First of all, the trailer kicks ass(see above). But that alone can’t move me, because I’ve been shot down by such before. Also, I just recently(last month)caught “Godzilla” star Bryan Cranston in his Broadway debut(find the “All the Way” review in the April and/or Theatre archives), and you’ll find him very prominent in the above video. But that’s not it either. So, let me tell you a name that you’ll be hearing a lot from now until the official North American opening of “Godzilla” on May the 16th. Gareth Edwards. Remember it, vault it, and tell people where you heard it first. Because I think he’s going to be a big deal as a director.
Mr. Edwards is British and in his late 30’s, with just one feature film(besides “Godzilla”)on his resume, so far. But that motion picture just happened to land on my Top Ten list of 2010. The name of the movie is “Monsters”, and it was made on a miniscule budget of a reported “under” 500,000 bucks. But it played much bigger. It also contained Godzilla-like giant creatures and showcased some stinging social commentary regarding immigration. Ask George A. Romero how important making a societal statement can be. Or John Carpenter for that matter. “Monsters” starred Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able as a pair of unlikely Mexican wanderers, trying desperately to return to the United States. What’s impeding their return? Oh, only some gargantuan, lizard-like, glowing creatures that have overtaken the country. And what ensues is a brisk, yet thoughtful, 90-minute journey that recalls the sensibilities of “Cloverfield”, “District 9”, and, believe it or not, 1934’s “It Happened One Night”! As far as I know, I’m the only one to make that last connection. But it’s there, and I’d love to hear from Mr. Edwards if an homage was intentional, or not.
Gareth Edwards directed “Monsters”, plus he wrote the screenplay for it. He was also the film’s cinematographer, and designed the impressive special effects. And along with showing us some terrific shots of the “monsters”, he also kept things tense and weighty—and yet subtle—when the creatures were only being anticipated. His patience and sure hand were remarkable. There is a scene towards the end of the movie, involving two of the massive beasts, that is astonishing, wondrous—and even touching. It’s better than anything you saw in 1993’s “Jurassic Park”, and it’s cost was completely “bargain basement”. Will Mr. Edwards be able deliver with a reported 160 million dollar budget for his sophomore effort? It must have been daunting, but the results appear spectacular. Gareth has an uphill battle following the critically derided “Godzilla” feature from 1998, that was expected to rule the box office that summer. That one did actually make a small fortune, but it is mostly despised by fans of the big, green, atomic dinosaur. This is the second-time that a North American production is taking a stab at rebooting the franchise of Japan’s favorite monster. And this time round it looks like a winner. 2014’s “Godzilla” also stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, Sally Hawkins and David Strathairn. And come May…I’m there.