In this issue: Where it all started: Ishirô Honda’s Godzilla Gareth Edward’s Monsters Where it all went wrong: Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla
ON THE EDGE FILMS
ISSUE #1: GODZILLA
The Return of Kaiju #1: Godzilla (2014)
Volume 2, issue 1 May/ June
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Welcome to On The Edge Films A message from the editor, Josh Senior On The Edge Films is a fledgling venture which seeks to give young film writers a platform to be creative and express themselves. Back in 2012 I started OTE as part of a module at University. It has since transformed from an assignment into my greatest achievement. I have a fantastic team of writers from all different backgrounds who constantly supply me with reviews and articles that push the scope of film writing on a weekly basis. When it came to launching our first issue we couldn’t think of a better film to climb on the back of than Godzilla. After all he is one of cinema’s most recognisable icons. We formulated this issue around Gareth Edward’s revival and used his three key tasks 1. To pay tribute to the Japanese original 2. To build an impressive follow up to his debut Monsters and 3. To abolish all memories of Roland Emmerich’s version as our framework. Over the next few pages we’ll take you on that journey. We are proud to support Godzilla and we are proud to have made this issue. Thank you for picking it up and enjoy reading what’s inside!!!
Cover artist– Gethin Oliver Gethin is a freelance graphic artist, designer and illustrator situated along the south-coast of England. His work follows an exploration through hand-rendered and digital illustration, which can be experienced within a myriad of artistic avenues. Through working closely with the fields of music, film, street apparel and environmental design, Gethin has built up a portfolio filled with exciting imagery which not only aims to please the viewer, but engage them with quirky ideas and satire. The young university graduate also works with a passion for building towards our sustainable future. Through projects exploring the impact humanity has on our environment, he has helped raise awareness for charities and organizations related to the protection of the Artic as well as the Amazon Rainforest. Gethin will be displaying his work at the Plymouth College of Art Summer Show in June before heading down to London for the New Designers exhibition in July. At these shows, he will be displaying work in the fields of children’s book illustration, innovations for interior design, as well as educational devices for environmental sustainability. Gethin is continuously working on personal, commissioned and collaborative designs while building a brand that reflects his own ideals, interests and passions. www.behance.net/gethinoliver www.godesign.bigcartel.com firstname.lastname@example.org @gezlightning
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Where it all started: Ishirô Honda’s Godzilla By Benjamin Halford
Under the direction of leading sci-fi director Ishirô Honda, there's an air intensity about the film right from the start, with the pulsating (and actually still rather modern-sounding) theme from Akira Ifukube whilst Godzilla roars over the music. Out at sea, a ship Honda's style is economical, like many of civilians is sunk films of its kind, what character developin a massive explo- ment there is is carried along in an eversion and on a visit moving plot. Still, interesting side characto a nearby island a ters appear, most notably Serizawa, a team of scientists scarred and eye patch-wearing scientist learn about the ex- representing the trepidation surrounding istence of the progress of modern science and Yama"Gojira" (Godzilla) ne, an older and more in some ways ambia massive beast who terrorises the island from time to time tious scientist played by a favourite of and who is given a sacrifice in order to improve fishing, acHonda's friend and contemporary Akira cording to the locals. At first, Godzilla is nothing more than a Kurosawa, Takashi Shimura. A brilliant curiosity and a minor level threat, but then the beast arrives and expressive actor as shown here, in Sevin Tokyo, looking to destroy mankind, who has awoken his en Samurai and his leading role in Ikiru. rage by running tests of nuclear weapons. Yes, the Godzilla franchise is a monster of It becomes very clear early on that Godzilla could be read as an allegory for the darker side of Japanese history in the 20th century up to that point. The obvious comparison leads to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (indeed, the bombing of Nagasaki is mentioned outright at one point in the film) there's also moments that lend comparisons to the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake that devastated Tokyo, controversies surrounding Japan's Axis-powers allegiance and the fire bombings on the same city during the war. Given that the film was released in 1954, as Japan was on the verge of the post-war economic miracle that would see it transformed from a European-influenced, partially-industrialised nation into an economic and technological powerhouse in its own right, the sense of an impending change is in the air, especially given the plan to take down Godzilla. But it is seen through a very tentative perspective. A nation scarred by war and tragedy that may, in order to survive, stumble right back into hardship.
its own, but Honda's 1954 original foray into the story of a giant reptile stomping Japan is a great feat in its own right, by bringing together a definite influence from 1933's King Kong and mirroring to Japan's own fears for its society, Godzilla is truly a marvel.
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Gareth Edwards’ Monsters By Liam Hathaway
Audiences should be fully aware that a new rendition of the classic Godzilla franchise is about to rear its monolithic reptilian head and kick-start the season of summer blockbusters which is quickly dawning upon us. Given that the previous Hollywood Godzilla production was the inconceivably dull 1998 monstrosity – Godzilla (2014) is a film which audiences can actually look forward to with optimism with it being helmed by Monsters (2010) director, Gareth Edwards. Gareth Edwards’ confident debut may have been released in the shadow of the subtly similar South African megahit – District 9, but Monsters undoubtedly remains as good a picture, perhaps even better. In hind sight.
The focus is the relationship that is forming between these two out-of-sorts characters as they spend time with each other – a relationship that is genuine as the actors got married in real-life. As for the scenes with Monsters – they are handled astonishingly; considering the budget, the effects are remarkable, yet subtle so to not overshadow the actual characters. Despite the film’s title, the glowing Octopi-like creatures somewhat resemble the mystical underwater aliens in James Cameron’s The Abyss – they are not really monstrous at all – to some, they may actually look beautiful. However, one genuinely tense sequence takes place inside of a stationary vehicle as the monsters are attacking outside – evoking the acclaimed ‘T-Rex vs. Jeep’ scene in Jurassic Park.
Firstly, its very modest budget of only $500,000 does not reflect on screen as Monsters genuinely looks as if it cost $15 - $25 million to make at least. Edwards is evidently a director who knows how to put every penny onto screen without cramming CGI onto every square inch of the frame or exploding everything.
In some respects, Edwards has created an ‘antimonster movie’ – the focal point of Monsters is not actually monsters – they are merely a normalized aspect of the diegesis and narrative which involves a photojournalist escorting his employer’s daughter to U.S. soil over quarantined territory.
Looking back, Monsters was an interesting feature and with Godzilla’s release date fast approaching (15/05/2014), fans can look forward to it with the knowledge that someone who has previously demonstrated real flair with a tight budget was sat in the director’s chair of the upcoming feature. Gareth Edwards has definitely proved himself morethan-capable, let us see if he can deliver on an even larger scale!
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Where it all went wrong: Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla By Liam Ball
Shameless Hollywood capitalism tends to rub people up the wrong way, especially when it comes to remaking established East Asian classics. What’s irksome about Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla is not that it’s a substandard redressing of a fantastic film, but that it ignorantly decontextualizes the monster which, in Ishirô Honda’s original, represents the terrors America inflicted upon Japan with the A-bomb. No matter where you stand on the politics of World War II, America in 1998 had never experienced anything on the scale of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings, and given that the monster originally symbolised the effects of a terror at the behest of the Americans, it’s unclear where the gall to remake Godzilla came from. Yet viewing the movie without regard to its roots doesn’t do it any favours either. It’s appearance at a time when the western world was rife with millennial dread positions Godzilla arrived squarely within a slew of big-budget disaster movies linked to fears of the Y2K bug, among them Twister, Deep Impact, Armageddon and Emmerich’s own Independence Day. Relevance barely comes into it, however, when the studio’s sole overbearing interest was to cash in on the success of Jurassic Park and its sequel. Co-writer and producer Dean Devlin would later suggest, in an interview with Bloody Disgusting, that Godzilla 98’s failure was entirely his own fault, decrying his one-liners-by-numbers script while vapidly praising Emmerich’s “amazing job at direction”. But don’t be fooled; Godzilla trudges through its oversized running time without ever arousing a single iota of tension, every dingy sequence completely lacking in vibrancy and zero charisma emitting from any of the actors. The downfall of this project was a disappointingly collaborative process. Certain individuals even seem to put less than no effort in, such as Jean Reno, who is capable of good things yet here acts as though he was out to single-handedly sabotage the entire movie. Too bad Emmerich and Devlin beat him to the punch; Godzilla’s only qualities were its special effects, impressive for 1998 yet rendered as flat and dull as the rest of the film as time progressed. What’s left is an often cringe-worthy portrayal of astonishing human stupidity and bizarre logic, such as when weedy little Matthew Broderick manages to kick a 9-foot baby Godzilla out of a lift; but even then, the movie doesn’t have the decency to be laughably bad. It’s just flatly, flatulently terrible. Your move, Gareth Edwards.
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The Return of Kaiju #1: Godzilla circa’ 2014 By Josh Senior
Since Warner Brothers acquired the rights to Godzilla in 2010 the question has lingered “how do you make Godzilla a marketable and interesting commodity again?” This is particularly difficult considering the less than tepid 1998 incarnation from Roland Emmerich. Since then Godzilla has gathered dust on the movie shelf. Now, Godzilla lives. Yet, by all rights this newest iteration shouldn’t really exist. Directed by Gareth Edwards of low budget Monsters fame, written by the relatively unknown Max Borenstein and starring a cast of actors (Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor- Johnson, and Elizabeth Olsen) grounded in independent films and television, 2014’s Godzilla is an entirely different beast. The approach here has been to place the weight of expectancy for this cinematic behemoth in rather inexperienced hands. This take on the Godzilla story refreshes the character’s Japanese/ Honda origins and pits him in the middle of a battle between mankind and other unnamed monster aggressors. We are forced to side with Godzilla who appears from the ocean’s depths like an old Samurai to re-establish Earth’s natural order. Edwards’ Godzilla is slightly a victim of indecision. It’s as if the director couldn’t decide between making the film strictly a blockbuster or a piece of high art.. It falls somewhere in between yet fails to satisfy either category. The film is broken into three acts noticeable for their apparent shift in genre from political thriller to high speed chase and ending up as the monster brawl it teases to become for over an hour. The film can’t decide which character is the lead, Bryan Cranston is cut criminally short and Aaron Taylor- Johnson assumes responsibility for the entirety of Earth’s safety with a series of death defying acts of self-sacrifice.
The faults detract from Edward’s intentions, outside of the leading cast characters feel underdeveloped and type cast. Merely there to sign post the action that takes place. Keith Watanabe’s scientist is there for the cultural link and to utter sections of prose famously repeated in the trailer. The pacing is rather clunky and attempts to build anticipation for the film’s final third. This however materialises into impatience as we await the monster showdown. Credit where credits due though Edwards and co. have come up with something that does manage to entertain and satisfy that itch that has needed a scratch since 98’. The ending sequence is fantastic and more than makes up for any niggling errors and dead pan performances. You become a part of mankind’s desperation as San Francisco is smashed to pieces. It makes a pertinent point about man’s attempts with creation, after all the monsters in the film feed off of energy we produce. When this finally clicks everyone turns to Godzilla for help and he is happy oblige our screams of terror (even if he instigates some of his own). If the job was to give Godzilla new legs to stand on then the film has achieved this by literally building them two miles high. As the titanic reptile slips back into the ocean at the film’s ending we can see a bright future for the character and the franchise. When our anti-hero returns a more calculated story could make this generation’s Godzilla the legend he deserves to be. Only time will tell.
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