conveyed entirely through news broadcasts. There is, instead, great emphasis placed on the human side of these events. One family, in particular, as they try to survive the chaos. Unfortunately, none of the characters, save for Bryan Cranston, hold any real weight; they're all rather forgettable. Luckily, the wait to see Godzilla pays off. There are some truly outstanding moments of spectacle, and a final battle that is sure to have fans grinning ear to ear.

You and the rest of the crew have really brought back the King in the biggest way possible.



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