While the latest American interpretation of Godzilla in 2014 was a moderate financial success, critics and fans were mostly lukewarm on this new version.
Personally, I enjoyed Godzilla ’14 but it definitely did suffer from a number of problems. The pacing dragged to a halt at several points and while I am a proponent for “less is more”, there were too many Godzilla teases and not enough actual Godzilla. But most of all, I think the abrupt demise of the film’s best character and actor at the end of the first act was its biggest downfall.
Bryan Cranston’s presence was sorely missed throughout the rest of the film and Aaron Taylor Johnson’s character and performance didn’t give the audience enough of an emotional core to keep their attention when monsters weren’t knocking down buildings.
So, how can we take this “pretty decent” interpretation of Godzilla and transform it into the King of Monsters we truly wanted?
Let’s find out.
Here’s Godzilla 2014 reimagined.
Our opening credits take us on a trip through nuclear history, starting with news reports and footage of the bombs being dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We are taken through the major nuclear accidents of the 20th century including the 3 Mile Island and Chernobyl. The last shot lingers on a grainy photo of what appear to be a series of massive spikes jutting out of the ocean.
1999 – We open much the same as the real film in the fictional city of Janjira, Japan. John Brody, chief engineer of the Janjira Nuclear Plant is woken in the middle of the night by a call from his supervisor, Takashi, who informs him of a problem at the plant – the tremors have started again and they’re getting worse.
John wakes his wife, Sandra, and together, they get ready to leave, bantering playfully as they do, though we can tell they’re both nervous. The air of suspense and tension is established early but we do get to see that they are a loving couple, perfectly suited to each other as they trade good natured barbs back and forth. I want the audience to fall in love with Sandra before they even leave their house.
Their bustling wakes up their son, Ford, who sleepily asks what’s going on. We can see that he’s cradling a small, crudely constructed wooden dinosaur figure – probably something his father carved for him. John tells him not to worry and to go back to sleep. They’ll be back soon.
At the plant, John tries to get a handle of the situation and sends Sandra down to check out what’s going on with the reactor. After he studies the tremor, he tells Takeshi to shut everything down – this isn’t an earthquake, it’s a seismic anomaly and he doesn’t want to take any chances.
However, it’s too late. The entire plant begins to shake and the reactor begins to overload. John rushes down to save Sandra but the reactor has already ruptured. He has to quarantine the area, trapping Sandra underneath. A horrified John witnesses her final moments. She begs him to take care of their son as she breathes her last. John breaks down and falls to his knees but is dragged away as the plant begins to collapse.
Once John is outside the building, the chaos reaches a crescendo. A sudden and immense tidal wave washes over the facility, decimating everything in its path. At the same time, the plant seems to simply erupt, sending a shockwave of debris flying in every direction. In the ensuing pandemonium, a shell shocked John manages to escape but he sees what appears to be a gargantuan mass of shadow rising from the smoking wreckage before disappearing into the ocean. John sees what seem like giant black spikes fading into the darkness before we cut to black.
2. 15 Years Later
2014 – We see an older, grizzled John aboard a boat headed towards an unknown island. He has a team with him who all seem to be excited about a potential new discovery of some sort. The team provides a colorful cast of supporting characters including a former Navy SEAL, an eccentric biologist, a tech expert and John’s former boss, Takeshi, who we see had lost an arm during the plant’s collapse.
As they approach the island, Takashi speaks with John and we find out that he agreed to fund this expedition not only as a favour to John but also to find answers. However, he is concerned that this mission has consumed John’s life. John gruffly dismisses this idea and snarls at Takeshi, urging him to focus on the task at hand. They explore the island and find a massive cavern.
All except John are shocked to find two massive corpses in perfect condition, each the size of a cruise ship. Whatever it is, it looks like some colossal cross between an arachnid and a dinosaur. John’s biologist expresses incredulity that the bodies are still in such good condition, musing that the durability of this creature’s cells must be incredible. She’s also shocked that they managed to find two of the beasts but John shakes his head. They haven’t found two creatures. They’ve only found one.
Something ripped it in half.
3. Prodigal Son
We jump to a disaster site where a tidal wave and subsequent nuclear plant meltdown have devastated a South Korean coastal city. A small child is lost in the wreckage and is about to be swept away when a chopper swoops down for a last minute rescue. Once they are back to safety, the pilot removes his helmet to comfort the poor kid.
This is Ford Brody, all grown up. In this version, he’s no longer a bomb technician, instead he’s a disaster rescue pilot. Ford returns to their base of operations and that night, he video calls his wife and son. We see that he’s a loving father who wants nothing more than to return home. He’s interrupted by a knock on his door and as he closes his laptop, John Brody walks into the room.
The atmosphere is immediately tense. It’s clear that they haven’t seen each other in years. After an awkward, stilted conversation, John tells Ford that he knows for sure now that Janjira wasn’t an earthquake. It was caused by a creature – a monster. Ford won’t hear a word of it until John shows him the photographs he took of the monster from the island. He then shows him photos of the tunnels underneath the island. John explains that these are subterranean creatures from an ecosystem predating even the dinosaurs. They feed off energy and they caused the reactor to blow. They killed Sandra. John wants Ford to come with him to Janjira so they can get answers together.
To John’s surprise, Ford agrees. He’s still not sure whether he believes John. But if it means he can get closure then Ford will indulge him one last time. On one condition – if this is another wild goose chase, John drops this crusade for good.
John introduces Ford to his team and they return to Janjira where John confirms his suspicions that the area is no longer polluted. They return to John’s former home and for a moment, John is overwhelmed by emotion. It’s exactly the same as it was the day Sandra died. He retrieves the wooden dinosaur figure from Ford’s room but before they can leave, they are surrounded by soldiers with guns. John urges his team to get on their knees immediately. As soon as they surrender, they are cuffed and black bagged.
The soldiers bring the team to a facility underneath the wreckage of the nuclear plant where each of them are interrogated. They question John about the research and photographs they found in his bag. John angrily tells them to let him go. He knows what’s going on here and if they don’t allow him to speak to whoever is in charge, they could all die. He was at Janjira during the incident. He knows about the monsters. He knows about the cover up.
And he knows that the same thing is about to happen again.
We go deeper into the facility and see what appears to be a massive, building sized egg being studied by more scientists. There’s a Japanese man watching the egg who seems concerned about the readings their instruments are picking up. He says that they were sure the organism had died years ago but now, it seems to have resurrected spontaneously.
One of the soldiers hands the man the files they retrieved from John and after reading them, he rushes to the interrogation room. The man introduces himself to John as Doctor Serizawa.
Serizawa asks John what he means when he says that the incident will re-occur. John tells Serizawa to look through his notes – he’s been monitoring the seismic patterns and the electromagnetic readings around Janjira. The exact same anomalies from 15 years ago are happening again.
Before Serizawa can respond, the building begins to shake. He runs back to the egg chamber and to his horror, he sees that it is beginning to hatch. Serizawa hesitates for a moment before telling his men to terminate the organism. They begin to electrocute the egg but it fails and an insect like creature erupts from the egg. It begins to tear through the facility like a hot knife through butter.
In the ensuing chaos, John escapes and finds his son. They escape from the facility and reunite with the rest of the team just in time to witness the creature bursting through the rubble. The soldiers begin to bombard it with bullets and missiles but it’s completely unaffected. John watches, horrified but he realises that this is not the same creature he saw fifteen years ago.
In the ensuing chaos, Takashi is crushed to death and they are forced to flee. John finds Serizawa and they all escape on a chopper that Ford is able to pilot. As they lift off, they see the monster dive into the ocean, leaving nothing but carnage in its wake.
They land at a nearby high tech facility where Serizawa explains that he represents Monarch – an organisation established to study “Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms” AKA. MUTOs. He shows them their research on the MUTOs and how they are connected to the incident 15 years ago.
The MUTOs used to feed on Earth’s natural radiation but as the world change and the radiation lessened, they retreated underground to be closer to the Earth’s core. However, in the 20th century they began to wake up. We see the images of huge monsters paralleled with images of nuclear incidents and disasters, similar to what we saw in the opening credits.
John questions how Monarch possibly managed to stop these monsters. Serizawa simply replies that they didn’t. He flips to the next slide.
6. I Am Become Death
John looks like he’s seen a ghost. That’s it. That’s the demon he saw the night his wife died.
Serizawa explains that each time a MUTO resurfaced, it was killed by an alpha predator protecting its territory. Fifteen years ago, a MUTO laid its egg underneath the Janjira nuclear plant. The alpha predator sniffed it out, tore apart the plant to find it and then killed it. The MUTO from the island was most likely its partner, which the alpha predator ripped apart as well.
The alpha predator is a creature who will eliminate anything it considers a threat to his territory. Every time a new threat appears, it is swiftly and brutally eradicated. The only reason our species still exists is because he has deemed us too insignificant to care about.
Humans consider themselves special because they have the power to shape their ecosystem as they see fit. Yet they only survive because this creature allows it. He doesn’t exist in our world. We exist in his kingdom.
And with the awakening of the MUTO, the alpha predator will rise again.
The room is silent for some time as they stare at the image on the screen.
Civilisations across history have had many names for this entity. Many have worshipped it as a deity – as both protector and destroyer of worlds.
We call it Godzilla.
John stands suddenly, his hands trembling. He tries to speak, but no words will come out. Ford watches him carefully and then turns to Serizawa. He asks Serizawa what happens to them if this thing decides that humans are a threat.
Serizawa simply smiles and shakes his head before saying three simple words:
End of days.
Miles away, in the depths of the ocean, we see the sea bed begin to crack and shake. A colossal mass rises from the depths, like a mountain given life.
The creature’s head, still shrouded in darkness, breaks through the surface. It fills the entire screen. It’s titanic, impossibly, mind blowingly huge. It opens its maw and unleashes a terrible cry that seems to shake the very air around it. Hell, it shakes the very theatre the audience is in. People watching have to cover their ears and cower in their seats.
Godzilla is awake.
And he’s coming.
Part 2 coming soon!