The 1997 Godzilla movie may have impressed the eight year old me, but I have a feeling my attitude towards movies featuring massive monsters laying waste to cities has matured a bit over the years - although my inner ten year old did love Pacific Rim. Luckily, it seems like Gareth Edwards' Godzilla reboot has been perfectly crafted to appeal to my older, more serious and cynical temperament.
When asked about how Godzilla differs from the tidal wave of superhero movies currently swamping cinemas, Edwards replied:
Probably one of the important things I felt about this film was that the characters at the heart of the story shouldn’t be superheroes. They should be everyday relatable people. In the [Steven] Spielberg movies they found that holy grail, the sweet spot of having the epic spectacle, but also relatable and emotional characters. Those events change and affect the characters, but the idea of someone blatantly saving the day becomes quite predictable. The events are real harrowing and present a life-changing scenario, so we just tried to take it really serious.
He has also approached the use of CGI in an interesting way, using it less as a provider of spectacle, but more as a tool to tease and create tension with the audience. When asked if he thought cinema-goers were becoming bored with CGI, he replied:
I think it’s valid. I call it CGI fatigue and you can get it quite easily in these kind of movies, when you are constantly throwing every visual you can at the screen. You climax quickly, then reach a plateau... It’s so easy to peak with these films then you get stuck as a filmmaker. I think basically there’s this CGI trend that is going to be over soon... It was over like 10 years ago, we had this big excitement and sort of a honeymoon period. It felt like Jurassic Park opened the floodgates and we worked through the list and checked off the boxes. We went through the list quite a few years ago. Now, it’s new territory to go back to proper storytelling and cinematic storytelling in terms of showing restraint and subtly, teasing the audience and being suspenseful as well. I know it’s very easy to just get fatigued with set pieces. That was something I was really careful about. I’m trying my hardest try to build the big moment in such a way that the audience will climax right the end of the movie and then we hit the credits.
Edwards was then asked the ultimate question of whether Godzilla is either good or evil. It might seem like an obvious question, surely a massive murderous monster who razes entire metropolises isn't exactly a good guy? Well, it's not as clear cut as that. The director explained:
Neither. He’s restoring the balance to nature. We’ve taken an absurd position on the planet as this alpha predator and the movie suggests, what happens if we weren’t top dog. He comes along and puts us in our place. If you try and pick a fight with nature, you’re going to lose. But the film does take itself very seriously. I could have made a cheesy popcorn version and it probably would have done well, but that’s not what we were looking for.
Personally, I'm delighted Godzilla is getting a straight faced reboot that's worthy of the original, plus Edwards' criticisms of current cinema certainly sits well with me. Here's hoping his reboot breaks the bank and proves to studio heads that there is money to be made in a more subtle and serious blockbusters.
What do you think? Do you like this approach, or would you have favored a more CGI/action version of Godzilla? Give us your opinion below.