10 things you need to know about Godzilla

A Godzilla fan looks at a 1-metre tall statue at a Godzilla art exhibition in Tokyo on May 2, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
A Godzilla fan looks at a 1-metre tall statue at a Godzilla art exhibition in Tokyo on May 2, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

The mother of all monsters - Godzilla - was in the news recently, and not just because there is a Hollywood remake of the classic Japanese creature coming soon.

The Japanese were apparently none too impressed with the latest iteration of Godzilla, calling it "fat", a "calorie monster", and having "eaten too many hamburgers".

Whether or not the thumbs down from Godzilla's home country will hit its box office sales remains to be seen. If you are going to watch the movie, which opens in Singapore on May 15, here are 10 things you need to know about the most iconic of kaijus.

1) Godzilla first appeared in a self-titled film in 1954. The name is derived from the Japanese root words gorira (gorilla) and kujira (whale).

2) Since its debut, Godzilla has become one of Japan's most globally recognised and prolific cultural exports, spawning more than 25 films, TV shows, comics and video games. Here's a video of the XBox game Godzilla: Destroy All Monster Melee, a fighting game where players duke it out as different monsters, released in 2003.

3) The upcoming Godzilla film is not the kajiu's first visit to Hollywood. An earlier version in by disaster film director Roland Emmerich (The Day After Tomorrow, 2012) was released in 1998 and starred Jean Reno (The Professional).

4) The monster was first portrayed by actor in a latex suit, before moving on to more sophistacted depictions through moving machines designed like Godzilla, stop-motion capture and later computer generated graphics. Watch until the end of the clip to see the man emerge from the costume.

5) What is Godzilla's origin? Details have varied over the years but it is usually a dormant, giant sea monster that is unleashed by nuclear energy. When Godzilla made its debut in 1954, the scars of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were still very raw and Godzilla's ties to nuclear power played on those feelings.

6) Is Godzilla good or bad? Well, it regularly destroys human lives and property without pause. Yet it doesn't eat people and has battled other monsters, seemingly defending humanity against even worse evils out there. Then again, it could have very well been fighting for its own survival. The jury is still out on this one.

7) Which brings us to the monster battles, surely the highlight of many a Godzilla film. It's fought flying creatures, sea monsters and even a cyborg version of itself.

8) The ubiquity of the monster must have stretched the creative team behind it considerably, such that it turned to crossover media to find new foes for Godzilla. Here he is fighting King Kong.

9) Godzilla's so big it's even got its own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

10) Godzilla's list of powers are constantly evolving. The first film featured good old fashioned brawling but he took on new abilities as more films came along. Before long, he could emit eye beams, fireballs, and could even fly!

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