Even after Wonder Woman 1984 arrived in December, audiences are still hungry for massive blockbuster action. Thankfully, Warner Bros. Pictures and HBO Max will be giving it to us throughout the year, both in theaters and on the WarnerMedia streaming service. One of the first huge blockbusters out of the gate under this new deal will be Godzilla vs. Kong, recently bumped up from a May release to earlier in March. If the first Godzilla vs Kong trailer is any indicator, this is going to be an absolute blast.
Godzilla seems to have turned on humanity, but nobody knows why. That’s where King Kong comes into play. Captured on Skull Island, the full-grown ape now matches the size of Godzilla, and humanity needs him to stop the lizard’s path of destruction, making for an epic, destructive battle. This first trailer gives us a glimpse at two of the fights between the titular titans, one that happens in the middle of the ocean on an aircraft carrier like some kind of arcade game. The other unfolds in a neon cityscape, which we’re assuming is Tokyo, and it gives us one of the most badass moments in the entire trailer.
On the human side of the story, Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things) reprises her role from Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Along with Julian Dennison (Deadpool 2) and Brian Tyree Henry (If Beale Street Could Talk), she believes that there’s some mysterious reason that Godzilla has turned against humanity, and she’s dedicated to figuring it out. Then there’s Rebecca Hall, who appears to be an expert on King Kong. She also shares a bit of a bond with the giant ape, because they’ve both taken to protecting a young orphan girl, one who seems to be the key to getting Kong to fight Godzilla on behalf of the humans.
This looks like a huge 1990s blockbuster in the best way possible. I’m getting Independence Day vibes mixed with Pacific Rim. The music in the trailer alone got me pumped as hell. It doesn’t match the throwback vibe of the movie, but it underscores the battle between these two titans so perfectly. Hopefully there’s a decent story here to go along with all the blockbuster spectacle.
Godzilla vs. Kong is directed by Adam Wingard (You’re Next, Blair Witch) with a script from Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein. The rest of the cast includes Alexander Skarsgård (Big Little Lies), Shun Oguri (Gintama), Eiza González (Baby Driver), Jessica Henwick (Iron Fist), Kyle Chandler (The Wolf of Wall Street), and Demian Bichir (The Nun).
Legends collide in Godzilla vs. Kong as these mythic adversaries meet in a spectacular battle for the ages, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. Kong and his protectors undertake a perilous journey to find his true home, and with them is Jia, a young orphaned girl with whom he has formed a unique and powerful bond. But they unexpectedly find themselves in the path of an enraged Godzilla, cutting a swath of destruction across the globe. The epic clash between the two titans—instigated by unseen forces—is only the beginning of the mystery that lies deep within the core of the Earth.
While beating each other to a pulp, Godzilla and King Kong – two titans who find themselves at odds with each other in the new Legendary/Warner Bros. MonsterVerse movie Godzilla vs. Kong – roar directly in each other’s faces. It’s a moment that makes director Adam Wingard (You’re Next, The Guest, Blair Witch) “teary-eyed,” though he acknowledges it’s an odd moment in the film to get emotional. Still, “every time I watch it, I’m like, ‘This is what it’s all about,'” he told us in a recent interview. “All the work, the three years that I put into this thing. All the heartache and the worry, it’s all worth it for this one moment right here, because this is what everybody’s paying to see.”
Read our full interview with Wingard below, which discusses the unique way he got the directing job on this monster-sized film, the visually distinctive neon city fight sequence, the challenges of post-production, and the element of the film he’s the most proud of.
Well, there was never actually a formal pitch, if you can imagine that. Which sounds crazy for such a gigantic movie. But I think in a lot of ways, the reason for that, we have to travel back in time to 2013 or so when You’re Next was about to come out in theaters. Somehow, Peter Jackson had seen an early version of You’re Next, and he was interested in me directing a sequel to his King Kong film. It was just going to be called Skull Island. Simon Barrett was going to write it. Mary Parent, who runs Legendary now and produced this movie, was on board with that. But this movie was set up at Universal, and the King Kong rights somehow ended up at Warner Bros. That movie went to the wayside, and so did I. In a long roundabout way, I think getting that vote of confidence from Peter Jackson stuck in Mary Parent’s mind.
So I just had a general meeting with her in 2017. It’s really one of those things where, as a filmmaker, you really have to take all of those general meetings. This is a big lesson to me because I remember the day of the meeting, I was in editorial working on my last film and I’m sitting there at two in the afternoon and my assistant comes in and says, “Are you ready for that general meeting at Legendary in an hour?” and I’m like, “General meeting? I don’t remember that.” We were really busy. I was like, “Maybe we should just cancel it. We’ve got so much work to do today.” Then I thought, “Well, you know what, I should just go do it. I haven’t done a general meeting in a while because I’ve been working so hard on this movie.” So I almost didn’t go, but I did, and that’s how we started talking about the fact that they were thinking about Godzilla vs. Kong and I raised my hand immediately and said, “I’m very interested in that.”
I can’t remember everything we talked about in that general meeting. The main image that popped in my head right away in the moment was I remember telling Mary that I wanted to see Godzilla and King Kong in a futuristic, neon city with synthwave music playing, and I wanted to see Godzilla chasing Kong around with his nuclear breath in this city. I remember talking about that, and that’s obviously a main set piece that made it into the film and was probably one of the first things we developed visually for the movie.
The only thing that had existed for the film at that point was Terry Rossio had run a writers’ room for the movie and he had a three to five page outline that was very informal. I think even on his outline, he didn’t call it a treatment, he called it the “Godzilla vs. Kong proposal.” He had a lot of the main set pieces and structure already there. So it had all these great ideas. And fortunately, it had an ending that took place in a big, futuristic city, so I thought, “That’s perfect. That’s already syncing up. That’s a good sign.” Things like the ship battle, the details weren’t in there, but the idea that that’s where one of the action scenes is going to take place [was there], and the sense of the film being a journey into Hollow Earth. All of those things were kind of there and then from that point on, I started meeting with Terry and we would notecard the whole movie. We had a Legendary boardroom to ourselves and we filled them up with every scene and got into more and more detail about how I wanted to approach them as a director, and we came up with all these nuances. Then he went off to write the script. So it was really nice to be there working from the ground up on this thing.
You mentioned that neon city set piece. That’s one of my favorite moments in the movie. It’s so visually distinctive. I think that’s one of the big complaints a lot of us have about modern blockbusters: they have that dull look. Where’s the fun? I love that it doesn’t really make sense that every single skyscraper in Hong Kong is outfitted with a different color of neon, but it looks so cool. Talk about your use of color here and what you were able to do with that in this movie.
I think we’re going to be moving into a new phase of blockbusters, and I think we have been over the past few years. Maybe what really kicked it off was Avatar, and it took a while for everybody to catch up to it. You look at James Wan’s Aquaman: that movie is the most psychedelic thing I’ve seen in theaters in a while. I think we’ve gotten past the point where special effects movies need to be so geared toward making you believe that the reality is real. We believe Godzilla is real because Gareth Edwards really brilliantly was able to give us a palette cleanser from the ’98 Godzilla film with his movie, and he really put it in a reality that we could believe. But it’s not one of those things that you want to just see over and over again. Once you believe Godzilla is real, where do you go from [there]? The MonsterVerse films have kind of followed this natural trajectory that the original Showa era Godzilla films did, which was the very first Godzilla movie, for its time, was very grounded and real and depressing and tragic and very much a disaster movie. Then they slowly got more psychedelic and trippy and cartoony and colorful as time went on. I’m kind of the Destroy All Monsters era, I think those type of films, if I had to pick one. A film that’s very colorful.
Even the way we approached the special effects – we had a lot of discussions early on that I knew I wanted the fight scenes to be really high-octane and very fast. I wanted it to be unpredictable, as though you’re watching a street fight in an alleyway. The problem with that, though, is that normally, when you’re trying to show off scale of creatures that are 300-foot plus, the way to do that is to artificially slow them down and give them a slow motion look so you get more of the size and the weight of them. We did a lot of tests, and what we realized is that if we slowed down all the debris and the smoke and the broken glass falling from the sky, kept those at that same type of slow motion pace, that gives you a feeling of the scale. But we kept the monsters, for the most part, moving very quickly. What I like about it is that it gives almost a modern day stop-motion feel. It doesn’t look a hundred percent real, but it looks really interesting in the same way that, for instance, the original King Kong’s effects hold up nowadays: not because they look hyperrealistic or anything, they just look beautiful and interesting and they get the idea across.
Was there anything that surprised you when it came to the post-production process for this film, maybe any plot lines that you discovered you didn’t actually need despite shooting scenes for them?
It’s interesting, because you always hear these stories of these Hollywood blockbuster movies that start without a finished script and they have like 15-20 writers, and you think, “Why is that?” It&rsq
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