'Godzilla' storms into Hall H to kick off Warner's Comic-Con presentation
SAN DIEGO - For the second year in a row, Legendary and Warner Bros. came to San Diego's Comic-Con so they could promote one of the biggest films they have on their release schedule, next summer's "Godzilla."
As they did last year, Warner Bros. blew everything out to three screens that surrounded the front end of Hall H. It's a very clear sign that they want to overwhelm the audience that's gathered here at the start of the day. The presentation began with black and white footage of nuclear bomb tests, filling every screen until a logo emerged from the ash, the single word. "Godzilla."
Chris Hardwick, the panel moderator for the day, introduced the mood piece that was shown last year. It really is a gorgeous introduction to what director Gareth Edwards hopes to accomplish with the film, with Oppenheimer's narration placed over visions of mass destruction, evidence of something that has already happened, holes in skyscrapers and derailed trains and bodies positively everywhere. And then, at the very end, just a hint of Godzilla himself looming up out of some smoke.
Hardwick brought out the guests for the panel, with Edwards joined by his cast including Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, and Bryan Cranston, who is one of those guys you absolutely want to have on your panel if you're at Comic-Con. There are very few people who appear to have more fun with a Hall H crowd than Cranston, and he was certainly in fine form today.
Edwards seemed to be in a good mood, albeit a wee bit exhausted, as he told Hardwick that they are finally done. "We finished our last day of shooting two days ago. We went to Hawaii, did a night shoot, wrapped, and then got on a plane to come to San Diego to see you guys. I've been in a bubble for two years, and then as we're driving in, I saw these posters for 'Kick-Ass 2,' and I'm like, 'Oh, that's Aaron's film,' and then we drive a little further and I see some 'Breaking Bad' images. 'Oh, that's Bryan's thing.' So that's when it started to feel real."
He continued, saying, "I know everybody who does this sort of thing comes up here and sucks up to the studio, but honestly, Legendary and Warner have been great. We had creative freedom." Considering how big a jump there was from his first film, 'Monsters,' to this film in terms of size, Edwards seemed comfortable. Hardwick asked the actors if it was strange being part of something this massive.
Elizabeth Olsen, who has made a number of indie movies in the last few years, said, "I actually expected it to be different. It felt small. It felt creative. We never waited around for two hours waiting for a set-up. We would just shoot and we were free to try things. I play a nurse and a mother."
Aaron agreed with her, adding, "I think what Gareth brings is an intimacy. We were a family. When we first met and talked about it, the way he wanted to shoot it was as a big-budget art film, with a lot of emotion and a focus on these characters."
That seemed to be the message of the day. Yes, this is a gigantic movie. Yes, there are giant monsters beating the shit out of each other in it. But Edwards seems dedicated to the idea of telling a human story in front of that. When Hardwick asked Cranston if he watched the films growing up, Cranston said he only asked that of him because he's so old. ""He was always my favorite monster. He was unapologetic. I want to see destruction! I'm a boy! At first, I didn't know if this was a good project for me to do because it was so huge. Someone once offered me a role in the stage version of 'Wizard of Oz' as the Scarecrow, and I thought that was a losing proposition. Then I met Gareth and talked to him over the course of several hours. And then I saw 'Monsters,' and it was fantastic because he made a monster movie into a character driven piece. You really invest in these people, and you still get Godzilla all in one package."
Asked how he accomplished that, Gareth said, "We took a lot of time to figure out what the storyline would be and we didn't want this to feel like two separate films jammed together. It's so weird to come up to promote something when they tell you 'Go talk for 20 minutes, but don't give anything away.' We filmed it in Canada."
Cranston interrupted, smiling. "The Canadian Godzilla is really nice."
Gareth told a story about when they arrived in Canada and had to go through immigration. They were told to use the film's code name for the film, 'Nautilis," and when the immigration agent asked Gareth what he was doing, he told him and used the fake name. The guy walked away for a few moments, and then evidently looked him up on the IMDb. When he came back, he asked Gareth if he was directing "Godzilla." Sheepishly, Gareth admitted that he was.
"Well, don't fuck it up."