The King Returns!
15 years ago, Tri-star and Sony brought us the American Godzilla starring Matthew Broderick and directed by Ronald Emmerich. That movie left a bad taste in peoples' mouths. Fan sentiment was pretty much the same; "That was a cool monster, but that wasn't Godzilla."
Now, after the release of Pacific Rim, about giant kaiju and robots in mortal combat, and after some very exciting things were revealed at San Diego's Comic-con, people are starting to get excited about Legendary Pictures Godzilla reboot next year. I've been following the development of this story from the start, and this Godzilla will be different. I predict this will be one of the biggest movies next year. Here are the top 5 reasons Godzilla 2014 will be a monster hit.
1. The Director--Gareth Edwards. The virtually unknown Monsters director made a very small movie about alien invaders that made a big splash and turned heads in Hollywood. The soft-spoken, British director understands how to make a good monster movie. First of all, he's a big Godzilla fan. Second, he knows that with any monster movie, you have to start with the human story. You develop the characters and get to know and care for them. You allude to the monsters, but only show fleeting glimpses that create an atmosphere of fear and builds suspense. When the monsters do appear and do battle, you are more engaged because of the strong character narrative. Godzilla will be a special effects extravaganza, but Edwards knows how to use them effectively, sometimes sparingly to tell the story.
In interview, Edwards said that no matter what scene they were shooting, whether there was a monster in it or not, they always tried to tell the story from an emotional point of view. Then when they went back to add the special effects, "‘I completely forgot there’s a whole other layer to this!’ We have been painstakingly worrying about the characters and their journey and on top of that is this spectacle embedded in the whole film – and it makes you feel really good.”
2. The Studio--In March 2010, Legendary Pictures and partner Warner Bros. jointly announced that they were developing a new Godzilla reboot picture. This is the same collaboration that created such great films as, The Dark Knight, 300, and Inception. Thomas Tull, chairman and CEO of Legendary Pictures said,
“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…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."
They were also keen to distance themselves from the mistakes of the past Godzilla film and they've been developing this project carefully for the past 4 years and the time is ripe for the return of the king.
3. The Story/Script-- For a monster movie, Godzilla's script comes with quite a pedigree, being penned by some of the best screenwriters in the business. David Goyer(Batman Begins, Man of Steel, Superman vs. Batman) wrote the original story idea. Later Max Borenstein(Seventh Son) wrote the main script. Finally, David Pearce((Iron Man 3) and Frank Darabont(Shawshank Redemption, Walking Dead) added a little polish. Darabont especially is known for writing characters and stories with emotional depth. The result is an emotionally charged, character driven story about humans trying to survive in a world of giant monsters.
Here's the official plot synopsis from Legendary Pictures:
"An epic rebirth to Toho's iconic Godzilla, this spectacular adventure, from Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, pits the world's most famous monster against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity's scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence."
Just as in the original Gojira(1954), Legendary's Godzilla will have a somber tone and serious subtext. Unlike Pacific Rim, where the monsters are merely aliens from someplace else, and our technology is used to defend us, Godzilla was created by us and our misuse of technology. Godzilla will still have a nuclear theme, but in a more modern way.
On the other hand, there will be plenty of action and monster battles. We know from photos on set, that Godzilla destroys an aircraft carrier, giant monsters attack Waikiki Beach, and the climactic battle takes place in San Fransisco. At the Comic-con, there was a teaser trailer(not shown to the general public) with a scene from the movie where Godzilla fights a spider-like monster at an airport. An Attendee later sketched a drawing of the monster and posted it online.
4. The Cast--When planning Godzilla, director Gareth Edwards wrote down a list of his 'dream cast' and it's said that he got everyone on his list. The story will focus on the movies three main characters, Lieutenant Ford played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson(Kick-Ass, Kick-Ass 2,), his nurse wife played by Elizabeth Olsen(Martha Marcy May Marlene) and his stepfather scientist played by Bryan Cranston(Breaking Bad). In addition, there is an international supporting cast, Ken Watanabe, Juliette Binoche, and Sally Hawkins. These are some pretty heavy hitters with great acting credentials. There sure to deliver wonderful performances in an emotional story.
5. The Monster--Whereas the 1998 Tri-star monster was a complete departure from the traditional design, looking like a giant, mutated iguana, Legendary has made good on their commitment to stay true to the original character. We now this because we've seen very close to the final design. The Comic-con's Godzilla Encounter exhibit displayed earlier concept sculptures and a short, up-close encounter video of Godzilla seen from a window. It looks like Godzilla. It's a bipedal creature with dorsal plates, a tapering neck, and small head with red, feral eyes. Later, a promotional poster in Brazil showed Godzilla's face. And at an estimated 120-150 meters(394-492 feet) tall, this is the biggest Godzilla ever. We can rest assured that this monster will be original, but recognizable as the king of the monsters.
So, there you have it. This will be a Godzilla movie that remains faithful to the original character, has an emotional, character driven story with great special effects and a stellar cast of performers. Legendary really has a winner on their hands. We are seeing the beginning of a whole new golden age of kaiju movies, now from American fans of Japan's most beloved and recognizable star.