I suppose, when you get down to it, most folks who buy books about movies usually want facts, stories, and pictures from or about the movies. So, in a sense, James Egan's 2015 ebook 500 Facts About Godzilla is a mere distillation of the first of these categories—a no-frills, straight-up list of five hundred facts about Godzilla (or about Toho). Egan has written a number of these fact collection books, including an entire series of books about common misconceptions and huge repositories of facts on pop culture subjects, such as 3000 Facts About TV Shows. His Godzilla book is no high art, but after reading the grossly insulting Godzilla: 5 Shocking Facts about Godzilla (even that title is horrendous), 500 Facts About Godzilla seems about 100 times better… but Egan's attempt is still is not a very good book, especially when placed beside superior efforts like John LeMay's recent books.
Here's the lowdown: Egan provides largely unadorned lists of facts about all the Godzilla films up until Godzilla (2014), as well as a "miscellaneous" category and a short section on Toho studios. The "facts" are all numbered (just to make sure that you know you got your money's worth I suppose), and many of them are really just… unnecessary. For example, about the original film, fact number 28 is, "The movie is in black-and-white." Many of the facts are just the year that some movie came out, or a list of monsters that appears in the film. Other "facts" are just wrong, such as how Egan identifies Godzilla as an "Iguanadon" (he capitalized it, not me), or how he states that Toho's second most successful monster series was... Gamera. Other facts are just vague or confusing (Egan notes that Godzilla is a Cultural Ambassador, but doesn't explain what that means, or even mention that the G-man is the Cultural Ambassador of Japan rather than, I don't know, Zimbabe), or even contradictory (Egan states that Minilla doesn't appear in any films between Destroy All Monsters (1968) and Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), but then states that Minilla appears in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993)). Unsurprisingly, some films get many, many facts, while others have relatively few, with Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003) receiving only two facts—those being that the film is a direct sequel to the previous film, and it was released in 2003. Fantastic.
Some of the facts listed can be rather interesting; though given the prevalence of errors, I can't say I am very confident in Egan's ability to fact-check his facts. Egan rarely goes into any detail with the bits of trivia he has collected, even when some more detail would be helpful. At one point, writing about Godzilla (1998), Egan claims that in some countries where the 1998 film was loved and proved a financial success, the 2014 film fell short—but does not name the countries. Of course Egan never cites his sources at all, so those interested in fact-checking or reading more are grim out of luck, as well as out of a buck or two for purchasing this frankly unnecessary book.
At least I am happy to report that this book is not yet another collection of funny movie reviews, even though occasionally Egan provides an amusing comment or two. Also, unlike Godzilla: 5 Shocking Facts About Godzilla, Egan's book has a colorful and amusing cover image. Still, no Godzilla fan should feel compelled to purchase this unimpressive collection—yet another in a long line of mostly uninspired self-published Godzilla books released in recent years.