Godzilla takes Vancouver

Even monster movies are getting gritty reboots these days. The trailer for a new Godzilla film, shot in the Vancouver area and coming to theatres in May, was released a few days ago and it looks like the unjolly green giant is going to finish the task of destroying the city attempted by disappointed Canucks fans two and a half years ago.

Vancouver is rumoured to be standing in for San Francisco this time around but the digitally altered city is barely recognizable in the teaser video, in which doomed commandos HALO jump into battle with everyone’s favourite fire-breathing dinosaur.

Along with at the Convention Centre, Steveston and Nanaimo, director Gareth Edwards (Monsters, End Day) also shot scenes in historic New Westminster, much of which recently burnt down due to non-Godzilla reasons. Judging by the movie poster, the Coal Harbour area takes the brunt of Godzilla’s wrath, so it’s probably a good thing the condo towers are all mostly unoccupied.

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If you don’t count Cloverfield, this will be the first Godzilla movie since the disastrous 1998 version starring Ferris Buehler, Jean Reno and the guy who does the voices for Moe, Chief Wiggum and Apu. With nearly 30 installments in total, Godzilla movies have become one of the best-known examples of Japanese cinema along with anime, Kurosawa’s samurai classics and weird tentacle porn.

Godzilla, or Gojira in Japan, was the country’s very first kaiju (giant creature feature) and is widely considered a masterpiece. The 1954 film’s stark black and white images of urban destruction reflected the aftermath of the atomic bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and radioactive fallout weighed heavily on the Japanese collective consciousness.

The story goes that Toho Studios producer Tomoyuki Tanaka was inspired by both the box office success of King Kong and the story of Japanese tuna fishermen who were fatally poisoned by American nuclear testing in the South Pacific, which caused widespread international panic over the consumption of potentially radioactive fish. Somehow this became the inspiration for “Gojira,” a mutated hybrid of a gorilla (gorira) and a whale (kujira) prone to decimating Tokyo.

Nearly three years after the Fukushima disaster, radiation poisoning is obviously still a hot topic, and Edwards says the new Godzilla is meant to be a “representation of the wrath of nature” and “the punishment we deserve.”

Although it’s difficult to imagine punishment worse than Sean Combs butchering a Led Zeppelin song from the 1998 version’s soundtrack.

(© Copyright (c) Vancouver Courier)

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