Monday, 4 January 2016

Godzilla 2016: My Honest Opinion

Out of respect to Toho Studios, I will NOT be posting or sharing links to any of the unofficially leaked images that have surfaced in the past day of the new Godzilla design that will be featured in this summer's Shin Gojira (internationally titled: Godzilla Resurgence.) That being said, I will share my own thoughts and opinions on this particular Godzilla design. If you have seen the images, then what I'll be saying will make sense to you. If you have not seen them, then just use your imagination!

The head design featured on the teaser poster above is only the tip of this radioactive iceberg. This new Godzilla is far different than almost all previous incarnations of the character, and yet retains much of what makes Godzilla rather distinctive, notably the body design, upright posture, four fingers, four toes, jagged dorsal plates, the complete works. However, there is much that differentiates it from it's past incarnations too, which I'll explain from head to toe.

The Head

As we know now based on the teaser poster released in the past month, Godzilla's head is meant to mimic that of the original 1954 Godzilla with the downward facing eyes, bumpy skin, and long sharp teeth. What it lacks, however, are Godzilla's tiny ears. What we see on the poster, I assume, is concept art. The head we see on the suit resembles what we see on the poster a great deal, albeit a tad more chunkier and swollen. My favorite aspect of the head design is its jaw, filled with jagged razor sharp teeth that just go all over the place. It reminds me of the mouth of an Angler Fish to a degree.

The one aspect about the head that I do not like are the small beady eyes. This design trait worked fine for Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures' Godzilla, but I feel that it only detracts from the overall look for Toho's new Godzilla. The eyes are human-like; round, white with brown irises, somewhat like tinier and less dilated versions of the eyes for Godzilla 1984. People have told me that it seems this particular design trait was likely a throwback to one of Hideaki Anno's (co-director for Shin Gojira) most famous creations, Neon Genesis Evangelion, where we catch our first glimpse of what an Evangelion truly is. Or even some of the smaller Gyaos birds from Gamera: Guardian of the Universe whose special effects were directed by none other than Shinji Higuchi himself. What I think the design was going for was something reminiscent of the 1954 Godzilla. I still think the eyes could have been a tad bigger.

The Neck

Godzilla's neck is long, perhaps a tad too long. I honestly do not know what to make of it, to tell you guys the truth. However, this is another design trait that parallels the original 1954 Godzilla who also had a longer neck than its future incarnations (up to now.) I have no opinion on this aspect of the design.

The Chest

Now we are getting to the section of the body where things get a little surreal. Godzilla's chest is not round, bulky, nor scaly like previous incarnations. It is fleshy and has a texture that reminds me heavily of both the chest of Space Godzilla from Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla (1994) and the Colossal Titan from the live action adaptation of Attack on Titan (2015,) the latter which was also directed by Shin Gojira (2016) co-director Shinji Higuchi. The parallels in designs between Godzilla 2016 and the Colossal Titan from the live action adaptation of Attack on Titan should not come as much of a surprise since the two share a concept designer. Godzilla's chest bone/plate is also buffed out a bit and sharpened, which reminds me heavily of the chests of various Kaiju in Pacific Rim (2013) like Knifehead and those that share its same body type.

The Arms

Godzilla's arms are quite tiny and skinny. They look practically useless if he were to fight against some other monster - which leads to me to think that Shin Gojira will be one of those rare solo Godzilla films not seen since 1984 and 1954 (I am not counting 1998.) Godzilla has four fingers as well. The position of the arms, I think resemble that of the 1954 Godzilla too. However, they're just small in contrast to the rest of the body.

The Spines

In shape, Godzilla's dorsal plates resemble those of previous incarnations of the character, notably the 1954 design. However, as far as similarities go, that's where it ends. Like Godzilla 2014, the spines are of the same skin color as the body instead of a creamy bone white color. Also, where there would be a dark patch of skin on the classic dorsal plates, there is now a bright bloody red patch of flesh in the center of the spines. This is where I think Toho borrowed inspiration from Godzilla 2014. I can go either way on this design trait. Yeah it'd be nice to see the classic bone colored spines again, but the dark, red highlighted plates for this new Godzilla don't look all that bad actually. I'm just hoping the red patches don't indicate that Godzilla's atomic breath will also be red in this movie...

The Skin

Fans of Godzilla's classic tree-bark-like skin will be bummed out to learn that Godzilla 2016 does not feature Godzilla's classic skin texture. Instead Godzilla is very fleshy and looks very burnt, and scarred. It is as if he is either regenerating or decomposing due to radiation exposure. It's claimed that this is meant to reflect Ishiro Honda's original vision for Godzilla with him being a "literal victim of the atomic bomb." His appearance reflects that of a severely burnt victim with patches of flesh exposed under his rough scaly skin. The overall coloration for Godzilla's skin is not only charcoal gray, but also dark red. Again... Just imagine the Colossal Titan's skin on Godzilla's body and you'll have a good idea of what to expect. Do I like it or hate it? I'm not sure. Currently there is a rumor spreading around that this might not be Godzilla's "final form" and that he's actually undergoing a regeneration process from some previous encounter or something of the sort. If that is to be the case, then I'm all for this new look as it will showcase one of Godzilla's most notable yet unfocused attributes: His ability to heal very quickly. This was highlighted in Godzilla 2000: Millennium (1999) with the in-film discovery of Re-generator G1 in Godzilla's skin cells that is responsible for his extraordinary recovery speed. It is also highlighted once again in the 2001 film Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack where the Godzilla that is featured is in fact the original Godzilla who has undergone 50 years of regeneration after being killed by "an unknown chemical compound." At the end of the film, Godzilla explodes, but all that is left of him is his beating heart, which implies that Godzilla will regenerate his body once again. Knowing this, Godzilla 2016 might be rebuilding his body throughout the film, which makes its international title make more sense, Godzilla Resurgence.

This is where I end my description of the body since we only see the upper half of the suit in the leaked photos. We already know what the feet looks like from the teaser image Toho unveiled early last year, officially announcing the film's production. The foot design we see resembles that of the 1954 Godzilla's and even has a trilobite hidden in the design too, referencing Dr. Yamane's discovery of a trilobite in one of Godzilla's footprints on Odo Island in Gojira (1954).

So, what do I think about the new Toho Godzilla design?

It is different. It is certainly different that all that have come before it. I like that Shinji Higuchi and Hideaki Anno are giving us the "most frightening Godzilla ever," but I hope Godzilla's grotesque design plays into the context of the story and overall tone of the film and not just for the sake of looking scary in a relatively bland film.

Do I like it, or hate it?

That is a tough question to answer right now. But based on what I've seen so far, I am somewhere in between. All we see now is one of the props/puppets they'll be using to bring Godzilla to life in the film. Other methods will be utilized to realize Godzilla in this film as well such as a suit and CGI. Godzilla 2016 is a tough pill to swallow right now based on what we see and its design has swiftly divided the fandom in the past 24 hours. Most were quick to bash it. Some accepted it with a hint of minor disappointment. Others await to see more, which is what I intend to do. I hope to see this new Godzilla in action in a theatrical trailer or the actual film when it comes out. There's got to be more to it than meets the eye.

So, those are my opinions of the design as of today. I am sure that in time my views will change as we see more and more of Shin Gojira.

If you have seen the leaked photos, share with us in the comments section below your thoughts of the new Godzilla whether it be good or bad!

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