So if you’ve been out of the loop for a bit then maybe you’ve missed Legendary’s latest kaiju news. Yes, they are rebooting Godzilla. I mean, we all knew it was inevitable. Someone was going to try to resurrect the classic franchise at some point and for Legendary this Godzilla reboot comes hot on the heels of the fantastic and pretty freakin’ epic Pacific Rim. But while the staff her at Nerdophiles absolutely loved Pacific Rim, are we going to be able to open our hearts to yet another kaiju film? Especially one with such a mottled pedigree as Godzilla?
I don’t think there is anything wrong with approaching this new film with a healthy amount of skepticism.
Back in 1998 most movie goers were pretty disappointed by the attempted reboot from Roland Emmerich featuring Matthew Broderick and an otherwise forgettable cast. And while Pacific Rim is a fantastic film and likely the penacle of what the genre can accomplish it hasn’t exactly done well at the box office. It’s still struggling to recoup it’s production costs.
And yet, after San Diego Comic Con, I am genuinely looking forward to the next Godzilla movie. Part of it is because of what we’ve learned about the film so far and how it hopes to blend the indie feel of a character driven movie with the destruction and chaos of a giant monster film.
But mostly it’s because of the Godzilla Experience.
Not to be out done by other off-site experiences like the Ender’s Game Experience, the Vikings Causeway, and the Jackdaw – Legendary rented out a warehouse a few blocks from the convention center and put together their own little interactive exhibit. Having absolutely no idea what we were about to experience, Therese and I decided to go along for the ride. I mean, why not, right? The passes were nearly impossible to get (you had to get a voucher for a pass which were handed out randomly and then had to later go back to the Legendary booth for the actual pass at a later time) and I only got mine due to the kindness of a stranger with an extra voucher. But we had heard it was “cool” and that gave us some hope.
On entering, you don’t immediately see why this experience is so cool. The exterior of the building was pretty awesomely designed as if it had been damaged in a kaiju attack. But the interior at first seemed to be more of a walk through exhibit much like the Ender’s Game experience. There was an overturned police car, some original props from the first movies, and all sorts of other images and designs set around what was made up to look like a Tokyo street that had been ravaged by Godzilla.
There was also a ramen bar with a Japanese salaryman.
Yeah, there was a salaryman sitting at a ramen bar on that very street that led into a little room covered in manga and comic book illustrations and artwork of Godzilla with display cases of memorabilia and what not. He even said hello as I passed by him. In Japanese, of course. Apparently he actually started pointing out things to stop people – in Japanese – if you tried to talk to him though other people on other walkthroughs just got glared at.
Therese and I were taking a picture at a photo op image in the manga room when suddenly alarms started going off and red lights started flashing. I turned around to see people in hazmat suits ushering the fifteen or twenty of us quickly into another room. Even the salaryman was up and helping to direct traffic. They led us into a control room area where soldiers were frantically trying to locate and identify some sort of destructive life form terrorizing San Diego. On the screens you could see news feeds of the city and the actors in the room kept trying to get people to flip switches and help them ‘locate’ the life form.
Well, we located it all right. The proximity alerts starts going off in the room and the tour guide who had been showing us around the earlier part of the experience started apologizing to us and swearing that as soon as we got up to the fortieth floor of the building (in reality it was maybe three stories) a helicopter would take us back to Comic Con and all would be well. So we all pile into this elevator which was potentially a real elevator because we did go upstairs. The elevator shook and rumbled and “stopped” on the “twenty-fifth” floor.
Once free of the elevator we exited into this high rise office building. One full wall was covered in screens which showed a rainy city scene. We could hear rumbling in the distance but we didn’t see anything for a while. Then someone shouted, “Over there!” and we could see Godzilla moving down a street maybe a block away. That was the first look we got at the monster. Mostly just of the head and neck. It’s vaguely sort of kinda like a mix of a T-Rex or Ankylosaur and a Komodo Dragon or Iguana or… something. I’m pretty bad at describing it.
We thought that might be our only look at it but we were very much mistaken. Just a few moments later Godzilla’s face showed up in the fake windows and we heard his signature screech before booking it out of the room and down the stairs.
I’m just saying that if Legendary and Warner Bros. can pull off something with that sort of excitement and attention to detail I think we’re going to be pretty well set. Of course they could still bungle it all entirely. But things like the Godzilla Experience at least show that they are really dedicated to promoting the film. With any luck it’ll actually be worthwhile, you know?
Here’s to hoping!