In a banner week for ill-conceived movie pitches, Variety has revealed Warner Bros. and Legendary pictures are in the process of producing a yankified GODZILLA film for 2012 release.
In all honesty, one can hardly conceive of a new flick being worse than 1998′s American re-make of GODZILLA (Godzilla is taken out by ONE sidewinder missile…Whaaaaa?) Nevertheless, this Godzilla fanatic can’t conceive of a single American or European director (besides, maybe, Quentin Tarantino) capable of shepherding the king of monsters through the Hollywood gauntlet without losing everything that makes the character so special. Sure, on the surface the GODZILLA formula seems pretty simple: Giant monster comes ashore at major city, crushes everything, breathes fire, maybe fights other monster, but the real appeal of this 5-decade old icon is more complex, a wonderful melange of earnestness,outlandishness, quaintness and foam latex that only the Japanese seem to get.
The core problem here is not just Hollywood’s tendency to stray from the essentials of co-opted properties, but the cultish appeal of the character itself. No matter how talented the director, no matter how high-concept the Hollywood “refinements”, its the blockbuster polish itself that will sand down any big-budget Gojira into indistinction. Do we really want to see GODZILLA with next-gen, cutting edge special effects? As talented as, say, Christopher Nolan or Guillermo Del Toro are, could you really concieve their hypothetical auteur-infused visions of GODZILLA? Would it be GODZILLA all?
Then there is the 50+ years of Godzilla continuity to deal with, and the fact that filmmakers will have to choose between depicting the character as a terrifying avatar of nuclear holocaust, or the sauroid superhero he eventually became. On top of that, you just know that they’ll have to set the film in the US, which, to this fan, is kind of like making a Paul Bunyan movie and then setting it in France.
I’m all for a high-profile Kaiju-style monster flick, just don’t try and call it GODZILLA. The icon has too much baggage, too much context to work as a “legit” hollywood film. Even in a best case scenario outcome with some a-list geek favorite talent behind the camera, something will be lost. Something you cant just buy with a $200 million budget alone.