Monday, July 16, 2012

Godzilla Director Speaks Out And So Do I

Famous Monsters of Filmland's website recently put up a short post involving quotes from Gareth Edwards the director of Monsters about his upcoming Godzilla reboot at Legendary Pictures as well as a teaser poster for the film (which you'll have to follow the link to see, I'm not reposting it)! 

 The main quote of the article, and the one that seems to have raised both my eyebrows, reads thus:

“We’re going to take it seriously…If this really happened, what would it be like? It’s very grounded and realistic"

On one hand I'm okay with that.  Obviously Mr. Edwards is a fan, and we certainly don't want the King of the Monsters put through a camp fest, but by the same token I'm not sure I want a grim, gritty Godzilla picture.  Monster movies, for me at least, have always been about fantasy and escapism and while realism is all fine and good too much of it can suck the fantasy right out of a project.

Of course that doesn't necessarily mean that such a film will be bad.  Gareth Edward's previous film Monsters certainly had more to do with reality than fantasy and it was actually pretty darn good in my estimation.  It was a very grounded, human story with the giant monsters involved used as a catalyst for the fears and anxieties that plague us all.

But then there are other examples of this too, such as Dino DeLaurentis' 1976 remake of King Kong.  This is not only a bad picture, it's a boring one!  And why?  Because all the fantasy elements were stripped away.  Oh, a few of them survived as pitiful, down-to-earth abominations in comparison to their former glory, but all in all, this is the best example of the worst case scenario for the type of film a 'realistic' Godzilla movie could possibly be.  One viewing and this turkey will have you begging for mercy like Jessica Lange in the paws of the Mighty Kong!

All that said and done, my primary concern is whether or not there will be another giant monster involved in Mr. Edward's film.  See, the problem with Godzilla fighting only the military is that inevitably the military has to win.  I don't mind that as long as there's an element of fantasy involved in their victory (like the oxygen destroyer from the original masterpiece) or when a force of nature intervenes (ala the iceberg in Godzilla Raids Again, or the Volcano in Godzilla 1985).  But if they just shoot him down with missiles like they did in Godzilla (1998), I'm going to be severely disappointed.

Godzilla's invulnerability is as important a part of his mythology as Superman's is.  I don't want to see a Superman movie where conventional weapons can harm him, and I sure don't want to see a Godzilla film where the same is true.

The beauty of the monster brawl is that it gives Godzilla an opponent who is on even footing with him.  To exclude that element would be like making a Spider-Man film sans super villains because it takes away from the realism of the story.  Once done, Spidey's actions would be a lot less interesting because his opponents would never be able to keep up with him.

I sincerely hope despite a realistic tone that the fantasy elements will not be diminished.  It is possible to have both.  John Carpenter's The Thing, Ridley Scott's Alien, and Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins are all wonderful examples of how combining fantasy and realism can work and even compliment each other.

The Thing is more frightening because the characters and settings feel real, leaving you with the distinct impression that this could really happen.  The same is true of Alien and Batman's fantastic gadgetry is less likely to take you out of the moment because Nolan goes to great pains to explain how everything works and why it's there.

Despite all my conjectures, I do want it known that I believe Gareth Edwards has a great Godzilla movie in him.  I just hope it's a great fantasy movie as well!

1 comment:

  1. A good article you've written.

    I believe that Mr.Edwards will strike the perfect balance between realism and fantasy. We should remember that Cloverfield was very much grounded in reality with the main feature being a seemingly indestructible creature.

    They've already, with the trailer, shown that other monsters are on the menu and with the fairly similar monster style to the classic G shows they're ready to take the source as a close companion on this journey.

    The major flaws of the previous Hollywood "effort" were a sloppy plot, a monster that was clearly cashing in on Jurassic Park, no real enemy, Godzilla being more of a clumsy maternal monster than a savage beast and of course no atomic breath.