The explosive trailers and teasers for the upcoming American Godzilla redo are out! And while they do look impressive, anyone old enough to remember the gee-whiz preview for 1998's Godzilla knows that sometimes Hollywood cruelly and arbitrarily disguises crotch-punches as feature films. So that's why we're devoting the next 700 words to one question: WILL IT BE TERRIBLE?
#4. The Script = A Game of Hot Potato
Whereas the 1954 Godzilla had a simple formula (nuclear bomb + giant prehistoric reptile whose entire existence flies in the face of the fossil record, physics), the 2014 Godzilla was birthed through a series of puffs and passes from one screenwriter to the next.
It all started with Dave Callaham, whose claims to fame are The Expendables and that godawful Doom adaptation. After Callaham was bunted off, Man of Steel director David Goyer was brought on for a rewrite that we assume involved a gritty dissection of Godzilla's shitty childhood. After that they gave it to some dude named Max Borenstein, then Iron Man 3 writer Drew Pearce, and finally Shawshank Redemption director Frank Darabont for a spit shine.
No word on whether Darabont kept the climatic third-act one-on-one game against Sir Charles.
Still with us? That would be five writers, three of whom are uncredited, and Callaham, who was given a "story" credit, which is a nice way of saying "We rewrote the living shit out of your entire draft."
#3. The Originality = Well, It's a Godzilla Film
Look, we're not going to fault Godzilla for being the second remake of an older film ...
Or third remake, if you count Godzooky.
... but what we will do is show you these two pictures of impossibly destroyed buildings:
Warner Bros., TriStar Pictures
All Godzillas have a history of being crazy passionate lovers.
The screenshot on the top is from the upcoming 2014 film, whereas the other is from the 1998 movie, which was about Puff Daddy lazily rapping at a giant iguana or something. (Seriously, we haven't watched it since opening day, 1998.)
So that's not exactly an auspicious sign. Nor is the fact that the chilling music from the trailers is only chilling because it's yanked from 2001: A Space Odyssey, a soundtrack that could make the common bowel movement seem foreboding. But, as a counterpoint, HEY IS THAT RODAN OR MOTHRA OR RODAN FUCKING MOTHRA MIDAIR SO THEY LOOK LIKE ONE BEAUTIFUL BEAST?!?
This would go against Rodan's history of being strictly about hand jobs.
#2. The Cast: Kick-Ass and the One Who Knocks
We're all excited to see Heisenberg garrote a 300-foot-tall atomic lizard with the cables of the Golden Gate Bridge, but this isn't heaven, so that's not actually happening. Instead Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Juliette Binoche play the Brody family on the run from a man-eating monster. Wait a minute, that synopsis sounds familiar ....
Anyway, good actors can't hurt a bad film, but they also certainly can't save it, as Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno, and Hank Azaria have already taught us. According to Cranston, the film will reflect the "on-the-ground" perspective of the human characters, as opposed to sweeping crane or helicopter shots of kaiju carnage.
In other words, it's Godzilla ... but with obstructed seating ... which was the modus operandi of Cloverfield ... which was a Godzilla homage itself ... which means Godzilla might be a radioactive ouroboros.
Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures
Like we said, crazy passionate.
#1. The Director = Did Anyone See Monsters?
With a budget of half a million dollars, director Gareth Edwards managed to create Monsters, his 2010 indie kaiju horror film, using only a couple of improvising actors and a laptop for special effects. He even traveled to hurricane-torn regions to create the appearance of a beast-ravished landscape.
The actress on the left was actually an unusually expressive mop.
This subtle, low-budget, atmospheric take on the genre featured almost no monster action, but was apparently enough to make some Warner Bros. executive slam his whiskey glass on the table and declare, "I want him to make the next Godzilla! A film that is literally the opposite of Monsters, but with 320 times the budget!" So yeah, we have no idea how he'll handle all those millions -- all we know is Edwards is bringing a more "realistic approach" to a franchise that rests on magic like this:
SO, WILL IT BE TERRIBLE?
Probably. But that's not going to stop you from seeing it, because it's Godzilla, dammit.
At least it doesn't look like the lovechild of Benedict Cumberbatch and a reptile petting zoo this time.