Things to Know About the Upcoming "Godzilla"

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.
May 9th, 2014

"Godzilla," the reboot of the fabled monster franchise, is  produced by Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures. This movie will present the giant monster to the world in a context that holds true to most of the key elements of the original "Godzilla" canon. That being said, however, slight modifications, especially regarding the creature's origin, will be evident. For established fans and newcomers to the franchise alike, being informed of key tidbits about the new "Godzilla" will help in understanding and enjoying this new reboot.

The Long Road Back

Following the release and poor critical reception of the 1998 "Godzilla" film, it seemed unlikely that another American studio would get a chance at making another film about the gargantuan beast. When the Japanese production company Toho, the originators of the "Godzilla" films, announced that they would step away from future monster films following the release of "Godzilla: The Final Wars" in 2004, the future of the building-toppling spiked lizard appeared to be bleak.

By 2007, however, a three-man team consisting of Yoshimitso Banno, Peter Anderson and Brian Rogers negotiated a licensing agreement from Toho for the development and production of a full-length 3D movie using the Godzilla creature. As part of the agreement, Toho set a condition for the development of the new film's story line. The origin of the creature had to remain attributable to some sort of nuclear or radiation event. Elements of the story also had to have at least some setting in Japan.

Homage to the Past

Key points in the 2014 "Godzilla" film hearken back to the classic "Godzilla" movies of the Toho years. In this film, the Godzilla creature will not face off against humanity alone. It will encounter and do battle with at least two other giant monsters. The role of the Godzilla creature will have certain underlying characteristics of an anti-hero. As in most of the Toho films, this Godzilla incarnation will save mankind from a disaster of its own making, while still wreaking city-busting havoc.

Alterations to the Original Backstory

While the original 1954 "Godzilla" presented the monster as the direct result of mutations from atomic testing, this new film takes a slightly different twist on that idea. The Godzilla creature in this film comes forth as one of the last, if not the last, creatures of its species. Originating millions of years ago when the surface radiation levels of the planet were far greater than they are today, this Godzilla is able to use radiation as an energy source. This unique use of radiation, however, was not due to an encounter with a man-made atomic explosion. This trait came about as a normal part of the evolutionary process for the animal.

The creature did encounter an atomic bomb explosion in 1954, but that was as a result of an attempt to destroy the creature when it was discovered in the South Pacific. Since that time, the creature had apparently remained in hiding under the depths of the ocean.

No Man in a Rubber Suit

While the script and plot points were deliberately created to stay close to the essence of the original Toho films, the design of the monster itself did borrow something from the non-canon 1998 "Godzilla" film. Namely, the creature is a computer generated image rendered over live action footage, not an actor in a rubber suit. The physical appearance of the monster itself, however, does reflect a close adherence to the original Toho design. Toho, in fact, had final approval for the design of this Godzilla monster.

The design of this Godzilla incarnation has received some mild criticism for appearing pudgy. The film's director, Gareth Edwards, described the design process for the new Godzilla to have taken an entire year with more than 100 designs being tested. Edwards affirmed in an interview with that this new Godzilla was partially inspired by the muscle anatomy of a grizzly bear. This may explain the heftiness of the creature that some observers have noted. In addition to the added girth, this new Godzilla design is also the tallest. The height of the creature is set to be 350 feet.

Released sixty years following the original "Godzilla" in 1954, this new version of the infamous creature offers just the right dose of homage to the original without becoming bloated by its own past. Armed with a freshly redesigned monster, an updated origin story and well-scripted dialogue for the humans in the plot, it seems capable of garnering its own momentum going forward. Although it is in an entirely different genre, it shares the same hope for an energetic reboot as did "Casino Royale" for the James Bond franchise or J.J. Abrams' 2009 "Star Trek."