Today, for the first time in a while, there is a Godzilla movie shooting somewhere in the world.
I can’t believe it was 2004 when I wrote about the Hollywood premiere of “Godzilla: Final Wars.” At the time, Toho was experiencing some kaiju fatigue, and they declared that they were finished. They’ve actually stuck true to their word in the years since, and as a result, Godzilla has been absent from the bigscreen for the better part of a decade now.
Considering what an important overall cultural icon he is, it’s sort of amazing they’ve been willing to keep him off-screen for this long. Toho considers him one of the most important assets they own as a studio, and the decision to allow Hollywood to take another crack at the character could not have been an easy one for them.
This has been a long and careful process for Legendary Pictures, too. They know how badly things went with the Devlin/Emmerich version, and they seem to understand what some of the most pronounced mistakes were with that film. But knowing what’s wrong and fixing what was wrong are two different things, and Legendary has been moving slowly during pre-production on this because they didn’t want to screw it up a second time.
It seems weird to think that you could screw up a Godzilla movie, but of course you can. It’s often the stuff that seems easiest that turns out to be difficult to execute, and I think the previous American “Godzilla” was a great example of how wrong it can go. Last year, Legendary and Warner premiered the first special teaser that was created for the film during Comic-Con, and we were impressed by what we saw. It was moody and smart and looked genuinely scary, and that seems like a huge change from the way most people think about the character and the series.
If you didn’t see the footage they showed, it was obvious that they are aiming for something very different than what must people think of as Godzilla. This looks like it’s trying to make Godzilla a genuine threat again, and Gareth Edwards seems to me like an inspired choice to kickstart the franchise again. And make no mistake… if this works, Legendary will definitely make sequels with Warner Bros. This is an important property for them.
Edwards, who is so far only known for the micro-budget “Monsters,” today posted a greeting from the set, where production has finally begun. It’s short, but it is actual proof that they are making the film.
I’m curious to see if they embrace the internet as a way of getting out the message that this not going to be just like every other giant monster movie. If they manage to make the human story as compelling as the mayhem, they could have something really special here. In the meantime, I’ll be satisfying my giant monster jones this summer with Guillermo Del Toro’s “Pacific Rim.” It’s a good time to be a kaiju fan, young or old.
“Godzilla” is set for release May 16, 2014.