With the Big Wow Comicfest 2014 and the new “Godzilla” movie converging on the same weekend, it was no surprise that special screenings were held at the Camera 12 Cinemas. Special guest appearances included Kenpachiro Satsuma (Godzilla 1984-1995), Bin Furuya (Ultraman) and Daisuke Ban (Kikaidia & Inazuman) from Japan, and introductions by author August Ragone, who became the teenaged Japanese film and Godzilla expert to Bob Wilkin’s “Creature Features” and “Captain Cosmic” TV shows in the 1970’s.
My friend and I went to the Friday night showing. Surprisingly, it was in theater 12. Last year we saw a special showing of “Star Trek Into The Darkness” at the AMC Cupertino Square with an enthusiastic crowd (i.e., screaming, shouting and hollering), and at the Camera 12 with a less enthusiastic crowd (i.e., deader than zombies) during a Saturday afternoon break from the comficfest. A huge difference. The Godzilla crowd that night was enthusiastic. One guy who stood in line behind us had seen the new Godzilla movie three times already, showing pictures of his expensive Godzilla toy collection on his cellphone, and swapping stories about past Godzilla movies with my friend.
Ragone welcomed everyone to the special Big Wow screening and introduced his Japanese guests. Satsuma asked everyone to stand up to go through the motions of being Godzilla without the rubber suit. Furuya had everyone do the signature hand-and-arm gestures of Ultraman. They didn’t stay for the Friday night showing, as they just arrived straight from the San Jose International Airport from Japan. They did see the Saturday night showing. At the Sunday morning Godzilla panel, Ragone reported that Satsuma gave his approval to the new Godzilla movie with a hearty chuckle (unlike the Chicago showing of the Godzilla 1998 movie which he didn’t approve at all).
As for the movie itself, it was a lot better than I expected. I feared that the new movie would follow Godzilla 1954 too closely, revealing all of Godzilla only until the last 18 minutes of the movie. Hints of Godzilla as a force of nature from the World War II atomic bombings of Japan to the Cold War nuclear tests in the South Pacific to a nuclear power plant disaster in Japan got sprinkled liberally throughout the first half of the new movie. When the new monsters make their full appearances in the second half, Godzilla wasn’t far behind them to kick some monster ass in the San Francisco Bay Area. This being a Silicon Valley audience, we hooted and hollered at many familiar landmarks.
My friend and I skipped the “Creature Features” presentation of “Night of The Living Dead” with former host John Stanley and the Saturday night showing of Godzilla. (We saw “Horror Express” with Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Telly Savalas at last year’s “Creature Features” presentation.) Driving over to Century Theatre at Pacific Commons in Fremont, we saw Godzilla on the larger XD screen in Dolby Atmos surround sound. I saw more details and heard more sounds at this theater than I did at the Camera 12. A better viewing experience for an awesome Godzilla movie.