Comic-Con: GODZILLA Panel Recap Reveals Multiple Monsters; Teases “Intimate” Approach by Director Gareth Edwards

     July 20, 2013


Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures are bringing the classic monster Godzilla back to the screen next year, and the pic comes with some fairly lofty expectations from longtime fans of the character.  The studios surprised last year at Comic-Con by showing a reel of test footage shot by Gareth Edwards, teasing his take on the monster.  Godzilla returned to Hall H again this year, but this time it came with some actual footage from Edwards’ filming, revealing that Godzilla will indeed fight other monsters in the new movie.  Edwards took the Hall H stage with Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, and Bryan Cranston to talk about Edwards’ intimate take on the story, filming in Canada, balancing the monster aspect of the film with the human element, and much more.

Hit the jump for my full recap of the Comic-Con panel for Godzilla.

godzilla-comic-con-posterThe panel began by playing what looked like 1950s footage of an atomic bomb dropping, and as it exploded the footage filled the tri-screen set up on the front of the stage.  They then ran the test reel footage from last year to get the audience ready.

Moderator Chris Hardwick introduced director Gareth Edwards, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron-Taylor Johnson, and Bryan Cranston—whose arrival was met with enthusiastic applause.  Edwards revealed that they only finished shooting two days ago, as he literally just got off the plane from Hawaii.

Working on a major tentpole film:

  • Edwards said that he knows everybody sucks up to the studio on these panels, but he went on to say that Thomas Tull and Legendary and the people at Warner Bros. have been great and he was given a good deal of creative freedom.  Cranston then quipped, “So you’re really no better than any other suck up!”

Elizabeth Olsen’s experience making a large-scale movie:

  • Olsen said that she expected it to be really different, but once on set she said that it felt small and creative.  “We were on set all the time just going at it, so it felt like an independent, smaller production.”

  • Olsen revealed that she plays a nurse and a mother.

What Edwards brings to the franchise:

  • Taylor-Johnson said that Edwards brought an intimacy to the film that he liked.  When they first talked about the project, Edwards said he wanted to shoot it like an art film, even though it has this massive scale.

godzilla-imageDid Cranston like Kaiju films growing up?

  • Cranston replied, “You ask that because I’m the old guy?”

  • Cranston said that Godzilla was always his favorite monster when he was young because he was unapologetic.  He “wanted to see destruction,” as opposed to the sympathy of King Kong.

  • He was initially hesitant about joining the project because it was so big and he didn’t know if he wanted to step into that world.

  • “You really invest in these people, and you still get Godzilla.”

Balancing the humanity and monster aspects:

  • Edwards said that they took a lot of time figuring out what kind of story they would tell and what characters they would follow.

  • They decided that the humans would be naturally at the heart of the Godzilla portion of the film, as opposed to feeling like a separate story.

  • They filmed in Canada and when Edwards first arrived in Canada, he had to tell the immigration officer why he was there.  He used the code name Nautilus, but after filing paperwork the officer looked Edwards up and then asked him if he was directing Godzilla.  When Edwards answered in the affirmative, the officer said, “Don’t fuck it up, man!”

godzilla-comic-con-poster-2013-mondo-variantThe pressure of taking on the project:

  • Edwards said he felt a lot of pressure when taking on the project, but they worked very closely with Toho.

  • Edwards said it was always their intention that this film feel like part of the Toho legacy.

  • Edwards viewed this as his passion project instead of a “one for them” blockbuster film.

Hardwick then said, “we want to show you guys something before we leave,” and then Cranston quickly stood up and started unzipping his pants.  After some great back and forth between Cranston and Hardwick, they rolled footage.

The footage began with shots of soldiers running and people in hazmat suits, as we got a look at all of the major characters.  There was no dialogue, but the mood was quickly building with intensity as it was clear that something major was going on in the world.  We saw plenty of reaction shots of people looking amazed/terrified, but then we saw a giant creature causing some destruction outside of an airport.  The creature was not Godzilla, but large with insect-like stems for his arms and a very angular outline—reminiscent of the creatures from Spielberg’s War of the Worlds.

Helicopters were firing shots trying to take the creature down, and then we got the money shot: a giant, unmistakable foot stepped down in front of the airport windows and we realize that Godzilla is here to take on the unknown monsters.  We then got a short peek at Godzilla coming up behind the creature, with Godzilla’s stature making the other monster seem miniscule by comparison.  We didn’t get a look at Godzilla’s face, but from what we saw he looks to be fairly close to previous versions (not Roland Emmerich’s).

Closing thoughts:

I really like that Edwards approached Godzilla as a smaller movie, keeping the characters strong while also balancing the monster aspect.  It’s exciting to see that Godzilla will in fact be fighting other monsters in the film, and I’m interested to know how all of this madness begins in the first place.  We didn’t get to see anything from the performances, but the casting of really strong actors in this “tentpole” is an inspired choice that I think will pay off.

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