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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

8 Larger-Than-Life Things We Learned on the Set of 'Godzilla'

From Yahoo

"Uh oh, that guy looks really injured! Impressive."

"Yeah, he's doing much better than those ladies, they're overdoing it with the limping."

It is a perfectly mild and sunny summer day in Vancouver and Yahoo Movies has happened upon a group of bruised and battered individuals slowly extracting themselves from a pile of rubble which used to resemble a building. No, we're not cruelly making light of a dire situation, we're watching the second unit on Gareth Edwards' "Godzilla" capture one of many aftermath scenes in which a 400-foot creature has laid waste to his surroundings.

That there is plenty of large-scale destruction in the film should be encouraging for fans of the original monster movies. As we learned on the set, up-and-coming director Edwards ("Monsters") and his leading men Bryan Cranston ("Breaking Bad") and Aaron Taylor Johnson ("Kick-Ass") clearly want to stay true to the character's mythos, while also exploring new territory.

Here are eight more things we learned on set of this new monster mash:

1. Don't Call It A Comeback (Or Prequel)

"It is an origin story, Edwards said. "It's not about having seen another film to understand this movie. It's supposed to be the beginning. But it doesn't just take place in modern times. There are other aspects to it."

Those "other aspects" include a story grounded in reality with an emotional core. We kept hearing a "Close Encounters"-Meets-"Black Hawk Down" comparison thrown around.

"For me, a monster movie just for the sake of being a monster movie can kind of become a pointless exercise," Edwards said. "So it's about finding the right symbolism in what he represents and trying to find a storyline that expresses that. And I'm really pleased with the playground we're playing in because I think it's very much on theme."

2. There Will Be Death and Destruction, Natch

Going back to the aforementioned post-Godzilla attack scene, there will be a lot of those in the movie. While touring the production's "war room," in which they have on display key art, 3D models, and storyboards, we saw plenty of monstrous destruction that takes places all over the world. The film's multiple settings include Japan, the United States, the Philippines, and Marshall Islands.

But it's not destruction for destruction's sake.

"It's real but it's not gratuitous," said producer Mary Parent. "It's not like there's any softening. You'll feel the reality of the situation and you do see people that die but I don't think we'll have any trouble with our rating. People do die but you don't see Godzilla step on a kid or anything. There's a lot of monster action, too, and ... there are other creatures."

3. Godzilla vs. ?

Speaking of those other creatures, we know they're in the film, we just don't know what they are exactly.

"I'm not sure what I can and cannot say, but it was really important that we didn't do a Godzilla movie where it wasn't just one creature," Edwards explained. "Because you can quickly run out of people pointlessly trying to fire upon and stop [this thing], which is why Toho movies were always [Godzilla] versus something else, and the whole franchise or whatever you want to call it was involved in the creatures. So when you get into it, you have to make that choice that you mentioned and we made a choice. Without giving too much away, it's not as simple as that. It's not as simplistic as 'Is there a good or a bad?'"

4. Man vs. Nature

So who created the monster? Us or them or Mother Nature? Edwards said that one of the strongest themes in the film is the exploration of those ideas.

"There are definitely very strong themes that hark back to the original 1954 'Godzilla,'" Edwards said. "It's the "Man v. Nature that comes through a lot, it's a recurring theme on the set today the way that nature always wins. You can't control nature. When we start thinking we can control nature, that's when it all starts to go wrong. And that happens a lot in our movie. You see it quite a bit, that is our arrogance always comes back to bite us."

5. Cranston's Perfectly Weird Science

Coming off his critically acclaimed and award-winning run on "Breaking Bad," star Bryan Cranston wasn't out there looking to sign on to a potential blockbuster, but Edwards convinced him otherwise.

"At first I was a little reticent, just because of the overall nature of it," Cranston said. "I was coming off of a very well-written show with a very compelling storytelling that's going to be compared to whatever I do. Then I thought that I didn’t want to be a prude about it either. I want to be able to embrace the largesse of it, the uniqueness of it, and the fun! I don’t want to say, ‘Oh no no, that’s not high-brow in any regard!’ What won me over is the storyline and Gareth’s commitment."

Being that Cranston's character is a scientist trying to figure out where the heck this creature came from vs. his son (Taylor-Johnson)'s role with the military forces trying to contain it, we wondered: Does Cranston get in on the Godzilla attack action or is he a casual observer?

"Oh, I see some action," he said. "Some ‘hot scientist’ action! Some 'scientist-on-scientist' action. You can’t miss it!"

6. Reality Bites

Fans of the other films looking to see some of that classic camp or humor might need to search elsewhere, because Edwards' take is a serious one.

"It’s more sort of thriller, with drama and passion," Taylor-Johnson said of the film's comedy-free tone. "Emotionally in scenes I think I’ve been challenged more so in this than most dramas I’ve been in. Which is kind of the reason I wanted to be a part of it. I knew Gareth had such a strong idea of having it feel a lot more full of heart and soul and he wanted to attack those emotions. My [character's] journey is trying to get my family back together while this thing is causing havoc across the world."

And how is Mr. Cranston as a father?

"I suppose that’s a question for his kids," Taylor-Johnson joked. "Bryan’s f--king brilliant. He’s the most professional actor I’ve worked with in a long time. He brings so much energy and preparation, he’s always exploring new bits within a scene and giving ideas. He’s very giving. A warm, wonderful man. He’s really incredible, super funny. It’s been great, I couldn’t have asked for anything better."

7. It Was NOT Great Working With Godzilla

"That guy, such an a--hole," Cranston joked about his CGI co-star. "I gotta tell you, when he gets on the set, he delivers though, so I see why he keeps coming back to make movie after movie, because he’s good. He’s just a prick."

8. The First Rule of Godzilla Is Don't Say 'Godzilla'

Despite our best efforts to prove otherwise, it seems as though the titular character might not be named in the film.

"I haven’t said the word. I’m not allowed to," Cranston admitted when asked if he gets to say the classic "Look! It's Godzilla!" line. "What’s funny is that there was a lot of secrecy about the whole thing, and early on they were calling it 'Nautilus,' so I’m going through Canadian immigration, and trying to get my paperwork, and the guy was very efficient. ‘What are you working on?’ ‘A movie.’ ‘What’s the name of the movie?’ ‘Nautilus.’ And that’s when his eyes went up. ‘You mean "Godzilla."’ And I go,’ Yeah.’ But even he knew!"

Edwards said at the time he was undecided about whether or not to actually call out Godzilla in the movie.

"We're still playing with a couple of them," he said. "But I think it's just as good to never say his name out loud. We're going to have it on every single poster and every single trailer everywhere, there's something more ethereal about a person you don't really label. It's so obvious to say, 'It's Godzilla,' and we have the same problem in a lot of scenes. How do you talk about this thing? Is it a thing? Is it a creature? Is it a monster? Is it an organism? Is it an animal? And we kind of use all of those, and wait for the right moment to use the actual name gag."
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