Toho’s Godzilla Movies Outshine American Takes on the Kaiju Icon
For his diminutive, frantically fleeing co-stars, Godzilla proves to be a challenging scene partner: an unyielding improviser, often playing to the camera, and occasionally adopting Method acting in every shoot. However, the main difficulty lies in sharing the screen with him in a literal, visual capacity. His colossal size either dominates the frame when viewed from a mortal perspective or diminishes people to mere ants from his towering vantage point.
Every installment in the extensive and frequently rebooted franchise grapples with the issue of scale as it strives to find its position on a spectrum between a “human story plagued by a giant lizard” and a “giant lizard story nagged by humans.” Achieving the right balance can be easily misjudged. The recent Hollywood portrayals of the twenty-story-tall poster boy have struggled to strike this balance, leaning towards an overdose of lore while lingering on characters who pale in comparison to their reptilian co-star.
Gareth Edwards demonstrated insight with his 2014 rendition, abstracting our species as a collective concept—an insignificant plank in the path of a flattening force of nature unleashed by the bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Rooted in the anxiety of the atomic age, Godzilla has always embodied a creature of ideas, his grand stature more historical than melodramatic.
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