How to make an American monster movie



Godzilla is back. And it’s bigger than any of its earlier versions. Director Gareth Edwards’ recent reboot of the original 1954 film is a hit with fans (7.5/10 in IMDb for want of proof) and a much needed amendment for the last remake by Roland Emmerich in 1998 (remember Matthew Broderick and Jean Reno being chased by an oversized Iguana on the streets of New York? Yeah.. Cringe away)

Godzilla 2014 is a visual spectacle, no doubt. But take away all the layers of awesomeness surrounding the monster’s roar and stomping, the underlying theme is as formulaic as any Hollywood flick gets (spoilers alert):

  • Make America the epicentre of any attack, natural or supernatural. Give a damn if the monster originates from Japan
  • Centre the drama on a close-knit white American family where the father has hardly any time for his son
  • Kill the mother and make the father leaving emotionally responsible for her death till he dies
  • Son grows up to join the marines
  • Covert intelligence operation to cover up Godzilla even though it’s freaking 350 feet tall. They even have a cool acronym and logo despite being covert
  • Japanese scientist who forever sports a constipated look and he alone understands nature and its ways of balancing things
  • Japanese scientist can speak English quite well but can only say “Gojira”
  • Experienced miner who shines his torch on a prehistoric fossil and says: “I’ve been digging caves all my life and haven’t seen anything like this”
  • White army chief who loves to nuke everything and has a black deputy for racial balance
  • It’s 2014 and still the US president speaks to his army chief through a red-coloured hotline
  • Little kid on the beach is the first one to notice the sea receding and know something is coming out
  • Dog tied on a leash and keeps barking at the monster, never know whether it survives or not
  • Iconic landmark laid to waste. We’ll take the Golden Gate Bridge this time instead of Brooklyn
  • Monster is camouflaged in the dark, soldier says “everything clear” before it gets up to devour them
  • San Francisco is sent back to the Stone Age as the battle ensues but key family members will never die
  • CNN-like channel can only come up with ‘America under attack’ as its best headline, and towards the end ‘King of monsters: Saviour of our city?’ (Arnab’s ‘Nation Wants To Know’ seems classier)
  • Emotional connect between a wooden Aaron Taylor Johnson and Godzilla as they stare at each other for a few moments between the battle (get a room fellas)

Bottomline: It’s so darn easy to write a monster-movie script. All you will be short of is $160 million dollars and an ensemble cast who have received Oscar nominations

What you might not know:

Director Gareth Edwards grew up on Steven Spielberg movies and has learnt the latter’s art of restraint – he’ll keep you guessing for a long time before Godzilla actually appears

The look of the monster is a hark back to the original 1954 Japanese film. Godzilla’s head was modeled on bears, dogs and eagles rather than any lizards.

Godzilla’s roar is an improvement on the 1954 one which was essentially the sound of a leather glove coated in pine-tar resin being dragged over a double bass.

One of the original scripts for the movie was to show Godzilla trapped underneath frozen ice in Siberia before it comes to life again. Legendary pictures scrapped it so that it didn’t eerily look like a lift off from ‘Man of Steel’

Best part:

There’s a sequel in store. Wooo yeah!