Film Trailers

Trailer Watch: Rejoice in Minimalism in the Teaser Trailer for Godzilla

There’s a new Godzilla movie coming out next summer.  Hey, don’t laugh.  Everyone seemed to really like the footage they showed at San Diego Comic-Con this year.  Here’s the first official trailer:

This past summer, Pacific Rim basically gave us Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla but with far more variation and much, much, much better visuals.  It was a domestic embarrassment for the studio (just barely crossing the $100 million mark) while triumphantly cleaning up overseas to the tune of an international gross of $305 million and worldwide gross of $407.6 million.  It actually made more in China ($111 million) than it did anywhere else.  The same people (i.e., Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures) behind Pacific Rim are now bringing us this new Godzilla film.  Pacific Rim was an original creation sold as a smarter version of Transformers from cult-favorite director Guillermo del Toro; Godzilla is relying far more upon brand recognition and a cast full of slightly more recognizable figures, like Bryan “Walter White” Cranston and David Strathairn.  The film’s director, Gareth Edwards, is mostly known for the indie film Monsters, a post-monster invasion story which he made with a crew of 5 people and did his own special effects and made it look better than some big budget blockbusters.

This first trailer is surprisingly quiet, showcasing an extended sequence involving military figures falling from a plane before giving us brief glimpses of the major cast members (Bryan Cranston, Aaron Johnson, Elisabeth Olsen) in various states of worry.  This lack of any kind of prominent orchestral score dictating to us how we should be reacting makes the pay-off of a close-up of Godzilla’s face as it bellows out that signature roar all the more chilling (or fist-pump-in-the-air inducing, depending on your personal take on Godzilla).

Here’s the official plot synopsis:

“An epic rebirth to Toho’s iconic Godzilla, this spectacular adventure, from Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, pits the world’s most famous monster against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence.”

We don’t actually get any sense of this Godzilla vs. “malevolent creatures” vibe implied by the synopsis.  However, this would seem to fall more in line with latter depictions of Godzilla in which the creature assists humanity by eliminating a common threat but is not, in the end, an ally to mankind or an agent of good or evil.

Godzilla began life in the 1954 film Godzilla, King of Monsters! in which Godzilla as functions as a metaphor for Japan’s post-WWII worries over both the effects of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as the potential for imminent future destruction.  Since then, there have been nearly 30 Godzilla films, a seemingly endless parade of poorly dubbed Japanese efforts featuring men in obvious rubber suits smashing 1/50 scale sets while the camera cuts away to a scurrying crowd which always has one person who looks up at the sky and bellows, “Oh, no!  Look, it’s Godzilla!” Not all of the films are terrible.  In fact, Son of Godzilla is undeniably goofy but surprisingly touching.  The last American version was the poorly received 1998 Godzilla which forced us to try and accept Matthew “Ferris Bueller” Broderick as an action star.

Godzilla and Matthew Broderick from the 1998 “Godzilla.”

You could argue that Cloverfield was basically an unofficial Godzilla movie, just with a “man on the street” approach to story and depiction of the monster.  Pacific Rim also shares some elements.  Will this new Godzilla emerge superior to all those its franchise has inspired over the years?

It’s also worth noting that one of the downfalls of the 1998 Godzilla was an advertising campaign which used billboards in New York City to emphasize how tall their Godzilla would be in real life.  Then when we got a look at Godzilla in the movie the results were less than satisfying.  Cloverfield also purposefully held back on showing their monster in the advertising.  This trailer only gives a cloudy/smoke-covered glimpse of the new Godzilla, but it certainly sounds like the classic Godzilla.  However, is getting a good look at a ginormous monster going to be all that impressive after the multiple kaiju seen in Pacific Rim?

Godzilla is scheduled to come out May 16, 2014.

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