The Official Trailer

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The 2nd trailer for the new Godzilla is out, and I’m officially psyched! Here’s why:

No Odious Comic Relief

It was clear from the teaser trailer, but amplified here, that we will go back to the super serious mood of the 1954 original. Gone is the “light-hearted comedy” of the 1998 fiasco. Devlin & Emmerich were reportedly dragged kicking and screaming into that project, and their primary goal seems to have been to convince the world that they didn’t take Godzilla seriously. Part of their strategy was to make almost all of the human characters painfully embarrassing buffoons. (Remember Mayor Roger Ebert? Two thumbs down!) This time around director Gareth Edwards and his team are fans, so we get Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, Juliette Binoche, and David Strathairn – wonderful actors all – playing adults facing a major crisis.

Back To The Past!

I’m delighted to discover that in the alternate universe of this new Hollywood version, Godzilla’s origin is still in the radiated Pacific of the post-war era. “We awakened something” says Watanabe’s Dr. Serizawa. (Dr. Serizawa!!!) And if any of us are still so naïve as to believe that all the action out on Bikini Atoll was merely some “tests,” we will soon be disabused. (Finally, a paranoid conspiracy theory I can really get behind!)

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This simple and evocative image convinces me the filmmakers know what they are doing.

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This one too.

Back in 1998 the threat from nuclear technology was not a font-burner issue in most people’s minds. It was one reason Godzilla seemed so quaint. That was foolish, and what with North Korea’s missile program and the continuing tragedy of Japan’s Fukushima plant I hope people are waking up to the fact that we still have a tiger by the tail.

Spectacle!

I love the playland fantasy of classic Japanese monster effects, what with guys in rubber suits pushing over model buildings. But CGI (so often overused) can really shine when it comes to giant monsters trashing modern cities. I remember being swamped with excitement waiting for the 1998 movie to come out. (Bitter laugher.) It was the same feeling I had waiting for my parents to take my brother and I to a drive-in to see Destroy All Monsters, way back in 1968. All that excitement drained away into frustrated bafflement as I watched the movie, and realized that the best two shots in the movie had been put into the trailer.

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Guess who’s coming to town?

And FYI, the other good shot was from inside a car as a driver looks ahead and sees a gigantic reptilian foot crash down onto the road ahead of him. Other than that, though, all we got was a large and retiring lizard running away from an incompetent military. Amazing! This time around, it looks like we will get the aggressive and destructive monster we deserve.

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You can’t see the monster, but you can see giant man-made structures come crashing down.

Other Monsters

This actually is not a requirement for me. I would be happy with a solo movie, but evidently the powers that be insisted we have other creatures. Which is also OK with me. Some people attending closed screenings have reported seeing a giant scorpion-like arthropod, but the trailers themselves are being very cagey about the shape of this other menace. I’m content to wait until I see the movie to know exactly what it (they?) looks like.

 The Real Godzilla

The essential ingredient, the foundation on which all else depends, is Godzilla himself. Yes, himself, not herself. Devlin & Emmerich gave us a giant egg-bearing female iguana with no radioactive breath, and then slapped the name “Godzilla” on their movie. The dishonesty here was so great it almost looks pathological, and it’s no wonder the movie stank as bad as it did. No such weirdness seems to trouble the current production. Fidelity to the real Godzilla is not something to be ashamed of, but celebrated. And while playing peek-a-boo with the public before the opening weekend is a wise marketing strategy, Edwards & Co. have wisely decided to jettison the obsessive pre-screening secrecy of Roland & Emmerich – who had something to hide. And so we get a full-on shot of the star in the trailer. Welcome back big guy!

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