1. Return of Godzilla
- I've never been bored by either version of this film. Even the lengthy interludes with politicians hold my interest. The slow and deliberate pace, like the lumbering walk of our hero, lends a sense of gradually but unavoidably creeping toward apocalyptic devastation. I enjoy the original cut of this film in the same way I enjoy Fail-Safe
. If I want something edited more like a straight monster movie, I pop in Godzilla 1985
2. Godzilla, King of the Monsters
- The U.S. version of Godzilla
gets more heat than it deserves these days (at least in some circles). Sure, they changed the film. Once you accept that and move on, it's easy to see how much worse it could have been done. Even the blunting of the nuclear allegory was not as extreme as some people suggest. Anyone that watches G,KotM
and doesn't realize that it's a straight shot at U.S. weapons tests would have to be suffering from total historical and cultural amnesia.
Granted, there is the question of why one would even want to watch an edited version now that the better, original cut is available. For me, it's primarily because of Steve Martin. I like the character. Simple as he is, he does add an interesting sensibility to certain scenes. Compare his reaction as (he believes) death approaches, to the reporters on the tower, and it's a rather fascinating contrast. There is something disturbing about his total resignation amidst the terror of imminent destruction. This represents for me one of the best individual personifications of the fear of nuclear devastation I've ever seen in a monster picture. Martin knows how close death is, but also how utterly powerless he is to stop it. Why stammer and wail in terror? It's not going to do you one damn bit of good. Also, it shouldn't be dismissed that the presence of Raymond Burr adds a prominently visible American to the list of Godzilla's victims. This surely was not the reason Transworld wrote him into the story, but I'd like to think that someone realized how interesting a choice it was to place a U.S. citizen in mortal danger alongside the people we had so recently warred against.
3. Godzilla Raids Again
- Fine, it's a quickie-sequel that's rough around every possible edge. Even so, I don't think it's as brutally boring as a lot of others seem to. Even when it's rehashing elements of its predecessor, I'm generally being entertained. It lacks the intellectual value and polish of the first film, as well as the personality that would come in the '60s, but compared to all the Burt I. Gordon-style monster pictures that abounded in cinemas of day, GRA
doesn't look as bad as many suggest.
4. Godzilla vs. Hedorah
- The tide seems to be turning on this one. I hate the flying scene more than I can say, but I can overlook it because the rest of the film is aces, in my opinion. An actual point, solid stylistic direction from Banno, good acting for the most part, and generally excellent SFX that seem all the more impressive when you consider what comes after.
5. Godzilla vs. Gigan
- Alright, this is one almost totally indefensible. It's cheap, full of stock footage, and utterly ridiculous. However, some of the new SFX are well-shot and exciting (Gigan at the oil refinery, especially), I find the hippie, the artist, and the kung-fu chick totally endearing in their stupidity and goofiness, and this is the lengthiest team-up of Godzilla and Anguirus we ever saw. Damn it, if people can enjoy Megalon
and Final Wars
, I can enjoy Gigan