Remember how we hoped that this time a Western (not the film, the geography) director would get Godzilla right this time? That we could bypass the stain placed on the franchise by Roland Emmerich?
(Director Gareth) Edwards then made a brief appearance on stage, in order to describe the thinking behind his take on the famous movie monster. “There’s nothing sci-fi,” he says about the film’s approach. “It’s very grounded and realistic. What would it be like if this all really happened?”
So many reactions, ranging from “facepalm” to “headdesk”.
That was Edwards speaking at Comic-Con (whose trailer has somehow STILL not hit the internet to my knowledge), as reported by website Total Film. I didn’t hear about this until recently when someone on Twitter linked to this posting at Coming Soon. There are reasons this won’t work.
The first is that there isn’t going to be anything “sci-fi” about the approach. Godzilla IS a science fiction concept. A giant monster born of atomic bomb tests that breathes nuclear fire. What isn’t “sci-fi” about this? You can’t stay true to the origin WITHOUT being “sci-fi”. “What would it be like if it really happened?”, you ask. I think the original movie did that, which leads to the “grounded and realistic” part. The original Godzilla, which you know I am a fan of, is an excellent movie. It showed the realism of a giant monster destroying as much of Japan as it can. Or maybe Edwards thinks the Oxygen Destroyer is “too sci-fi”.
Look, I love the first film. I immediately ordered the Criterion Collection version as soon as I saw it listed. However, I think maybe people are TOO in love with the movie. I know, many directors like to put out a “message” movie to boost their studio cred (it’s like “street cred” for elitist Hollywood snobs) and “no nukes” is popular in that culture, from weapons to power plants. What they don’t realize is that we watch these movies for the monster battles. Whether Godzilla is battling some new superweapon Japan created or another monster, the “sci-fi” is what made the Godzilla movies a franchise. This is one of the many, many, many, many, many things Emmerich forgot with GINO/Zilla. That and trying to make Matthew Broderick into an action hero is a lame idea.
With the exception of Godzilla 1985, every G-Film in last two “eras” of Godzilla movies have recognized this. The “Heisei” era, which started with 1985, went right into creating original monsters before bringing back the classic monsters. The “Millennium” era was almost all reboots (with one exception, forming a two-part MechaGodzilla tale). Each of them ignored all previous G-Movies except for the original. The Heisei movies also ignored every classic/”Showa” film past the original. More proof of an obsession with the original and a distaste for the “kid-friendly” movies that followed. After Ghidorah’s first appearance Godzilla became a protector of Earth, if only because he lived there. These are occasionally campy and if the assault on Adam West/Burt Ward’s version of Batman and Robin are any indication, “campy” is sadly hated. I think I proved in my “Team Godzilla” concept that you can update the “guardian monster” idea.
Folks, the original film is great and deserves at least most of the praise its given. Still, the franchise really is about smashing cities and monsters, not the message of the original, or some environmental theme handled by the Japanese equivalent of an “art house” director or the sins of Japan or anything else that’s been tried to stuff into a Godzilla movie. I’ll probably still see this version, and I may well enjoy it. This doesn’t mean that I’m going to be happy that the Big G isn’t battling aliens, robots, or other giant monsters. This is what made Godzilla as popular as it is, and if this does spawn a US-produced franchise they would do well to remember that.
Just don’t break out Ghidorah until you break out a few other monsters first.