I always say, the more footage a studio is willing to show off, the better they think the film is (and obviously, the reverse is true, like when a rep cancelled midnight screenings of Vampire Academy just so critics couldn’t get reviews up by opening day). So it was a good sign this week when Warner Bros invited critics to see 13 minutes of new footage from Godzilla, which doesn’t open until May 16th, with a video introduction by Gareth Edwards.
Nonetheless, despite all the fanboy boners for this one following the trailer release, I was unconvinced. Between Pacific Rim and pretty much every Godzilla movie since the seventies (especially that one with P. Diddy grunting to “Kashmir” on the soundtrack), I’ve come to expect monster movies to be wildly disappointing, once the LOOK HOW BIG IT IS! reaction wears off.
Then I saw 13 minutes of Godzilla (2014) and my initial reaction is… LOOK HOW BIG IT IS! I realize you can’t judge a film from 13 minutes of footage, but one thing I can tell you is that Godzilla does scale really, really well. I’m saying Godzilla is really scale-y (I humbly ask God forgiveness for this terrible pun).
Whereas Pacific Rim negated the scale of its own characters by putting them next to other equally big things and just making all the people look like ants while filming two hours of CGI windows smashing in the rain at night while an obnoxious score played (a common action movie problem I’ve written about here), Godzilla has enough negative space in the sound mix that the sounds that are there actually mean something. And it keeps the perspective small, from a person’s eye view. That way, Godzilla actually looks… you know… big. It’s not rocket science.
IT’S MONSTER SCIENCE! (*shreds guitar solo*)
In any case, without giving away too much of the plot, it looks like we’re going to get a nice slow build up to monster destruction, so that when it hits, you actually feel it. While we mostly saw just a couple of action set pieces, it’s clear that Gareth Edwards (above left – he’s British) is good at staging them. There’s a clever, creative focus on all the little details. Like in Jurassic Park, the memorable scenes aren’t the giant dinosaur eating cars and stomping things, it’s the ripples in a water cup, the dilation of a pupil. Edwards appears equally skilled at focusing on those kinds of details – the wave Godzilla produces when he moves through the water, what the wave looks like when it’s passing under a battleship or crashing into the shore. He finds small, clever ways to communicate basically the same thing: GODZILLA REAL BIG DOE.
Not to mention that the cast includes Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, my girlfriend Elizabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, and David Straithairn, so that when they shout things like “LOOK OUT!” and “LET’S GET OUT OF HERE!” they’ll have the acting chops to make me truly believe. That’s important in a movie about a giant lizard.
Oh, and while Andy Serkis is listed in the IMDB credits as Godzilla, he only consulted once production was already finished. Long story short, I would surely pay to see Godzilla, but I would pay at least triple that to see Andy Serkis and Benedict Cumberbatch (Smaug) wearing mo-cap jumpsuits fake fight while pretending to be dragons. Please, someone Kickstart that.