Shared universes are all the rage in Hollywood these days, but if one looks closely, it is not the MCU that did it first. Several filmmakers have earlier tried to establish cross-film connections and gone to great lengths to ensure connectivity and continuity in properties that proved to be immensely popular, and nothing I say can be testament to the popularity that Toho’s monsters and Kaijus have garnered all over the world, especially Japan before the monster fever took over Hollywood too.
The earliest monster film can be dated to as long back as the 1930s when ‘King Kong’ was first released, and this coupled with the success of ‘The Beast From 20000 Fathoms’ then inspired Toho to do Godzilla in the 1950s that would go on to become its most revered and longest running film series, spanning 35 films over the seven decades that have passed, with the gigantic lizard’s popularity soaring as the years have passed, and new monsters being added to its universe continually expanding on its myth and Eastern roots.
However, let’s get one thing out-of-the-way here, just as we begin. Gigantic monsters easily the size of skyscrapers battling each other with our cities as playgrounds, reducing decades worth of labour into rubble and dust as we humans lay mere spectators, never hurt anyone. Infact, most people want to pay to watch more on-screen mayhem. They even prefer it with a big tub of popcorn.To add to that, some of these films have then even dealt with how humans have impacted the environment despite being such a small part of the ecosystem, and how these monsters are nature’s way of a much-needed purge, adding to what these films really are about, apart from their sheer entertainment value.
Godzilla first received the Hollywood treatment starting with Roland Emmerich’s eponymous film back in 1998 that no one really prefers to talk about, and then again in 2014 when the franchise was rebooted in Gareth Edwards’ ‘Godzilla’, a CGI heavy, slow burn kind of monster experience, with Godzilla at the centre being hailed as a god. To be fairly honest, I didn’t quite dislike the film as much as the audiences around the world, thinking that the beast’s entry well into the second half was rather earned and worth it, with the payoff to the build-up being good enough in my opinion.
However, audiences were surely looking for more monsters and definitely more Godzilla, and the 2019 sequel, ‘Godzilla II: King of the Monsters’ more than take cares of that. Infact, a central plot point of the film involves several monsters, or as they are referred to in the film, Titans, unleashed upon the planet from being awakened from a deep state of hibernation to “restore balance” on the planet. While the scheme is becoming increasingly one-dimensional even for a cliched Hollywood villain, the film does get one thing right: the monster fights, especially the first one in Antarctica between sworn enemies.