Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Promise Broken: "Godzilla" Blu-ray Is Sans Akira Takarada

by Armand Vaquer

Godzilla is now out in home video. But, Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. reneged on their promise to include Akira Takarada's cut scene from the Blu-ray edition of Godzilla.

Frankly, I don't find this surprising, but fans were told when word came out about Takarada's scene being cut that the scene would be included in the Blu-ray edition. Well, it's not there! (I have not purchased it yet, so I am relying on reliable sources.)

Above, the cut scene featuring Akira Takarada. Photo: Legendary Pictures/Warner Bros.

One fan wrote in Facebook:
Nearly Everyone involved promised Takarada-san's scene would be on the Blu-Ray. I have seen it in writing and I have it in writing myself. So I am waiting. Picture quality is not the issue for me. No Takarada scene is a deal breaker for me. I hope for a directors/extended cut later. Who knows. It will not be the first time the studio was somewhat less than respectful to the fans.
The Blu-ray and DVD discs of Godzilla has been met with mixed reviews. Some say the movie plays too dark and has noise, while others say it plays just fine. I suppose it depends upon the player and television monitor one is using.

It is my understanding that there's a special edition of the Blu-ray at Target department stores featuring a 30-minute featurette titled, "Rebirth of an Icon." In order to get it, one must buy the disc with the view of Godzilla's backside (or spines) on the box art (I've read).

Still, is it disappointing that Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. broke their word pertaining to Akira Takarada's scene.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Godzilla's Legal Defenders

by Armand Vaquer

Above, former Toho-L.A. General Manager Masaharu Ina and Armand at the Godzilla statue in Hibiya in February. The good working relationship between fan groups and Toho began under Ina's tenure as general manager. 

Here's a story that fans of Godzilla are familiar with. Or should be.

The article from the Japan Times is on the team of lawyers that Toho Co., Ltd. enlists to protect the Godzilla (and related creatures) trademark against bootleggers and companies who try to use Godzilla's image in advertising and other unauthorized ventures.

The article begins with:
He spews radioactive fire, razes cities and pummels creatures from Earth and beyond, but even Godzilla needs a good lawyer sometimes. After all, you don’t survive 60 years in the movie business without taking some fights to court. 
For decades, attorneys acting on behalf of Godzilla’s owners, Tokyo-based Toho Co., have amassed a string of victories, fighting counterfeiters and business titans such as Comcast and Honda along the way. The opponents have come from all corners of pop culture: TV commercials, video games, rap music and even the liquor industry. 
The litigation has kept Godzilla’s brand thriving and helped pave the way for commercial and merchandising tie-ins that will accompany the monster’s return to the big screen on Friday after a 10-year hiatus. Godzilla’s image is for sale, but permission is needed.
Back in the days when I was associated with G-FAN magazine, I made it a point to consult with Toho's Los Angeles office to make sure that what we did on different things didn't infringe on their trademarks. This was started while Masaharu Ina was Toho's Los Angeles General Manager. In this way, no toes were stepped on and Toho appreciated the the gesture. If they a problem with a certain aspect, they would suggest changes. We had an excellent working relationship, even though, officially, Toho has a policy of not sanctioning fan activities. But they were helpful whenever they could. Prior to this, there existed some friction between Toho and various fan leaders (some of whom seemed to want to pick fights with Toho). Cooperating with Toho had paid off many times.

To read the full story, go here.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

"Godzilla" and The Critics

by Armand Vaquer

Above, "the King's" statue in Hibiya. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Comic Book Movie.com has snips of the "first wave" of reviews of the Legendary Pictures/Warner Bros. Godzilla.

For the most part, the critic reviews are generally favorable to the movie with the biggest kudos going to the cinematography, the monsters and the movie's ending. Most are saying that Godzilla put back the "awe" in "awesome" and that the film will satisfy the monster fans.

In a nutshell: "It delivers!"

On the negative side, the consensus among critics are that the characters aren't "fleshed out" as well as they could be or that they are superficial. Well, who goes to monster movies for fully fleshed-out characters? The Godzilla movie with the best-developed characters of all has to be the 1954 original.

Still, this Godzilla is a "marked improvement" over the 1998 Sony/TriStar Godzilla.

What hurt some of Toho's "Millennium" series of movies was that the characters they came up with had "personal issues" that were more annoying than moving forward the plot. The two that stand out as suffering the most from this were the Mechagodzilla movies, Godzilla x Mechagodzilla (2002) and Godzilla x Mothra x Mechagodzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003) (the second one being the worst).

I will quote one critic whose comments are in the article (chosen at random):

DEN OF GEEK: "Most Creative & Striking Summer Blockbuster We’ve Seen In Years"
"This new Godzilla lacks the sense of despair present in Ishiro Honda’s 1954 original. But in its place is something relatively fresh in films such as this: an absence of cynicism. There’s an underlying theme in here about parents protecting children, and of people simply trying to do the right thing in the face of disaster. In Edwards’ reading of Godzilla, there isn’t necessarily any such thing as good or evil. There’s merely humanity and nature, with the former standing awe-struck in the destructive presence of the latter. Most importantly, Godzilla himself emerges just as he should: a bellowing, powerful force; a true king of the monsters." - Ryan Lambie
If you are interested in seeing what the other critics are saying, go to the link at the beginning of this blog post.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

2nd "Godzilla" International Trailer Released

Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. have released the second international trailer to Godzilla. It is action-packed with some flying footage of Godzilla's foe, MUTO.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Huffington Post: "Godzilla's Secret History"

by Armand Vaquer

Poster: Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros.

Back in 1998, the TriStar Godzilla (commonly referred to by fans as G.I.N.O. (Godzilla In Name Only)) was released to much-deserved bad reviews by critics and fans. At that time, before the movie was released in May of that year, very little, if anything, was mentioned about the backstory of the Godzilla character in Japan.

This year, with Legendary Pictures/Warner Bros. Godzilla will hit theaters on May 16 and the media is paying more attention as that release date nears. The media is also taking a look at what led to Godzilla as a stand-in for the atomic bomb. This is very gratifying to see. I don't remember any articles even discussing this aspect 16 years ago.

The Huffington Post has a good article on "Godzilla's Secret History" which fans should take a look at and steer non-fans over to read it. They acknowledge that the Gareth Edwards-directed film will be getting Godzilla back to his roots. That couldn't be said of the Matthew Broderick debacle of 1998.

Here's the first paragraph for a taste on what the article says:
Godzilla is a multicultural icon. If there was a Coca-Cola commercial featuring monsters that sung the national anthem, he'd be singing his part in a mixture of English and Japanese. He's been terrorizing Tokyo for longer than Disneyland has been around. Over the span of 60 years, he's battled Earthlings, space monsters and robots, spawned offspring and chased Matthew Broderick, all while belting out the most iconic roar in film history. He's appeared in 28 Japanese films, a 1998 American film and an upcoming 2014 reboot, countless comic books, novels, video games and TV. That's an astounding feat of sustainability. The daikaiju has nestled in our hearts (and nightmares) carving out a permanent place in the annals of entertainment lore. But even more astounding is Godzilla's secret past. Where did Godzilla come from, and why? In anticipation of Godzilla 2014 hitting theaters May 16 (directed by Gareth Edwards, and starring Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen and Ken Watanabe), here's a brief guide to the monster's origin story. The truth may actually blow your mind. 
Above, the bow of the Lucky Dragon No. 5. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The article won't blow fans' minds, but it does give a good history of Godzilla that fans can pass on to friends who haven't a clue on what the Godzilla character was really all about.  The Lucky Dragon No. 5 story is a major part of the article.

To read "Godzilla's Secret History," go here.

Friday, April 25, 2014

"Godzilla" Roars In Early Tracking

Above, the new Godzilla IMAX poster.

It is starting to look like Legendary Pictures/Warner Bros. Godzilla is a blockbuster in the making in early tracking.

The Hollywood Reporter reported today:
May tentpole Godzilla came on tracking Thursday with impressive strength and should stomp past $60 million in its North American debut. More bullish box-office observers believe it could clear $70 million. 
The movie, hoping to finally launch a Hollywood studio franchise headlined by the giant lizard, could be a defining moment for Legendary Pictures, which spearheaded the $160 million reboot. Legendary co-financed 75 percent of Godzilla, with Warner Bros. putting up the rest of the money. 
Godzilla opens in North American theaters on May 16. It makes its international assault at the same time. Box-office observers believe Godzilla will have even more strength overseas.
To read more, go here

Thursday, April 24, 2014

"Godzilla" Now At A Bus Shelter Near You

by Armand Vaquer

As we get closer to May 16, which is opening day for Legendary Pictures/Warner Bros. Godzilla, the advertising machine is either in high gear or getting very close to it.

I have seen television advertisements, billboards and, now, bus shelter ads.

Tonight, while on my way to work in Burbank, California (which is also home to Warner Bros. Studios), I spotted this bus bench shelter with a Godzilla poster and took a couple shots of it with my cell phone.

Here they are:

This brought to mind how disappointing the ad campaign, or lack thereof, of Godzilla 2000 back in the summer of 2000. There were no bus shelter or any other kinds of advertising that I saw at the time. Small wonder why the movie only earned $10 million at the box office.

And, in Chicago...

Above, Lenell Bridges poses with a Godzilla poster at a Chicago bus shelter. Photo courtesy of Lenell Bridges.


Burbank, CA – March 29, 2010 – Legendary Pictures announced today that they will develop and produce a new film based on Toho Company’s famed GODZILLA character. Through the terms of the agreement, Legendary Pictures has acquired the rights to produce a movie inspired by Toho’s Godzilla, a franchise the Japanese company created and has nurtured for over fifty years.

Toho’s GODZILLA franchise boasts one of the most widely recognized film creatures worldwide, resulting in a series of books, television programs, video games and more than 25 films worldwide. Legendary intends to approach the film and its characters in the most authentic manner possible. The company will, in the near future, announce a filmmaker to helm the film for an intended 2012 release. The film will fall under the company’s co-production and co-financing deal with Warner Bros. Toho will distribute the film in Japan."

"Godzilla" is coming back -- this time, with Legendary Pictures taking the lead, co-producing and co-financing with Warner Bros. for release in 2012.

Legendary announced Monday it had obtained rights to the iconic monster character from Japan's Toho Co., which has overseen more than 25 "Godzilla" films. Toho will release the pic in Japan.

Legendary said it's planning to announce a director shortly.

In addition to Legendary, producers on the new film will be Dan Lin, Roy Lee and Brian Rogers. Yoshimitsu Banno, Kenji Okuhira and Doug Davison will exec produce.

"Godzilla is one of the world's most powerful pop culture icons, and we at Legendary are thrilled to be able to create a modern epic based on this long-loved Toho franchise," said Thomas Tull, Chairman and CEO of Legendary. "Our plans are to produce the Godzilla that we, as fans, would want to see. We intend to do justice to those essential elements that have allowed this character to remain as pop-culturally relevant for as long as it has."

Legendary noted the film will fall under its co-production and co-financing deal with Warner Bros. Legendary's productions with Warners have included "The Dark Knight," "300" and "The Hangover."

Speculation about a new "Godzilla" has been active since last summer. The Bloody Disgusting web site reported in August that the project was in development.