Kids have some far-fetched dreams. Long before I wanted to be a writer, an astronaut, a medieval knight, or even a paleontologist, my original ambition was to actually be a dinosaur. A Tyrannosaurus Rex, to be specific. I remember running around the playground at recess pantomiming what I thought must be appropriate T-Rex behavior, my little arms clutched close to my body, two fingers on either hand grasping at nothing, while I chased and tried to bite the other kids.
Yeah, in retrospect, I probably looked like a special needs student.
My mother enabled me by sewing a T-Rex costume for me when I was in the first grade. I pretty much lived in that thing. I still have it, in fact. I’d probably be wearing it right now if I could still fit it.
Around that time, I had to do my first research project on something for school. The assignment required us to use a book from the library (this was the prehistoric age back when libraries still had books), and it was then, digging through the Dewey Decimal System, that I discovered something even better than my current T-Rex hero, Grimlock.
Grimlock, if you’re not familiar, was a Transformer T-Rex that both had a sword (in robot form) AND breathed fire. These things are important when you’re eight (or thirty-two). It always bothered me that he could only express himself monosyllabically and in the third person with the exception of his own name, but he was just too damn cool to care that much.
On a side note, here’s Grimlock in Transformers: Age of Extinction.
‘Bout time, Michael Bay. Try not to crap on my childhood anymore, please?
Well, they didn’t have a book on Transformers in the school library, but strangely enough, they had one on Godzilla.
I had discovered the King of Monsters, who was essentially a 100 meter tall, nuclear fire breathing, T-Rex-Stegosaurus hybrid that could stomp the s— out of anything on this planet, and others. I learned a lot of interesting facts about the films as well, like the original Godzilla being named Gojira (and female) and the Japanese version of King Kong Vs. Godzilla ending differently from the piece of crap we got where the chest thumping monkey wins.
After giving my report, I smoozed my parents into renting every Godzilla movie they carried at the local Blockbuster, another relic of a prehistoric age. I watched my favorite monster transition from a metaphor for nuclear war to a savior figure that then beat the tar out of other monsters–most ridiculously, his own robotic double constructed by alien apes.
Being the guy in the Godzilla suit pre-CGI had to be a blast. “Okay, Hideki. We need you to put on this rubber monster costume and trash this cardboard model of Tokyo. When you’re done with that, you get to smack around and bite people in other suits while you pretend you can breathe fire.”
Where the heck was that job on the interest inventory exam we all had to take?
Around high school (1995), the good movies stopped. My building stomping was relegated to replaying Rampage: World Tour.
So I was initially excited when Sony got their hands on the rights to my favorite monster until I heard they had to “change him by 80%”. I figured there was no way that could be true–he still had to be Godzilla, or there was no way they could call the movie Godzilla, right?
Quite unfortunately, I took a date to this movie. It was our first date. It was our last date. This was probably because I stood up in the movie theater at the end and raged, “You can’t kill Godzilla with missiles, you stupid bastards! Godzilla eats missiles! That’s like lobbing a bunch of cheeseburgers at me and saying, ‘Die, fat boy, die!'”
I mean, every part of the movie was offensive–especially the part where the Americans get saved by the French. I also rather enjoyed the random Godzilla babies running around Madison Square Garden like it was Jurassic Park. What were they thinking?
Apparently, they were thinking they needed to change it by 80%. Mission accomplished.
The new Godzilla is more of a throwback to the older flicks. We don’t see the monster until about an hour in. There are monsters (MUTOs) that are metaphors for the destructive power of nuclear energy. At the same time, Godzilla is the hero of the movie and is able to battle the MUTOs to protect mankind. It’s a blend of everything that was good about the Toho films with the addition of performances by The Last Samurai (Ken Watanabe) and Walter White (Bryan Cranston). Without spoiling anything more, I dug it and was able to leave the theater without embarrassing myself–this time.
The one thing I will say is that the new Godzilla looks like he’s put on a little weight. In this way only, he remains Americanized.