Here is an awesome glimpse of the upcoming reboot from Legendary Pictures, the company that gave us PACIFIC RIM. Scheduled for worldwide release in May of 2014, GODZILLA stars Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, Sally Hawkins, Juliette Binoche, Victor Rasuk, David Strathairn, CJ Adams, Richard T. Jones, Brian Markinson, Al Sapienza, Ken Jamamura, Patrick Sabongui, Yuki Morita, and Akira Takarada (who starred in the 1954 original). Gareth Edwards (MONSTERS) directed, from a screenplay by Max Borenstein, derived from a story by Dave Callaham (THE EXPENDABLES).
With any luck, this film will be the polar opposite of the misguided 1998 film directed by Roland Emmerich, which replaced the familiar Godzilla design with an over-sized mutant iguana. Regarding his approach to the new film, director Edwards told Shock Till You Drop:
“Godzilla is definitely a representation of the wrath of nature. We’ve taken it very seriously and the theme is man versus nature and Godzilla is certainly the nature side of it. You can’t win that fight. Nature’s always going to win and that’s what the subtext of our movie is about. He’s the punishment we deserve.”
Just in time for Christmas, the Cinefantastique Laserblast crew – that would be Dan Persons, Lawrence French, and Steve Biodrowski – offer up their recommendations for DVDs and Blu-ray discs that would make perfect stocking stuffers for the horror, fantasy, and science fiction fan in your life. Suggestions range from the 1932 classic ISLAND OF LOST SOULS, now on Criterion Blu-ray disc, to the 1968 Japanese giant monster fest, DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, out on Blu-ray from Media Blasters. As a special added bonus feature, this Laserblast podcast includes an interview with Steve Ryfle (author of JAPAN’S FAVORITE MON-STAR), who provided audio commentary for the DAM disc.
Merry Christmas, everyone! And truly, nothing says Christmas like Godzilla!
The Hollywood Reportersays that Gareth Edwards (MONSTERS) is poised to sign with Legendary Pictures and Warner Brothers to direct their version of the classic Toho giant monster GODZILLA.
Edwards’ MONSTERS , which the former Visual FX artist and documentary maker wrote and directed in the hopes of attracting bigger projects, featured glimpes of giant, tentacled alien monsters making life hazardous for two people trying escape a quarantined zone of infestation for the safety of the U.S.
The article says Gareth Edwards will work on the screenplay with a an as yet unhired writer, presumably based on the previous script by David Callaham (DOOM, THE EXPENDABLES).
MONSTERS brought Edwards three British Independent Film Awards.
At the 3D Summit in Universal City, producer Brian Rogers told Zennie 62 that Legendary Pictures and Warner Brothers’ planned 3D GODZILLA reboot will be taking a darker, more serious approach.
In the video, Rogers mentioned BATMAN BEGINS/THE DARK KNIGHT as an example of how an existing franchise can be improved for a modern audience.
However, he also suggested that there might be other monster(s) for Godzilla to fight, suggesting aspects of the old-fashioned monster rallies of the 1960’s and 70’s.
The project was actually brought to him by Yoshimitsu Banno, director of GODZILLA VS. THE SMOG MONSTER (Godzilla Vs. Hedorah), as he had the rights to do Godzilla in IMAX — which doesn’t seem to on the table at this point.
The iconic Japanese monster will be realized via computer animation, but Brian Rogers emphasized that it will be a live-action film. A tentative 2012 release is anticipated.
The late Ishiro Honda has long been considered Japan’s premier fantasy film director, and certainly worthy of a book-length study, which is what author Peter H. Brothers’ Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men: The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda provides. Clearly, Brothers is well-read and well-informed on his subject. Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men: The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda is divided into three major sections. In the first, Brooks provides comments and insights on the hallmarks of Honda’s approach to direction and storytelling. In the second, he provides a mini-biography of the director, filling in many background details on his life (such as his extended military service and his long apprenticeship as an assistant director) that I have not previously seen or read. He also makes clear why the preferred spelling of Honda’s first name is Ishiro, despite his early films being credited as Inoshiro.
The final, and longest section of the book, examines each of Honda’s fantasy films in detail. This section is divided into several subsections, charting the rise and fall of Honda’s film career. Brooks does take an unusual approach to titles: he addresses each film by a translation of the Japanese title rather than by the English release title or by the Japanese title rendered in the letters of the Western alphabet. Thus, ATRAGON is referred to as SUBMARINE WARSHIP. While Godzilla and Mothra are referred to by their English names, Rodan is consistently referred to by his Japanese name of Radon.
One strength of Brothers’ work is the emphasis placed on a Honda’s collaborators. He notes the differences between the approaches of his two major screenwriters, Takeshi Kimura (whose work tended to be downbeat and critical) and Shinichi Sekizawa (whose work was more child-like and hopeful). Brothers frequently cites the quality of Eiji Tsuburaya’s work, Honda’s main special effects expert. He carefully comments on the scores of Akira Ifukube, noting the orchestrations used for the various pieces. Additionally, he makes note of actors who make multiple appearances in Honda’s films.
On the downside, however, Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men: The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda contains no illustrations whatsoever. (Toho Studios, which produced most of Honda’s movies, are notoriously difficult about granting permission to reproduce stills, and there are no pictures of Honda himself, even personal ones). Brothers assumes the reader will already be familiar with each of these films and so doesn’t bother with summaries and other basic information. When commenting on Ifukube’s scores, Brothers seems to mention individual pieces by translations of soundtrack cue titles rather than referring directly back to the films themselves.
Additionally, there are some other difficulties. The copy-editing is poor, for example. There are a couple of references to “eye-pooping” effects rather than “eye-popping.” Brothers uses “mute” when he means “moot.” At one point the word “contretemps” is misspelled, and a few times letters or words are omitted, obscuring meaning.
Another problem that occasionally crops up is unsupported suppositions. For example, Brothers hints that Tsuburaya contemplated suicide if the original GODZILLA had not been a success, also that Honda was never “particularly interested in directing films that stressed creatures over characters” and that he “longed to return to the kind of sweet, sentimental pictures that he was fond of directing that stressed human values.” A quote or source citation would make these claims more convincing.
However, Brothers is certainly correct in his assertions that Honda didn’t make his monster movies with the intention of frightening people. Though the creatures in them are colorful characters of mass destruction, Honda does not create typical suspense or scare scenes, and largely eschew depicting gory demises, though his original GODZILLA gains great power from its depictions of the Japanese detailing with the aftermath of the irradiated lizard’s onslaught in ways that evoke memories of the post-Hiroshima survivors.
Additionally, Brothers correctly notes Honda’s repeated emphasis on the hopes for a United Nations-oriented peaceful solution, showing Japan joining a league of nations in combating alien or monster menaces or other major problems (such as GORATH’s potentially world-destroying planetoid). When the Godzilla series was revived in the ‘80s, the tendency then was to show a more militaristically aggressive Japan (Kimura’s scripts tended to be very critical of the Japanese military establishment). One issue I wish that Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men: The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda had delved more into is the differences between the Japanese and American versions of the films. Brothers doesn’t mention how Honda’s ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN was turned into an abomination called HALF HUMAN for its American release (something nicely covered recently on the And You Call Yourself a Scientist website). For the most part, Brothers concentrates on the original Japanese versions, not even mentioning how classic Universal horror themes were added to the soundtrack of KING KONG VS. GODZILLA for its American version (though he does note that the American version of the film lets the Seahawk disaster sequence run without the interruption of scenes from the Pacific Pharmaceuticals bon voyage party, as in the Japanese version).
Though Brothers does at times have a tendency to lay on the superlatives, he doesn’t stint from criticizing what he perceives as Honda’s lackluster later fantasy productions. After box office receipts began falling off on Godzilla films in Japan, producer Tomoyuki Tanaka ordered the budgets slashed, and the Godzilla films became increasingly geared towards children. Under these restrictions, Honda fell far short of his previous proven abilities with such uninspiring fare as GODZILLA’S REVENGE and TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA.
Nevertheless, Honda made a total of 25 fantasy films, a sizeable and significant body of work worthy of the serious attention Brothers gives them. In addition to the Godzilla movies, these included his science fiction invasion trilogy THE MYSTERIANS, BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE, and GORATH; his science fiction efforts THE H-MAN and THE HUMAN VAPOUR, his submarine movies ATRAGON and LATITUDE ZERO, his Frankenstein duo FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD and WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS, as well as launching MOTHRA and RODAN on their merry careers. There is also the fascinating morality tale that is MATANGO (aka ATTACK OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE), with its evocation of the Seven Deadly Sins and the beautiful Kumi Mizuno actually becoming more alluring as she transforms into a fungus.
Despite some caveats, for the serious lover of kaiju movies, Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men: The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda is worthy of your time and attention. This kind of attention focusing on one of the most prolific directors of fantasy films is long overdue.
San Diego Comic-Con International 2010 brought all kinds of news for movie fans and geeks the world over, not the least of which was the unveiling of the concept art for an updated version of Godzilla.
Almost 60 years after the fire-breathing monster first graced the screen, a modern-day rendition is supposed to once again thrill audiences in 2012. A booth at San Diego Comic-Con set up by Legendary Pictures included smoke machines and a shaking floor to immerse attendees in the experience as an animated Godzilla walked by on a nearby screen.
What do you think of the new look? Will 2012 be 1998 all over again for fans of the franchise? Sound off in the comments below!
In this post about SAW 3-D, being touted as the finale installment in the Jigsaw saga, Lionsgate president Jason Constantine makes the following statement about the longevity of the SAW franchise:
“You can count on one hand the franchises that lasted seven years — and every year, no less,” says Jason Constantine, Lionsgate’s president of acquisitions and co-productions. “It became part of pop-culture discourse.”
This strikes my as slightly myopic in terms of the history of horror, fantasy and science fiction film franchise. Off the top of my head, here are several more than you can count on one hand – unless you are a polydactyl alien from a galaxy far, far away:
The Universal Pictures Frankenstein series began in 1931 with FRANKENSTEIN and continued through 1948 with ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN, totaling eight films.
Toho Studio’s original Godzilla franchise began in 1954 with GODZILLA (a.k.a. GOJIRA) and took a breather after TERROR OF MECHA-GODZILLA in 1974. The franchise revived in 1985 and lasted until GODZILLA VS. DESTROYER in 1996, then resumed again in 1999, wrapping up with GODZILLA: FINAL WARS in 2004, with 26 films on its resume.
The Hammer Films Frankenstein series began in 1957 with CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN and ended in 1974 with FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL, totalling six films (not counting the aberration known as HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN)
Hammer’s Dracula series began in 1958 with HORROR OF DRACULA and ended in 1974 with LEGEND OF THE SEVEN GOLDEN VAMPIRES (a.k.a. THE SEVEN BROTHERS MEET DRACULA), totaling eight films (nine if you count BRIDES OF DRACULA, in which the Count does not appear).
The James Bond franchise launched in 1962 with DR. NO and continued until QUANTUM OF SOLACE in 2008, totaling over 20 films. (There was a haitus in the 1990s, but still this is a long-lived franchise).
HALLOWEEN started its reign of terror in 1978, which lasted through HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION in 2002. The franchise started up again in 2008 with a remake.
FRIDAY THE 13TH began in 1980 and lasted through 2003’s FREDDY VS. JASON, before launching a remake last year.
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET arrived in 1984 and officially ended with FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE in 1991 – barely six years. But then the franchise started up again in 1996 with WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE, followed by FREDDY VS. JASON in 2003, and then a remake this year.
Well, that makes eight. I guess we’re not supposed to count the ALIEN franchise and George A. Romero’s sequels to NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968), because the films were spaced out at long intervals: the ALIEN films extend from 1979 through ALIENS VS. PREDATOR in 2007; Romero’s latest, SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD, arrived earlier this year.
If we include non-sequel franchise, we get the Vincent Price Poe movies from HOUSE OF USHER in 1960 through THE OBLONG BOX in 1969. Extending past the real of cinefantastique, we get lengthy franchises devoted to Sherlock Holmes and other screen detectives, not to mention such low-brow fare as Ma and Pa Kettle and Francis the Talking Mule.
Let me know if there are any I missed.
Godzilla fans in San Francisco have a rare opportunity to view their favorite radioactive reptile on the big screen, courtesy of this week-long celebration of kaiju eiga (that’s “monster movies” to you Occidentals out there). The event kicks off on Friday, May 7, with “TokyoScope Talk – War of the Giant Monsters,” a discussion among Otaku USA Editor-in-Chief Patrick Macias, Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters author August Ragone, and Japanese film critic Tomohiro Machiyama. There will also be a raffle give-away of a new GAMERA THE GIANT MONSTER DVD from Shout Factory.
The city-stomping fun continues with four of Godzilla’s “most-loved films,” which will screen from May 8 through 13: Godzilla vs. Hedora (1971), Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972), Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973), and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974). (“Loved by whom?” is one of the questions you might ask of the discussion panel, as these titles all date from Godzilla’s early ’70s nadir – although Godzilla vs. Hedorah is certainly wild and weird enough to demand interest.)
All screenings and discussion take place at:
1746 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94115
Get directions and schedule information at: www.vizcinema.com
Tickets are $10.00 for General Admission; $8.00 for Matinees, Seniors (62+), and Children (-12).
Read the complete press release for the event below:
San Francisco, CA, April 26, 2010 – NEW PEOPLE and VIZ Cinema welcome the 3rd and latest installment of TokyoScope Talk – War of the Giant Monsters – on Friday, May 7th at 7:00pm. Join Otaku USA Editor-in-Chief Patrick Macias, Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters author August Ragone, and Japanese film critic Tomohiro Machiyama at the Bay Area’s hottest film venue for a fun and lively discussion on the “kaiju” (monster) movies featuring rare images and clips of Godzilla, Mothra, Gamera and other iconic creatures from classic Japanese sci-fi cinema. General admission tickets are $10.00.
VIZ Cinema invites Bay Area monster fans to a 5-day Kaiju Shakedown: Godzillathon!, running Saturday, May 8th thru Thursday, May 13th. Featured will be rare screenings of the Big G’s 4 most-loved films including Godzilla vs. Hedora (1971), Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972), Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973), and Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974). Details and screening times at: www.vizcinema.com.
Don’t miss a rare chance to see the beauty and enormity of Godzilla in stunning 35mm prints with English subtitles and a premium THX®-certified sound system! These events may sell-out. Ticket prices: General Admission: $10.00; Senior & Child: $8.00. Advance tickets on sale at: http://www.newpeopleworld.com/films/films-5-2010/#godzillathon
TokyoScope Talk – War of the Giant Monsters will feature a special raffle giveaway of premium monster collectables including the brand new DVD release from Shout! Factory of Gamera: The Giant Monster (1965). The revered classic features the original Japanese version of the film presented with fresh English subtitles and anamorphic widescreen produced from an all-new HD master created from original vault elements.
VIZ Cinema is the nation’s first movie theatre devoted exclusively to Japanese film and anime. The 143-seat subterranean theatre is located in the basement of the NEW PEOPLE building and features plush seating, digital as well as 35mm projection, and a THX®-certified sound system.
About NEW PEOPLE
NEW PEOPLE offers the latest films, art, fashion and retail brands from Japan and is the creative vision of the J-Pop Center Project and VIZ Pictures, a distributor and producer of Japanese live action film. Located at 1746 Post Street, the 20,000 square foot structure features a striking 3-floor transparent glass façade that frames a fun and exotic new environment to engage the imagination into the 21st Century. A dedicated web site is also now available at: www.NewPeopleWorld.com.
FULL DISCLOSURE: This event is part of the “100 Years of Monsters” celebration sponsored by Spherewerx, which owns Cinefantastique.
Josh Marshall of the political blog Talking Points Memo compares the current throw-down between RNC Chairman Michael Steele and former Bush’s Brain Karl Rove to a kaiju slug-fest:
Not since Godzilla did battle with Mothra has there been a fight with quite the potential for spectacle as that between Karl Rove and Michael Steele. We haven’t seen much of it yet. I don’t think I even realized it was happening. But behind the scenes, Michael Steele’s allies say that Rove and his minions are the ones fanning the anti-Steele flames.
Submitted without comment or interpretation, for your entertainment value.
Get ready to scrub your brains free of the god-awful 1998 remake of GORJIRA by Roland Emmerich (2012, INDEPENDENCE DAY), because a deal has just been struck to get a new remake of the Japanese classic in production. According to Bloody Disgustingboth Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures are teaming up to bring a reboot to our screens in the near future, just recently having closed a deal with Japanese rights-holders, Toho.
Godzilla is one of the world’s most powerful pop culture icons, and we at Legendary are thrilled to be able to create a modern epic based on this long-loved Toho franchise,
Our plans are to produce the Godzilla that we, as fans, would want to see. We intend to do justice to those essential elements that have allowed this character to remain as pop culturally relevant for as long as it has.
A big statement to live up to indeed, especially given American film-makers track record when dealing with the horror icon, but one that sounds promising. No director or writers have been attached to the project thus far but it seems unlikely that Emmerich will be returning, given his lack of enthusiasm for a GODZILLA sequel in the past. It does, given its popularity at the moment, seem highly likely that the film will be shot in 3D, the IMAX format, or both.
Both studios are aiming to get their GODZILLA reboot out by 2012. What do you think, is another American remake of GORJIRA worth the hassle?