So, you might guess based on my avatar that I'm more than a little interested in the new Godzilla movie that will be released next year.
Well, you are right. I am excited.
I've been a fan of Godzilla movies for a good chunk of my life. I remember taking the TV guide out of the newspaper every week, and flipping to the movie section to see if any Godzilla movies were coming on any of the channels we had (the answer was usually no). I remember staying up late to watch the Godzilla marathons that used to happen on New Years Eve. Heck, blasphemous as it sounds to most fans, I even enjoyed the 1998 American Godzilla movie for what it was: a fun, turn off your brain and enjoy the show monster flick.
So when I heard that a new American film was coming out, I was on board. The fact that it was going to heavily inspired by Toho movies as compared to the American movie was just icing on the cake (at the very least it means that I don't have to listen to as many people whining "GINO").
However, my unbridled enthusiasm became a bit bridled today when I read an interview down by the writer (or re-writer) of the screenplay, Frank Darabont. Now, don't get me wrong, Darabont has had an amazing career, with writing credits ranging from the Shawshank Redemption to the first season of The Walking Dead, so having him on board with the film can't be called anything but a boon. That said, some of the stuff he said has me a bit...worried would be too strong of word, so let's go with "wary".
The whole interview (conducted by io9) cane be found here, but I'll just quote the parts that concern me, and why they do.
"What we're trying to do with the new movie is not have it camp, not have it be campy. We're kind of taking a cool new look at it. But with a lot of tradition in the first film. We want this to be a terrifying force of nature."
Now, I get what he is trying to say here. Many Godzilla movies (especially the ones late in the original series) were campy. Some were horribly campy. But that camp is so ingrained in the mythos around Godzilla now that it might be a mistake to try to escape it entirely...especially if the alternative is to make a "dark and gritty" Godzilla movie, and given the man's writing history, I can't help but to at least wonder just how dark he is going to try to make Godzilla.
It should also be noted that it has been confirmed that there will be two other monsters in the movie. From my understanding, these will be new monsters, not returning monsters from the Toho stable. This also makes it harder for me to believe that they are trying to distance themselves so far from the camp of the Godzilla movies, since, outside of maybe Godzilla Raids Again, most, if not all, of the Godzilla vs movies are at least a little bit campy.
"Sam Witwer: Is Godzilla going to represent a different kind of metaphor, something that we're dealing with as a culture? ...
Frank Darabont: I think there is, but I do believe that there's a margin of interpretation, as Drew mentioned earlier. I love leaving a few crumbs on the table for the audience to determine what they think. Let them bring something to it as well. That's why a movie like The Green Mile is so satisfying or why The Mist is so satisfying to me. Because it stirs their participation and they have interpretation. I've heard metaphors that people apply to Shawshank Redemption, for example, that are fantastic that I never, ever would have thought of. And I say, you know what? You are absolutley right. That is exactly what it means to you. And how satisfying for me to have served you this meal and you identify flavors in it that I never even intended. That's one of the great rewards of what we do.
Are you looking to connect it to a different contemporary issue?
Frank Darabont: Yes I am, but I'm not going to give it away."
Now, I can forgive Darabont for dropping the name of three major films he worked on (Shawshank Redemption, The Mist, and The Green Mile), but, for me personally, they are not films I want compared to a film for a Godzilla movie. Again, I'd rather see a little camp in there than to have it go the opposite direction and have it go dark and gritty.
And then don't get me started on the turning Godzilla into a modern metaphor. What in the world could you make Godzilla a metaphor of that could measure up to the atomic bomb? Global warming and climate change? Several Godzilla movies (such as Godzilla vs Hedorah and Godzilla and Mothra: Battle for Earth) have already done that in such a heavy handed manner they could have doubled for Captain Planet episodes. What else could it be? War? The economic recession? Insert random political thing here? The director, Gareth Edwards, already had a monster movie with a subtext on immigration issues in the form of Monsters (which I thought was alright). Whatever it is, I just hope they don't go hamfisted with it. It worked in the original Godzilla, but I can't see a modern issue that can measure up to the atomic bombings.
So, there it is. Maybe it's healthy for me to have my fanboyism toned down a bit, but I can't help to feel a bit more wary about the upcoming film after this interview. However, from the comments I read, it appears that I am in the distinct minority. Maybe the days of the classic, campy monster bash are over, and the days of the darker, gritter monster rampages are the future, and that is the way people want it. At any rate, it is still over a year until the movie comes out, so I should probably just relax and go back to being impatient for the ComicCon teaser trailer to be released.