When we first heard about the Godzilla reboot, we were reserved our judgment of the movie because of the deep scars Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla left on our minds. But the more we hear about the project, and director Gareth Edwards’ vision for the new film, we’ve started to think this might be something special rather than just another cash-in summer blockbuster. While we have a whole year to wait until the new Godzilla movie stomps into theaters, Edwards has shed some light on his approach to the classic source material.
Godzilla really seems like a passion project for Edwards, as he has fully immersed himself in the original Japanese mythology of the giant monster movie. In an interview with Screen Rant, Edwards talks about how he’s trying to make Godzilla realistic, while at the same time paying tribute to the original 1954 film. Edwards revealed that, after trying again and again to redesign the iconic monster, he finally settled on the perfect design. What’s more, original Godzilla producers Toho actually had a hand in the approval process. Edwards explains:
In a way we approached it was, imagine in 1954 (when the first Godzilla movie was made), that this creature really existed and someone saw him from Toho, the Japanese studio, and went running back to the studio and said, ‘I’ve seen this creature and it kind of looked like this.’ And they tried to draw it and they tried to make a suit and they did a very good job of it but then, when you saw the real creature, you go ‘Okay, I totally understand how you got that suit from that creature but now I see the real thing. Oh my God, I totally believe that it’s completely real.’ And that’s how we approached it. We went through hundreds of designs, and never stopped playing really until the last minute and got to the point where it was like, ‘Is there anything else that we want to change about this design’? And I was like, personally no, I’m very happy with it. And Toho was very much a part of the approval process. So it’s a Toho approved design as well.
Although Edwards only has one film under his belt, it seems as if Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures chose him to direct the new Godzilla film because of his approach to balancing a monster story against genuine human emotion, as he did with his first full-length feature film, 2010’s Monsters). Telling the story of two people trying to get back into America from Mexico, Monsters was set after a satellite crash that seeded the area south of the border with strange alien life, resulting in a strict quarantine of the zone. Monsters didn’t rely heavily on CGI or spectacle, but rather focused on the characters’ journey. Edwards continues:
I think the trick is not to think of the special effects or anything – and just think that this is really happening and there are giant monsters. Ask, ‘What would be the best story to tell that always involves humans?’ I don’t separate the two in my mind. You just picture the movie. What was so refreshing was that we would shoot scenes that sometimes had the creature in it and sometimes didn’t, but we would desperately try to make it work from an emotional point of view. Then, in the evenings, I would go to review things with the effects companies who are starting to put the visual effects in, and you’re like, ‘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.
It seems as if genre fans are anxious to see the new Godzilla after Guillermo del Toro’s epic Pacific Rim. What separates Godzilla from Pacific Rim is the name recognition attached to the king of monsters, as well as a seemingly different approach and tone. Hopefully, Godzilla will perform better than Pacific Rim at the box office when it’s released next year.
Godzilla features an world-class cast including Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elisabeth Olsen, Ken Watanabe, Juliette Binoche, David Strathairn, Bryan Cranston, and Sally Hawkins, with original Godzilla actor Akira Takarada putting in a special cameo appearance. The Godzilla screenplay has seen its fair share of rewrites, passes, and polishes in Hollywood from screenwriters Max Borenstein, Drew Pearce, David S. Goyer, David Callaham, and former Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont, who revised the final version of the screenplay.
Godzilla will roar into theaters everywhere on May 16, 2014, in 3D and IMAX.