If you told me four years ago that in 2014, one of the biggest and most anticipated new releases would be “Godzilla” I would not have bought it for a second.
After the abomination that was “Godzilla: Final Wars” which was supposed to celebrate fifty years of everyone’s favorite giant fire-breathing reptile, Toho Studios decided to take a long break from everything giant monster related. In the ensuing years, it seemed like interest in giant monsters was dying, especially with films like “Cloverfield” only doing lukewarm at the box office and even worse with critics.
Thanks to the success of “Pacific Rim” for revitalizing the genre, it seems like daikaiju films can still entertain an audience with their awe-inspiring size and scope. I feel that one of the biggest appeals of the genre is that everything feels so much bigger, especially compared to us. Everything we hold and cherish is tiny compared to what is out there and we are in danger of being destroyed by these behemoths.
This was the selling point of “Godzilla” from 1954 and the ensuing franchise would keep that feeling of inferiority by scope, which would partially explain why Godzilla has survived for so long.
So, it only feels natural that, with the revival of the giant monster genre, one of the first monsters they attempt to bring back is the King. With the film being helmed by Gareth Edwards and starring Aaron-Tyler Johnson (“Kick Ass”), Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe (“Inception”) and Bryan Cranston (Walter “The Danger” White from “Breaking Bad”), this is “Godzilla.”
I will admit, when I first heard about who would be directing, I had my reservations against the film. For one, after the last time Hollywood attempted to handle Godzilla in 1998, that only led to disappointment and disgust. The film had more to do with “Jurassic Park” than it did with any previous Godzilla film.
When news came out that Gareth Edwards would direct “Godzilla,” I was skeptical to say the least. At this time, Edwards has only directed one other movie, a low-budget indie project called “Monsters” which was met with mixed reviews. To go from being an independent filmmaker to piloting a massive Hollywood production with some of the biggest actors in the business seems like it could be too much for Edwards.
In a business like filmmaking, it is entirely possible for someone like Gareth Edwards to blow us all away and turn out something that can impress us all. That is not out of the realm of possibility, and based off of what has been shown so far, this seems like a step in the right direction.
I usually reserve judgment of a film until I either see it in its entirety, or when a full-length trailer is released. Since we now have a trailer, I think it is safe to give some thoughts on what we now know.
One thing I’ve enjoyed about what has been shown is how utterly massive they are making Godzilla out to be. According to some posters, this Godzilla is twice the size of the Trans-American Building in San Francisco. We have yet to see a full shot of Godzilla’s face and most of his frame has been kept in shadow. It is reminiscent of “Jaws” by concealing the shark in shadow, only showing the destruction he has caused and his point of view as he rips other living creatures apart.
Then again, the original 1954 “Godzilla” did that 21 years before “Jaws” did, so this could just be a throwback to the older films.
Speaking of those films, this new one seems to be paying as much homage as possible to them, in particular the original Godzilla. In that film, Godzilla was not just some force of nature, but an allegory for the atomic bomb. The two have much in common: They will strike without warning, they both show no mercy, they are quick and efficient. Worst of all, they are both unstoppable. You can’t fight it and if you try to do so, you’ve already lost.
The only thing you can do: run. Run as fast as you can. Yet the thing about both of these creatures, even if you are able to run, you probably won’t be fast enough.
This film is making Godzilla out to be in the same vein as the 1954 version. From Bryan Cranston’s narration talking about how this isn’t a natural disaster to witnessing Godzilla rise out of the water, literally causing battleships to be pushed aside. Those are the moments that have stuck with me from watching the trailer.
I also find their choice of music quite fascinating. The only distinguishable piece from the trailer is a choir wailing, as if something majestic yet terrifying is coming. Some people will recognize this piece of music from “2001: A Space Odyssey” any time the monolith was attempting to communicate with humankind.
In “2001” this music was used to signify the next step in human evolution. It was used as apes discovered how to use tools, as well as what led us to create a giant spaceship that would be used to travel to Jupiter.
So what does this mean for “Godzilla”?
Well, I think it is partially being used because it is a creepy piece of music, but also to signify our evolution, much like it was used in “2001.” In particular, our evolution of weapons. If Godzilla is still an allegory for the atomic bomb, then after thousands of years of creating the perfect device to kill other creatures, we have perfected that device with the atomic and hydrogen bomb.
Godzilla takes that one step further, by doing exactly what the bomb was designed to do: Wipe out all living things. Godzilla is the final step in our evolution to creating the perfect weapon.
That is what I was able to get out of the trailer at least. There are many more things that are still up in the air and are being kept mysterious, including our plans to stop Godzilla, what they mean by trying to stop Godzilla with atomic bombs back in the 1950s and whether there is going to be another monster to fight Godzilla.
Some promotional information and previous teaser trailers have been indicating that a monster of some sort will fight Godzilla, but whether it will be a monster from the previous films or a new monster remains unknown. Some information is making it out to be an insectoid-like monster, so it could be Kumonga, Kamacuras, Megalon, Megaguirus or even Mothra.
The question I have been asking myself about “Godzilla” is not if I will go see it or not. I had every intention of seeing this film upon its release. I will be the first in line to see this film, no matter what. What I have been asking is whether this will make me want to see more Godzilla films again?
After how bad previous films like “Godzilla: Final Wars” and the 1998 American film were, I wanted to see filmmakers take Godzilla in a different and better direction. The early Godzilla films were so much fun to watch because each one tried something fairly different. As the series wore on, the became tedious and repetitive, and therefore become boring and not worth mentioning. The last truly good Godzilla film was “Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack” in 2001, which took a more mystical and fantasy approach to the idea of Godzilla.
I want to see Gareth Edwards do something like with “Godzilla.” Don’t just pay homage to the films that came before you. Try something that has never been done before with Godzilla. Give your film its own unique flavor.
Above all else, treat the King of the Monsters with respect and grace. If you do that, I will love this film.