I remember when the first trailer for the film Cloverfield began previewing in theaters. No one knew what was going on, just that then unknown actor TJ Miller would be guiding us through one hell of a journey through an apocalyptic cityscape. And by God it was intense: out running a giant monster’s sweeping tail, jumping between fallen sky scrapers, dodging missile fire and more. It was quite a decent hit when it came out and found a general acceptance in pop culture (my favorite being the 2 part South Park episode dedicated to parodying it). A few years later, Pacific Rim and Godzilla 2014 were released to a generally positive consensus and managed to make enough money to warrant sequels. Now with Kong: Skull Island and Shin Godzilla making bank, one has to wonder if we are seeing a massive comeback of kaiju films. In my mind,we are on the brink of a revival of mainstream interest in monster movies. I mean, just look at all of the properties of the past few years as well as the promises of what are to come:
Jurassic World (And Jurassic World 2)
Godzilla (2014) (and Godzilla King of Monsters)
Kong: Skull Island
Power Rangers (2017)
Pacific Rim (and Pacific Rim Uprising)
Godzilla vs Kong (2020)
So why are we seeing a rise in more giant monster movies? Simple: the cost of special effects and making movies in general has greatly decreased. You know how I was talking about the breath taking moments of Cloverfield earlier? Well, you’d be shocked to find out that it only cost $25 million to make back in 2008! And having rewatched it a few days ago, I can say that the visuals (as well as the story) hold up incredibly wel. Arguably, you didn’t get to see much of the creature in that or many other kaiju films, but I am starting to see a change in that. The best example of that is with Kong: Skull Island where monsters were not only more of the main focus but were given plenty of scenes of proper set up for a breathtaking final battle. Effects can only get cheaper and sooner or later we are going to see an influx of filmmakers who grew up on this type of material try their hand at it in a big way like Nolan with the Dark Knight Trilogy.
Speaking of directors, just look at the individuals responsible for the newest additions to the giant monster franchise in America: Jordan Voght-Roberts, Gareth Edwards,Guillermo Del Toro and Peter Jackson (among others)! Each of these individuals have their own perspectives on the giant monster genre that show the range of these types of movies: personal dramas, natural disasters, throwback films and so on. In my mind, that is the final major element of why these movies are making a comeback: people are realizing that these types of films can be rather diverse in the stories that they tell. There are also other mediums such as animation or comics that allow creators to try out radical ideas before bringing them forth into live action. Best example of this is with the television show Neon Genesis Evangelion which became a stepping stone for not only more giant robot shows but for a creative mind to get his hand on Godzilla to make arguably the King of the Monster’s best film yet: Shin Godzilla.
I hope we see a ton more giant monster movies. They are just so damn entertaining and accessible for a large audience with endless story telling possibilities. Here’s to many more years of giant creatures reminding us of how little we are in exhilarating fashion. Do you have any films your excited for or think should get a modern day retelling? Comment below and get the discussion going. I’ve been Superguy, and you’ve been awesome!