Written By: Ken Hulsey
Sources: Gaijin Pot / Avery Guerra
The tireless monster maven Avery Guerra just turned me on to a great article about "Godzilla Final Wars" director Ryuhei Kitamura, in which he talks in depth about his love of the "G" films from the 1970s, especially "Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla" and one of it's monsters, King Caesar, his experiences making the film, plus his desire to take another crack at the "King of Monsters" or another kaiju related film project.
In the article, Kitamura, who is best known for his action films, like "Azumi" and "Versus", states that "Final Wars" was the last Japanese monster movie to be made in the traditional way, aka a man in a monster suit filmed against a miniature set. From those statements I can only assume that the film maker hasn't been paying to much attention to either Japanese cinema or television as of late, because post "GFW" there have been plenty of kaiju films and TV series made with men in monster suits and miniatures, including "Long-Haired Giant Monster: Gehara" (2009), "Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit!" (2008), "Deep Sea Monster Raiga" (2009), "Death Kappa" (2010) and "Daimajin Kannon" (2010)(TV Series). Not to mention the "Ultraman" movies and television series which have been made over the past few years as well. So don't let Kitamura's statements fool you, kaiju cinema is still very much alive and well in Japan.
What many fans will find interesting is the film maker's statements about wanting to make another monster film. Some may read into those words that Kitamura may be in line to helm the next Japanese "Godzilla" film in 2014, or even possibly the new american "Godzilla" movie (Legendary Pictures, 2012), though he makes no references to either, just that he would like to take a crack at another monster film in the future.
Here is an excerpt from the article about "Godzilla" from Gaijin Pot:
Just over five years ago Kitamura had wrapped up the final installment in Japan’s longest, most misunderstood cinematic franchise, when he helmed Godzilla: Final Wars in 2004.
It was somehow equally appropriate that Kitamura’s style and intent on the finale was equally misunderstood in some quarters. The critical reaction was a startlingly mixed bag, as reflected in the movies 50% rating on rottentomatoes.com, with some calling it ‘A rush of explosive excitement’ (Cinefantastique) and others claiming it focused too much on action and not enough on story (Boston Globe).
Personally I loved everything about Final Wars – it was all too apparent that it’d been made by a fellow old-school aficionado of the humble kaiju (Japanese monster) movie. Kitamura himself recalls the experience with obvious relish. “It was great!” he enthuses. “I mean, it was Godzilla. It was the 50th anniversary. And it was the final movie. Who could say no? It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I had a great time making it and am very proud of the movie. I even decided to use the old fashioned man-in-rubber-suits style and it was pure fun – think big explosions and motorcycle chases, and I even got to shoot a few scenes in Sydney, where I’d learned film making in the first place. Lots of great memories.”
Final Wars was the 28th Godzilla movie – so it’s pertinent to know whether or not the director sat through all the previous 27 films before shooting his own. “Yeah, I did,” Kitamura confirms. “In fact I loved the Godzilla movies back in the ’70s, but not so much the ones released in the 1980s and ’90s. Godzilla movies back in the ’70s were never just monster movies… There were always messages and themes that reflected the time and world within which they were made, and they combined this so well with straight-out entertainment. They lost that touch in the ’80s. I’m an honest guy and that’s what I told the producer in the first meeting. Strangely, the producer liked what I said and I was hired to do something that was not only new, but also classic in a sense.” So is the kaiju movie still alive and well in Japan in 2010? “I don’t think so.
These days, Japanese film studios are only interested in making dramas based on novels, manga or another TV series. Nobody wants to do expensive, old-fashioned kaiju movies. For me, the beauty of the kaiju movie is the retro man-in-rubber-suits style, not CG; it has more soul. Godzilla: Final Wars was the last movie made in that style. I’d be more than happy to revive the tradition in the future and do a new kaiju movie.”
Kitamura has previously let it be known that his favourite kaiju character is King Caesar, who first appeared in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla in 1974 – then reappeared 30 years later in Final Wars. “I simply love that original Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla movie,” says the director. “The moment King Caesar wakes up is my favourite moment in all of the Godzilla movies. It was so hard to choose which monsters would be in Final Wars – everybody has their favourite, and unfortunately we couldn’t put them all in. So some tough choices had to be made.”
Read The Rest Of The Article
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