They Were Trying To Kill It (Part 1) – Godzilla 2014

25 06 2014

Godzilla 2014 Poster

Back in 2010 when I was researching the Godzilla franchise on Wikipedia, I found a piece of very interesting information. Back in 2004 I remembered that it was announced that there would be no more Godzilla films after the release of Godzilla: Final Wars for a period of 10 years, just to give it a break and renew interest. It is hard though to keep an icon down. In 2008 I remembered reading about an upcoming film to be released in 2009 which was to be a 3D movie for IMAX cinemas starring the title monster and called Godzilla 3D to the Max. This idea though did not get off the ground. Also in 2008, for the film Always Zoku Sanchōme no Yūhi (Always Sunset on Third Street 2) Godzilla himself makes a brief, but terrific appearance very early on. Then comes 2010. It was announced that Legendary Pictures, the studio behind Inception and The Dark Knight were interested in attaining the American movie rights to Godzilla in the hope of doing a complete reboot of a series that was initially planned around about 1995/1996 that sadly did not really work out by all counts. Well, Legendary were successful and during the time between then and May 2014 had been hard at work with director Gareth Edwards (and several writers including David S. Goyer, Frank Darabont, David Callaham and Max Borenstein) wanting to produce an Americanised Godzilla film which was by all counts faithful to the iconic Giant Force of Nature that has entertained and inspired millions including myself all over the world for nearly 60 years. Well, I can say that they have achieved this in such a way that it is not only a proper Godzilla film, but also one of the best.

G1

The film begins with an opening montage showing reports made by sailors over the centuries of encountering colossal sea monsters. The video then moves to 1954 showing footage of what appears to be giant spines on the surface of the water, like the dorsal fin of a shark. The footage continues to show this but no details as to what it is before concluding with a nuclear bomb detonation. The scene then moves to 1999 where Dr. Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) and his assistant Dr. Graham (Sally Hawkins) investigate a pit at a mine in the Philippines, discovering a giant skeleton and a couple of pods. In Janjira, Japan meanwhile, Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston), a nuclear physicist is examining a set of tremors at a nuclear power plant. Suddenly there is a reactor breach and his wife Sandra (Juliette Binoche) who was in the bowels of the plant is unable to escape and the whole plant collapses. 15 years later, Joe’s son Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), an EOD technician returns home after 14 months away to his son Sam (Carson Bolde) and wife Elle (Elizabeth Olsen). He then gets a call from Japan saying that his father has been arrested again for breaching the quarantine zone.

G2

Ford heads for Japan where his father has become almost a complete crackpot after what happened and Ford tells him to come home. Joe though persuades Ford to help him go back to their old house to retrieve his discs. After this they spot the site of the old plant which appears to be being rebuilt. They are then arrested and taken there. Joe tries to tell the authorities there about who he is and what he thinks is happening, which gains the attention of Serizawa and Graham. Something at the plant then begins to stir and Serizawa orders they kill it, but instead it wakes up. A giant bat like creature which causes a lot of havoc before taking off killing Joe in the process. The military, overseen on the USS Saratoga commanded by Rear Admiral William Stenz (David Strathairn) takes over the operation to track the creature and Ford is briefed by Serizawa that the creature that attacked the plant is called a MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) which is an ancient creature that feeds on nuclear energy. The creature in turn is hunted by a much larger and ancient alpha-predator discovered by a deep-sea exploration in 1954 after the first Nuclear Submarine woke it up. The discovery of this creature led to multiple cover-ups as several nuclear weapon tests in the 1950’s were in fact an attempt at killing it. Serizawa heads up the division known as Monarch whose job it is to track the MUTO’s and possibly this other creature who is named by Serizawa as GODZILLA. Ford tells the team that his father mentioned something about the creature at the plant talking to something. Ford goes to Hawaii to catch a plane back home to San Francisco.

G3

News of a Nuclear Submarine disappearing is reported and a team of marines investigates in an Hawaiian Jungle where they find the Submarine being fed on by the creature. The military sends in fighters but are disabled by an EMP blast from the creature. Reports then come in of a second creature approaching the Island. Serizawa stands on the deck of the carrier and sees three dorsal spines running through the water. On the island, Ford looks after a boy split up from his parents when the lights go out. On the island, the sea regresses as a giant figure makes land. The power returns to the train, but the line is attacked by the MUTO. All of a sudden, the Giant figure appears on the scene in full view; a Giant lizard like creature that lets out a resplendent roar and attacks the MUTO. In San Francisco, Elle sees the footage of this battle live.  The following day Ford returns the boy to his parents at the city is in ruins. He manages to hook up with an army battalion while near Las Vegas, the other MUTO pod from the Philippines, has fed on Nuclear Waste and has escaped. It is determined that his one is a Female which cannot fly and the other a Male. Out at sea, a navy convoy holds a perimeter around the dorsal spines of the creature now confirmed as Godzilla.

G4

A plan is put into place to lure the three creatures together and destroy them despite Serizawa’s objections. Two nuclear missiles are put on board a train which Ford joins, but when inspecting a bridge, the train is attacked and destroyed. The following morning Ford is rescued along with one remaining missile. In San Francisco the city is evacuated with Elle staying behind to help. On the bridge, a convoy of busses witness the arrival of Godzilla from the ocean as the Male MUTO steals the remaining warhead before taking it to the now arrived Female who uses it to make a nest. Elle manages to get into a secure bunker as Godzilla arrives to fight the creatures. Ford joins in a battalion to retrieve the warhead and flies into San Francisco via halo jump witnessing the creature’s titanic battle as he lands. The Battalion run to the nest where they manage to get the nuclear weapon. Ford stays behind briefly to destroy the nest. Godzilla is struggling to take on both MUTO’s but the distraction of the nests destruction gives him enough time to power up, and let out a furious blast of his Atomic Death Ray. Ford and his team return the warhead to a boat but are attacked by the female. The male is killed by Godzilla but a building collapses on him. Ford manages to get the boat into open water but is corned by the female, who, in turn is attacked and killed by Godzilla. Godzilla then seemingly dies upon collapsing in victory. Ford is rescued as the bomb detonates out at sea. Elle is rescued and she, Ford and their son reunite. People scramble on the corpse of Godzilla, which then snorts as it wakes up. Branded as King of the Monsters, Godzilla simply departs and swims out of sight under the calm, still water.

G5

Godzilla is a heart stopping intense film but also a tense thriller with moments of human hardship and questions about the use of nuclear weapons and man’s desire to control the earth any means necessary, particularly nature itself, but more on that later. For now let’s look at the cast. The cast is a mix of a great bunch of characters and actors. Bryan Cranston who from the trailers looks like the lead bloke plays a professional scientist who while knowing his job and believes he is doing the right thing and probably is does face the fierce competition of nay-sayers, but in between that he does show a more human caring side to him, and this is what makes him stay in Japan to work out what is going on at his former job, even if it makes him forget what made him stay there in the first place which strains his relationship with his son. While he may be later on be made to look like a crackpot mad scientist, he does still show his caring side and is now way a joke to those around him or to the screen. It is obvious though that he does have a strained relationship with his son Ford due to the accident and surprising that his attitude to the situation doesn’t help to inspire Ford along all that much and is a shame that their relationship couldn’t be explored further, however it is a good showing of how much family means to someone and how that guilt can quickly ruin someone, particularly if they see it as their fault. Juliette Binoche’s character meanwhile is more of a real parental figure to Ford and has more of an easy-going understanding of everything around her and tries to get the best out of Cranston’s character and tries to make him think more rationally and in many respects is the pivot as to why Cranston is still there.

Bryan Cranston and Juliette Binoche

Ken Watanabe as a scientist is a lot like Dr Yamane (played by Takashi Shimura) in the original film as he has an understanding of such creatures as there are in this film but wants to be able to preserve for the benefit of science yet he is able to distinguish when they are a threat or not. He is a man with a dark past as represented by his pocket watch and finds himself mystified by Godzilla and almost finds himself able to rely on such a creature when he feels that he follows after the Mutos. This mystery about himself allows him to play such a role and while his name in the film is that of the scientist in the 1954 film (played by Akihiko Hirata); Ken Watanabe is playing his part brilliantly and is rather enjoyable, but maybe it should have been more the case that his character should have been called Yamane rather than Serizawa. Sally Hawkins who plays his assistant, shown more so with her calling him Sensei, shares a lot of on-screen time with Watanabe but not enough (more in the sequel perhaps?) I think as the relationship between the two works well and I do feel like she should have more scenes, but for those that she does have, are really enjoyable and brings that needed human side of the scientist when discussing the discovery of the creatures but also in dealing with them and does have a very remorseful side about her.

Ken Watanabe and Sally Hawkins

Carson Bolde plays a very good part and almost has his own backstory in comparison to those around him and while for the most part he is himself quiet he does show a level of emotion during those scenes. I mean for the part of a child they could have just used any old stand in, but Carson shows a level of acting that if nurtured correctly, could lead to more big roles. Richard T Jones is also quite good as Stenz’s second in command and is as rational as his superior by also not underestimating the situation.

Carson Bolde and Richard T Jones

I do find myself really liking the David Strathairn character; Admiral William Stenz (a name which does make me think of Nimitz). What I like about him is that he is not a cowboy, he is in charge of this entire operation after the Janjira incident, and he follows the creatures, even surrounding Godzilla but acts rationally by not attacking. This shows that he is a rational man that also does not underestimate the situation and is in no way gun hoe about the situation and decides to make a plan before actually attacking anything at all. It shows an easier going thinking to a serious idea and like a detective would prefer to know all the facts before doing anything else. He is also understanding of other people’s ideas and history particularly when Serizawa shows him the watch his dad in Hiroshima when the bomb dropped, but instead of laying into Serizawa for not wanting to use the bomb, he takes a more firm and understanding approach showing the world has moved on and there are better understandings of how and when such a weapon is used if at all.

The on-screen relationship between Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen is well done and actually looks like a realistic relationship between the two instead of just a generic one for the sake of it. The need to return to Elle does play on ford’s mind throughout and is his main journey in this film, not to attack the monsters but to return to the one he loves feeding on a primal instinct of love which helps make his character realistic to everything he does throughout making him both believable and creates a connection for the audience, but I can’t help but notice that in the city scenes, when he Collapses, so does Godzilla. This could be a sense of trying to imply what he is going through, Godzilla is too and so that struggle is both shared by Humanity and Nature. So while the film on this part is stating that nature cannot be controlled, there is a human connection to it instead and they are both in and are the same thing, however, why didn’t try to swim away? I do think though that there could have been more drama on his part particularly when his father dies and the scientists say they are sorry. As an audience member it is easier to see but mostly thanks to hindsight that if the authorities did tell Joe what was going on, his death could have been averted and if anyone deserved to know what really happened at the plant 15 years previously, it was the families of those who lost people. So I am surprised that Ford did not lay into them for that, because that’s what your primal urge would want to do, instead he just listens to them quietly instead of trying to get some form of restitution from what’s happened so far. Elizabeth Olsen is one of the best characters in this film by far. Like how Ford wants to get back to her, she is trying to stay in the city for the benefit of waiting for him but also trying to get in contact with him. I really do think there could have been generally more of Olsen throughout this film (which allows room for her in the sequel) those moments that you do see her are some of the best on the human side of the film. While everyone else is looking at the situation from afar for the most part, she is the one who is really experiencing them and allows for all bases in such a film to coexist as well as given an insight to the situation and pay a s ort of homage to those scenes in the Japanese series of people running from the danger. But because those scenes are focused on somebody, it means the audience can connect with someone who is there and feel what the situation is like.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen

Godzilla is beautifully produced and shot. Scenes involving running with humans and general drama scenes for one, but scenes including the halo jump as well as the human interactions with the monsters in the final act are beautifully done and represent very well what it is like being in that kind of situation. Even Janjira looks amazing. The overgrown deserted city which just happens to be there giving the impression of a city like Chernobyl is now and this is accomplished more brilliantly seeing as it doesn’t actually exist. The naval and military scenes show great uses of research as to how certain things would be done in a real life situation and in moments where the real thing could be used rather than a CGI model, like the ships, tanks and planes, they are used brilliantly. The film does actually work well as a thriller on its own when there is no monster in the scene. Take the bridge scene for example when the birds crash into the bus windows. This is almost like a true horror scene as you get the shock of your life only to discover its birds. During the monster scenes themselves great work has gone into close-up shots with the humans including the train bridge scenes and even in the final act. Along with that you have other scenes which plant ideas into your head of signs of the monsters, but don’t see them, and give an idea of how big they are and also what they are very much capable of. But it really comes down to how the monster scenes are done in tandem with the humans.  From the scenes on board with the aircraft carrier with Godzilla’s spines are protruding from the water, to the Hawaii airport when the water comes in around the man’s feet signifying the arrival of something big. It is down to the reactions of people seeing these things that are the true essence of how well such shots are done. Also I like the sense of scale that is shown. When Godzilla is first seen, you don’t see him in full, and even when you see him walking on land for the first time, the shots are restrained to eye level to show the true height and size of the creature and so you may only see arms and feet, and leave the reveal shots for later on when they are needed. Shots such as these and others help to show the human and audiences place in such a situation and allows the remain of a sense of awe altogether.

G6

The film’s soundtrack (produced by Alexandre Desplat) is amazing, and that is the quick way of describing it. The film’s score has elements of mystery, particularly in the Japanese scenes which while having a sense of suspense when the plant is crumbling, but also when Ford and Joe go to investigate. When you get past the opening introduction you have moments of awe from the scene in the Philippines to that of Ford and Joe entering the quarantine zone.  That piece in part is one of the best pieces in the film with moments of big drums signifying something big and catastrophic but not yet sure what and also give a more traditional Asian feel to the music. Other pieces earlier on have moments of a big reveal such as the film going to Janjira followed by a soundtrack that shows the early tension of escaping the power plant. Other pieces later on such as the reveal of the atomic breath, Godzilla’s victory and departure (and his own main theme) have connotations to old American monster movies and give that sense of awe as you gaze and what is happening. Godzilla’s victory piece does have a corny feel about it and feels more attributed to a character like King Kong, but works in the short-term and his departure also which I think helps to correct this, his victory piece though goes into a more sombre bit which relates to the cost and sacrifice endured to achieve victory. The monsters themselves do share quite a bit of the soundtrack too including the MUTO reveals and the moment Godzilla arrives at the Golden Gate Bridge. But sneaked in there is a small little horror piece which is used to great effect in scenes where the soldiers are approaching something, and it can be seen, but not clearly and is more like the calm before the storm, but gets you ready for it.

For me, the best thing about the soundtrack is Godzilla’s theme. While the soundtrack does not carry any themes produced by Akira Ifukube, they have taken great care in producing a soundtrack which works for the title character. You have that mystery there to begin with, just to begin with. Then hallway through, there is this grand scale of notes which reveal some form of terror which builds up inside you. It’s like your eyes have seen something that betrays you and now you’re by the foot of a great terror.

It’s like something relentless is coming to get you, you manage to spot it and your eyes can’t get away from it because it’s just unbelievable and you can’t run, you just can’t. Like a great abomination, like a werewolf or Frankenstein’s Monster, it’s running, rampaging towards you and then you trip trying to run. And it’s got you. Your Heart Stops. What next is up to him?

GENEPOOL (Click Here for Part 2).





Movie Preview – GODZILLA (2014)

9 04 2014

Godzilla (Legendary Pictures - 2014)

Four years, four years of waiting have finally come to a point. What started off as a rumour, then a green light then about two maybe three years’ worth of waiting finally came to a head this past December, and finally we are now on the final stretch. In just over a months’ time, the biggest, film of the year finally arrives. To quote a trailer from 15 years ago –

“HIS POWER IS UNEQUALED, HIS BATTLES ARE LEGENDARY, HIS RETURN IS NEAR”.

Yes it really has been four years of waiting for this film to come out (even though in retrospect it has been 10 years). Since 1998 when the world was, well, blotted by the appearance of a film which was directed by a man who was hot off the presses with a sci-fi film that at the time was the second highest grossing film in history, wanting to do something else but was given another film to do, and did everything wrong; when the name of a certain cultural icon was said it was met by enthusiasm from those who were fans, but then disappointment bursted in when those who spoke that word, meant the above stated 1998 incarnation, and because of this blot on the previously stated cultural icon, it has been a hard life. Now though, things are surely going to be a lot different for many years to come when people say the word Godzilla.

Godzilla 1954 - Present

While I could go into the history of what has happened in the leading up to this, this is a preview not a nostalgia thingy. So, here goes.

Godzilla Beach

Produced by Legendary Pictures in Association with Warner Bros. and of course TOHO. This new Godzilla film is a reboot to the American Godzilla series that was somewhat planned in 1996. Legendary Pictures CEO Thomas Tull has stated many a time that this film is going to be done properly, like what a fan of Godzilla will want to see. Of course the film will do away with the iconic suit-motion for CGI but the design of the creature will follow the design of the iconic TOHO beast. The film is directed by Gareth Edwards whose directorial debut was back in 2010 with Monsters, which afterwards he was given this job. The story is provided by Expendables Writer David Callahan with Max Borenstein putting the flesh and muscles as well as doses of radiation to the story with extra help here and there provided by Batman Begins writer David S. Goyer and The Shawshank Redemption director; Frank Darabont. The story as stated by Legendary Pictures states that the film will be;

“An epic rebirth to Toho’s iconic Godzilla, this spectacular adventure pits the world’s most famous monster against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence”.

In many a way as well as confirmed by the acting and production teams, this film will return to the roots of the original 1954 film, but brought into the present but will honour and respect the important values of the title monster including his connections to the horror as well as the destructive power of nuclear weapons while not forgetting mans desirable idea to control nature but always ultimately failing.

Godzilla 2014 Nuclear

The films cast is made up of an interesting blend of actors including Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins and David Strathairn as well as a planned cameo appearance from Godzilla Veteran Akira Takarada. The films score is being produced by Alexandre Desplat who has worked on The King’s Speech and the last two harry potter films and describes the soundtrack as a “non-stop fortissimo, with lots of brass, Japanese drums, and electric violin”. I wonder if we are going to get some Akira Ifukube music as well?

Bryan Cranston and Aaron Taylor-Johnson

From what has so far been shown via the teasers, this film is going to be unlike any film since possibly Jaws. The trailers tease at the fact that there is something there but rarely show the creature himself. The trailers show a path of destruction sweeping throughout the entire world with connotations from nuclear testing in the 1950’s which leads to that brilliant line from Ken Watanabe’s character (Dr Serizawa, the name of a character from the original 1954 film):

“They were trying to kill it”.

This wave of disaster then erupts with shots from places around the world including a nuclear power plant collapsing, tidal waves and San Francisco on fire. Throughout the trailers also is a soundtrack of something horrifying as well as mysterious meaning that something is leading up to something horrifying, destructive and unstoppable. And that is when we finally see, sometimes just an outline, other times a good glimpse of the BIG G himself with an impressive, if maybe new; almighty roar.

Then there is the other monsters. We know that there is going to be more than one monster. Yes, Godzilla will be fighting two monsters whose identities are still as yet unknown. What we do know, is that they are both being called MUTO’s and neither of them will have any relation (as far as we can tell) to any TOHO Monster. So probably no King Ghidorah………this time. From the trailer though we can see two distinct objects, one in the sky looking like a bird and another which might be a giant spider. And while that does sound like Rodan and Kumonga, I highly doubt that they are.

Kumonga and Rodan

With new information and mini trailer snippets now becoming more and more common, we know that the film is only weeks away now. From everything that has been reported and shown to this date, it is clear that this is a film that cannot go past anyone’s gaze and while there is still the uncertainty of whether or not this film might just go as a repeat to the 1998 incident, there is one thing we can be sure of, that Legendary are doing it properly, even the title character looks like his Japanese Ancestor.

2014 Monster

GODZILLA IS BACK.

GENEPOOL





Godzilla News – Filming Has Begun

27 03 2013

Godzilla 2014 (Legendary Pictures - 2014)

It has been some time since I last posted up some news on the upcoming Legendary Pictures Godzilla Film. Well now I bring Great News, Filming has started.

The cast for the film is looking very strong with stars such as Bryan Cranston, Aaron Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen and David Strathairn. The first person I heard who was hired to star in the film was Elizabeth Olsen who announced it at the 2013 Bafta’s. Also joining the mix is Ken Watanabe. The introduction of Watanabe to the cast brings some Japanese acting to the film, something that was missing from the 1998 film. But Watanabe may not be the only person from Japan to star in the upcoming film as Godzilla veteran Akira Takarada is apparently interested. Takarada has starred alongside the big lizard on 6 occasions including the most recent film Godzilla Final Wars as well as the original 1954 Godzilla Film. A Facebook group has been setup to show their support for this possibility and while I would like to see Akira Nakao make an appearance, the inclusion of Takarada would be a Great Tribute to the series, the Original 1954 film and possibly for the many actors who have appeared in the series.

Akira Takarada and Akira Nakao

The filming schedule is apparently supposed to last from March to June, which for a film of its scale is not bad and that gives the production team 11 months to get it ready from the film’s end of filming until the films release in May 2014. Filming for the film has begun in Vancouver around Nanaimo. Apparently the filming is pumping about $100,000 into the local economy every day.

It also looks like that most/all of the extras will be real and not CGI which brings added realism to the film. It too has been reported that there will be 2 monsters alongside Godzilla in this film which sounds like a possible Monster Fight or two. While there could be some speculation over who could appear alongside the main star. I saw a poster recently which suggests the possibility that Biollante may appear, however the source does state that the poster is fan made; so whoever will be staring alongside Godzilla in the film is still up for speculation.

Biollante 2014

Frank Darabont (The Walking Dead) is doing the script for the film and wants to return the creature to its roots as a terrifying creature. “What we’re trying to do with the new movie is not have it camp, not have it be campy. We’re kind of taking a cool new look at it. But with a lot of tradition in the first film. We want this to be a terrifying force of nature. And what was really cool, for me, is there was a very compelling human drama that I got to weave into it. It’s not that cliched, thinly disguised romance or bromance, or whatever. It’s different, it’s a different set of circumstances than you’re used to seeing. And that’s tremendously exciting as a writer when you’re asked to do something else” – Frank Darabont (information gathered from SKREEONK!).

Bronze Godzilla

The film is now just about 14 months away from release and the news on the film is probably going to grow from here and while there are some holes that we still need to find out, don’t forget, it is only about a year to go until the film’s release and provided that everything comes together, it will be well worth the wait.

GENEPOOL





24 01 2013

I found this article Thoroughly and Very Interesting, so I thought I would share it with you.

SKREEONK!

In an excellent “introduction to a much larger article” article, the ever-awesome i09 has released some excellent tidbits from the current re-writer of Legendary’s GODZILLA. Yes, the entire film is in jeopardy right now thanks to a multi-faceted producer’s lawsuit – but hey, lets focus on the good news shall we? Frank Darabont (of Walking Dead Fame – terribly talented fellow) had the following to say about his take on the giant gray behemoth:

gojira1What I found very interesting about Godzilla is that he started off definitely as a metaphor for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And some of the atom bomb testing we were doing in the South Pacific in the subsequent years. The giant terrifying force of nature that comes and stomps the shit out of your city, that was Godzilla. Filtered through the very fanciful imaginations of the Japanese perception. And then he became Clifford the Big Red Dog…

View original post 426 more words








%d bloggers like this: