10 December 2013

Godzilla ‘14 Teaser Trailer Is Here and Life Is Good

You might not have noticed it, because you don’t read my blog often, but Godzilla is sort of a huge big damn bloody deal to me.

Well, Godzilla is just plain huge to anybody, especially if you are in its way.

That’s why I hovered over my keyboard today at 10 a.m., hands palsied, awaiting the premiere of the first teaser trailer for the new Hollywood Godzilla from director Gareth Edwards. And… when the camera at last found the great lengths of the Japanese leviathan looming through the rubble of its devastation, and the beast let loose the legendary roar… I also roared out loud with him at the top of my lungs.

I was at work, mind you. Some impulses cannot be stopped. We’re a loose workplace, fortunately. They expect weird actions from their writers.

There’s no need to describe the trailer further—you can behold it for yourself—except to say that using György Ligeti’s “Requiem for Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, 2 Mixed Choirs and Orchestra” for the HALO-drop opening is perfect. This music is best known for its use as the “monolith theme” in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and is anything more monolithic than Godzilla? (As a hardcore Stanley Kubrick fan as well, this slammed my geek-meter up to “Do Not Pull This Lever Again.”)

Although the trailer leaves many open questions, as any early teaser trailer should (will Walter White have to move the cook now that a monster has stomped it?), it does show that Gareth Edwards and company have created a genuine interpretation of the figure of Godzilla.

This is crucial: there are many different Godzilla interpretations since the beast first crashed onto Japanese screens in 1954. Godzilla has served as a nuclear metaphor, a force of nature, a butt-kicking anti-hero, a child friendly superhero, and a near-demonic force. All of these are legitimate interpretations of Godzilla, who can absorb many concepts and channel many human emotions. I prefer some versions to others, but as a dedicated G-fan, I can find some enjoyment in all of them.

What isn’t acceptable: not interpreting Godzilla at all. This was the major failure of the 1998 Roland Emmerich-Dean Devlin disaster. The filmmakers did not care about Godzilla whatsoever—its history, its importance, or even why people liked it. They wanted to create their own monster and do their own thing with a popular brand name attached. The fans and the public rejected their crass endeavor. If you make a film titled Godzilla, you must interact with Godzilla in some way.

And this trailer tells me that’s what the new Godzilla is doing. They are going for a 1954 version (perhaps without the radioactivity metaphor that is less timely than it was for Japan in the ‘50s) that emphasizes the beast’s catastrophic effect on everyday people. This was a key part of the power of Ishiro Honda’s original movie and if Godzilla ’14 can capture even a quarter of that film’s epic, bleak power, it will be a winner.

I couldn’t be more ecstatic. Come get in line for the first screening with me right now.

For the sequel: Godzilla doing flying jump kicks and shaking hands with a giant robot! Like I said, legitimate interpretation.