Gareth Edward’s reworking of Godzilla has been unleashed into cinemas and the early consensus is very positive. The reviews are looking good and it’s already promising to be one of the blockbusters of the year. With an exciting cast headed up by Bryan Cranston and a young director, whose previous, much lower budget movie Monsters was something of a modern masterpiece, it is not surprising that anticipation for the film is huge and will do excellent business at the box office. The marketing was done very well with only sneak-peaks of the eponymous reptile being presented through a variety of teaser trailers and one sheet posters which heavily echoed the original Japanese films. Everything is in place for Godzilla to be a success.
However, some may of thought this was the case in 1998. Roland Emmerich had come off the back of Independence Day and was about to secure his place among the A-List of directors. All he had to do was direct an exciting, American remake of Godzilla which would potentially spawn a new franchise. What could possibly go wrong with a respectable cast headed by the always likable Matthew Broderick and such strong source material to work with? The result was a huge computer generated mess that was short of plot and almost killed one of the most famous movie franchises the Japanese had had for decades.
Whole dissertations could be written about problems in the 1998 Godzilla. The cringe inducing, reality defying scenes that included Hank Azaria being stamped on while filming the creature, the constant military scenes in which none of the officers realise shooting the monster won’t do anything, oh yes, and who can forget the epic denouement in which the main characters all end up in a New York cab inside Godzilla’s mouth. This is a movie that had six Hollywood screenwriters but couldn’t think of a better plotline than Godzilla having a whole spawn of velociraptor like children to chase and eat Jean Reno and his band of Frenchmen. This was one of the biggest turkeys in the last two decades of American cinema. But…
There was one perfect thing about the film. Even though it wasn’t in the movie the marketing campaign was one of the best I have ever witnessed. I was an eight year old child at the time so it was directed at my demographic, but the combination of trailers, TV Spots, poster campaigns and music videos had me and many others in such a state of anticipation that I needed to see Godzilla.
First there’s the theatrical trailer.
It’s cut so fast and frantically that you can barely pause for breathe. The constant dark skies and drizzles makes for a sense of mystery and only teases of the monster hide the average CGI that would come back with a vengeance in the movie. It was an expertly edited trailer, taking all of the best scenes and splicing them into under two minutes. It also doesn’t give too much away in terms of plot, although when we all actually saw the film witnessed how little plot there was to give away. That doesn’t take anything away from how great the trailer is at whetting the anticipation of an audience.
Next was the poster:
With the combination of the iconic tagline ‘Size Does Matter’ and an image of Godzilla’s foot that is still ingrained into many a brain. When looking back at the poster brings back a nostalgia and familiarity. All of these teases produced a huge amount of intrigue and if the film was done well, then who knows, maybe we’d be seeing the eighth film of this franchise this year instead of the first of a new set of movies.
The factor that probably made me the most excited about the Godzilla films was the official music videos that coincided with its release. There was not one but two huge hits that accompanied the movie. There was the amazing Jamiroquai video ‘Deeper Underground’ in which a cinema is flooded by the ubiquitous New York rain as Godzilla protrudes from the screen:
Then came the (At the time named) Puff Daddy with ‘Come With Me’:
this is such a hardcore action film theme that you wonder how the film could be anything other than a five star masterpiece after these videos.
Maybe it was a case of the studio, the now extinct Tristar, of focusing so much on the marketing and forgot that you need a story with plot and not just a series of scenes edited together in which a big CGI monster brings down buildings as people run away. There was an obvious intention of making enough money to fund future films that they forgot audiences have to like the first one. Still, the level of anticipation created by the entire campaign is a lesson to anyone wanting to sell their movie, even if that movie is a bit of a dud.
Obviously the 2014 Godzilla will be awesome. It’s going back to its roots and has clearly got more of a story than a huge lizard just destroying skyscrapers over and over before coming back to do it again. With Edwards at the helm it will live up to its interesting and exciting marketing campaign unlike its 1998 predecessor.