News Entertainment Even Without Much Godzilla, the 2014 ‘Godzilla’ Still Rules
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Even Without Much Godzilla, the 2014 ‘Godzilla’ Still Rules

By A. A. Dowd, Freelance Writer

Published on Mar. 28, 2024, 4:41 AM EDT

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Everett Collection

SCALE MATTERS

With another King Kong crossover on the horizon, let’s revisit the divisive Godzilla movie that kickstarted a new franchise.

It took 70 years, but Godzilla finally clinched an Oscar. The colossal creature's latest rampage, "Godzilla Minus One," snagged the Best Visual Effects award at the 96th Academy Awards—a well-deserved accolade for a movie monster that has been wreaking resourceful, frugally realized mayhem since the days when it was merely a stuntman stomping through model cities.

Interestingly, one of the films "Minus One" outshone was "The Creator," a lavish sci-fi epic directed by Gareth Edwards. Edwards, however, seems to have taken the loss in stride. He has nothing but praise for the movie that bested his own creation. "It’s what a Godzilla film should be," he gushed in a recent interview. And he should know—he directed a Godzilla movie himself. That film, simply titled "Godzilla," hit theaters a decade ago this May. A box office hit, it achieved what Roland Emmerich couldn't: it ushered the towering Japanese star into an ongoing Hollywood franchise. Multiple sequels followed; the latest, "Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire," stomps into multiplexes this Friday. The franchise has even expanded onto television with an Apple TV spinoff set before, during, and after the events of the monster movie that inspired it.

Despite laying the groundwork for the MonsterVerse, the 2014 "Godzilla" occupies an unusual niche in the pantheon of everyone’s favorite radioactive reptile. It lacks the acclaim of its recent Japanese counterparts, "Minus One" and the satirical "Shin Godzilla" from 2016. (Fans from that side of the world had a field day poking fun at the portly creature design, jesting that of course an American take on the G-man would be bulkier.) Even within its own so-called MonsterVerse, Edwards' hit stands out as an outlier: the sequels have responded to complaints about insufficient Godzilla screen time by delivering more kaiju action, as if making amends for their predecessor.

Yet, none of those subsequent movies captures a fraction of the eerie grandeur that Edwards infused into his 2014 masterpiece. Few Hollywood event pictures released since then can match its IMAX spectacle. "Godzilla '14" is a state-of-the-art kaiju film that splashes every penny on the screen, channeling its resources into genuinely striking imagery—a quality that had largely lain dormant during the age of Kevin Feige.

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