In today's fandom there is a stark divide. You tend to be tossed into one of two camps, either you love Shin Godzilla and despise G14, or your love G14 and despise Shin. The more rational people who enjoy both tend to be drowned out by these two parties that ignite quite a bit of visceral hate. But what are my thoughts on the films?
Lets start with Godzilla 2014 shall we?
This film. I don't think I've had a G film that I've had such mixed feelings about aside from Final Wars. To start out before this film came out I suppressed all emotions about the film in the event that it sucked. When the film came out I was blown away. I couldn't believe it, a Godzilla film made in america that was done justice and made up for the disaster that was 98'. Now I dont hate 98' as most do, but lets face some facts here, 98' is a poorly constructed film with a cool kaiju that is in no way related to Godzilla by any stretch of the imagination. But back onto 14. After viewing the film and long before Shin was teased in anyway I began to realize a few things about it. The film has some stark flaws to it that irritate me to no end.
First off was the trailer. If memory serves correctly, which it does, we where promised a rather dark G film. One line from the trailer standing out above the rest. "Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.." But we didn't really get the Godzilla we where promised did we? We got a Godzilla that is for certain, but not the right one. Instead we got a Godzilla that is like late showa Godzilla mixed with a cup of late Heisei Godzilla. There is a reason after all as to why this Godzilla was compared to Gamera of all kaiju.
Speaking of, perhaps most controversially of all I feel as though Gareth Edwards completely missed the mark on Godzilla. By creating this Godzilla as a natural predator that fed off of radiation and was designed by nature to be this way, he misses the entire tragedy that is Godzilla. After all the creature has no qualm with humanity and avoids it where it can where as G in previous incarnations either helped it or actively sought to eradicate it. But this is a new origin and its not the change itself that bothers me but the result of it, but that's my own personal tastes.
The film itself is also superb.. for the first 30 minutes and the last 20. The one problem of Brian Cransdon, is that he far outshines his co actors. Once he dies the film is held by Ford a character that doesn't work well on his own. I mean when he is with his family and Brian I can root for the guy but on his own he cannot hold the film. I'm certain many would agree on this. Now as for Ken Watanabe. The man was great but alas he too was wasted potential. He could have had a more active roll and maybe even joined forces or been at odds with Brian, but he was reserved to be the observer.
Godzilla himself is also cast to the side in his own film. Granted Gareth did explain that he wanted some cinematic foreplay in his film akin to jaws, but it doesn't really work. The cut aways serve to frustrate the viewer rather than entice them. Bringing the subject back to jaws the reason why that works so well is you don't see the shark very well or all that much until the climax. That entices the viewer and tickles their brain.
Now onto Shin Godzilla. The subtext in this film as well as the acting is on point. Every characters has a quirk or trait that makes them memorable to an extent. While names can be fuzzy at times you remember everyone in that film, even Maki a guy who isn't even physically present in the film (maybe) has an overbearing presence. The political satire is also accurate and rather humorous at times. Some claim its slow and I can see why. Unless you are interested in the politics you may find it boring, but at least its smart.
Now onto the Godzilla itself. This thing is the core root that G originally stemmed from. While G84 used to be the closest ToHo had come to recreating G54 I think Shin easily usurps that title. Now while G14 was compared to Gamera Shin is more often than not is compared to Destroyah and for good reason, this thing seems intent on exterminating everything it comes across, that and the rapid mutations from a microorganism. While this G has a radically different origin story it still keeps the original spirit of Godzilla.
This film like most of Anno's other works is an experience rather than just a film, its something that intrigues you on an intellectual level and keeps you interested if you can keep up with it.
Now onto something that irks me the most and makes me despise G14 on a few levels. Mostly the fandom behind it. People who claim that G14 is teh strangest gadziller evah! An Shin is weak cuz a bomb blew a hole in his back! Calm yourself Mr. enthusiast. Lets get some facts straight here. G14 was knocked out buy a single skyscraper dropping on him for a few minutes and tossed around by bugs. Shin on the other hand was only incapacitated for a minute or two after having three drop on him after having his nuclear reserves depleted for a few minutes. And as for the bombs they are 30 ton bunker busters and only one actually made him bleed after hitting a weak spot. The injury only lasted seconds as well startlingly enough.
Now what can you take from this long winded rant? I believe Shin Gojira is a far more superior film than G14 will ever be. While I like the film the fans who keep forcing it down my throat and blowing it out of proportion make me despise it on several levels and further expose the film's weaknesses to me.