For over 60 years, and across more than 30 films, Godzilla – The King of Monsters – has been stomping through built-up areas like a bewildered tourist with incredibly bad breath. Atomically bad, in fact.
He’s so big and mighty that nothing can keep him off our screens, which is why he’s back again. Sony Movie Channel is relaunching across Freeview, Virgin and Sky on Tuesday 10 January, kicking off with a monster of a movie night featuring Godzilla and Predator.
Sony Movie Channel will cater to movie-lovers everywhere with regular features including Sofa Sunday (for families), Mega Weekends (blockbusters every Friday, Saturday and Sunday), Thrilling Mornings (Thrillers every weekday morning), and Premieres every Monday.
So given that you’ve got another chance to see Godzilla having a stomp around, without the danger of a building falling on your head, it’s as good a time as any to sift through the smoking rubble he’s left in his wake and see just how far he’s come…
Born as a metaphor for Japan’s collective nuclear fear, Godzilla was originally planned to be a stop-motion creation in the Ray Harryhausen style, and was directly inspired by Harryhausen’s work in The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.
Named Gojira (a portmanteau of the Japanese for whale, ‘kujira’, and gorilla, ‘gorira’), he was then going to be gorilla or whale-like in design, until it was decided that he be more lizard-like, incorporating bit of dinosaur here and there. The plates on his back are clearly influenced by those of a Stegosaurus.
A deep-sea creature disturbed by nuclear testing, GorillaWhale – sorry, Godzilla – then went on to stomp around Tokyo, looking every bit like a man in a suit made of bamboo, steel mesh, latex and rubber. In fact, even after it was made lighter, the suit was so heavy that the man inside it, Haruo Nakajima, was only able to wear it for 3 minutes at a time or else risk passing out.
Not an actual Godzilla (depending on the movie you watch he was either created by aliens, the UN, or the Japanese government), but c’mon, a big robot dinosaur is too cool not to look at.
Son of Godzilla (1967)
In Japan, Godzilla’s look didn’t really change much between his introduction and the new millennium. The suits became more intricate, aspects were tweaked; Mr. GorillaWhale got bigger and more defined.
And he also had a son. Don’t know how he had the time to do that in between all the city-smashing and duking it out with Mothra, Rodan, and even King Kong, but good for him. Although you never see Mrs Godzilla on the scene, do you?
Son of Godzilla introduces Minilla (yes, almost sort of like the envelope), a real widdle cutie who gets to enjoy some quality father-son time destroying some giant mantises with his dad. When he has trouble copying his old man’s famous atomic breath, smoke rings come out of his mouth. D’aww. Adorable.
Godzilla’s US-made debut saw him taking a holiday to the Big Apple and facing the might of Matthew Broderick. A radical departure to the traditional design saw him reduced to something approximate to his size in the original Japanese movie (about 50 metres tall), but given a much different appearance to reflect its slightly altered origin as a giant, H-Bomb mutated Iguana, instead of the awakened sea-beastie.
Crucially it was the first time that Godzilla was a fully-CGI creation throughout, and a far cry from the ‘Suitmation’ of earlier years No one passing out and falling on Jean Reno here, oh no. More nimble than its predecessors, there’s was something incredibly prehistoric about this Godzilla, as s/he moved through Manhattan’s streets like a T-Rex out of its time.
Well, someone was eating their greens n’ creatine and focusing on their muscle mass, weren’t they?
After 16 years off the big screen in the West, Godzilla came back bigger and bulkier than ever, and until Godzilla Shin came out in Japan in 2016, he was the biggest the King of Monsters had ever been, measuring a whopping 108 metres tall, and with the kind of physique that made him look like an utterly unstoppable force of nature.
Despite being massive enough to dwarf skyscrapers, he’s barely seen in the film – a choice that makes him all the more awesome to behold when he is glimpsed. A remake/reboot of Godzilla vs King Kong is scheduled for 2020. I hope that monkey’s doing some push-ups…
Shin Godzilla (2016)
The biggest ‘zilla yet, coming it at a gargantuan 118 metres tall, this rejuvenation on the King of Monsters was again entirely CGI, but thanks to motion capture he was still imbued with a shape and style of movement that harked back to the creatures original ‘man in a debilitatingly heavy suit’ physicality.
This time Godzilla was given a gigantic, almost prehensile tail, which whipped around like a tentacle with a mind of its own, smashing buildings to bits and – we can only presume – wafting away his monster-sized farts.
What’s your favourite Godzilla movie? Let us know below…