An Ultimate Fan's Trip to the UK Premiere (Updated 5/22)

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Introduction by Hesei: Last week, I proudly announced that GForever founder, Andrew Wong, won the Utimate Godzilla Fan Contest from Warner Brothers, Legendary, and The Nerdist.  Well, I finally have his account of the experience, and his apologies for the delay.  Public WiFi connection wasn't readily available nor strong, so expect better photos, soon.  For now, hit the read more button below to GForever's account of what we've all been dreaming of.

A short message from GForever: Thanks everyone who voted for me and an enormous thank you to WB, Legendary, and nerdist.com for selecting me and providing such a wonderful experience!! Also wanted to thank Gareth and Thomas for taking the time to meet with the 3 winners and I. Finally, want to thank Ben & Carl for organizing the flight & hotel as well as my family for their support.

As Gareth pointed out, this is not only Godzilla's 60th anniversary, but it is also the "rebirth" year of the horse and this movie lives up to that title! This is the Godzilla movie of our times! Now that I am back in Boston with a proper internet connection, my Red Carpet coverage has been updated with new content as well as more photos and now VIDEOS! Godzilla Forever!

 

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Day 1

Arrival

20140512 075444The first thing I see when I get off the plane is a light up Godzilla poster on a building (didn't get the photo in time but my friend has it). What a great way for Godzilla to welcome you to London! Shortly after, I see all these red double decker buses with Godzilla ads on them (Go UK marketing team!). While it's not my red Godzilla (my Nissan GT-R), this red bus would be my ride of choice however I did not have the need to use public transportation as everything is within a walkable distance. (Thanks to WB of providing such a convenient location!) After I arrived at the Trafalgar hotel, there is a Godzilla poster and the concierge welcomes me. Somehow he knew I was here for the Godzilla premiere eventhough I had my Godzilla shirt under my jacket. Anyways, after we checked in and grabbed a bite, it was time for my interview with The Nerdist. That interview and the Q&A with Gareth should be posted on the web soon I'd think. Will post links once I get them. 

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The Red Carpet

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The Red Carpet (or should I say Godzilla carpet) was a really cool experience. The carpet had the Godzilla ’14 logo and large screens showing off the trailer and clips of the movie. Lots of signs are all around me - a large “G O D Z I L L A” display with the trailers and clips shown within each letter made for a very neat visual. Above the large screens were some pyrotechnics that definitely helped warm the audience from the chilly weather.

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It was two hours of waiting for the stars to arrive and walk up the red carpet. They kept posing for pictures all while questioned by the press. There were people on the carpet signing autographs. Not sure if they are lesser known British celebreities or whatnot. Anyhoo, the newscaster and Elizabeth Olsen look like cold with the windy weather. Turn up the fire folks! While up on the stage, the British newscaster had questions for each of the cast members, as well as motion capture consultant Andy Serkis, and director Gareth.

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Inside the Odeon Theater

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As we left the red carpet and headed into the theater, we get to see the title logo on screen which is just so cool. Something about seeing the word, Godzilla on large theater screen... it is just what this name is meant for! The Thomas, the cast, and Gareth were then invited up to the stage to introduce the film to the audience.

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Initial thoughts about the movie

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This is the Godzilla movie of our times! While it may not be made for non-fans, fans will enjoy this new take on Godzilla. The special effects are top notch, with an amazing cast. Bryan's performance just knocks it out of the park. You definitely connect with the human characters as much as you do with the monsters. The story was quite good almost combining 2 movies in one. You have a father and son trying to repair their relationship after losing the wife/mother from the power plant "accident" But some things about Godzilla I still wonder about...

SPOILER ALERT!  Highlight to read!

Why does the military keep hunting Godzilla while he just minds his own business? What has Godzilla been doing all these years after the nuking? I’m sure there are plenty of radiation sources that he can go after, but he hasn’t approached anything since his awakening in 1954, and even then he didn’t even cause any destruction? Godzilla is a good guy and feels a lot like the Heisei Gamera. After the Hawaii scene, Godzilla seems to avoid hurting people. He actually never fought back against the military which I felt was a bit disappointing.

It really leaves you wanting more, as I felt the fight scenes were cut too short often due to all the different camera perspectives from people on the ground. When Godzilla is on, it is awesome! I ponder if the scenes were cut short due to the time constraints of the film or if Gareth had to pull his fanboy side back when things were getting real good (ie airport scene). The CG monsters have character but I felt that "suitamation" human element is missing when associated with a "kaiju". There were a few brief moments where you can connect to Godzilla and MUTO such as...

SPOILER ALERT!  Highlight to read!

When Godzilla or MUTO stares down at Ford. Godzilla somehow knows Ford is on his side where the female MUTO knows he killed her eggs. Gareth must have a thing for mating monsters as the creatures from his Monsters film also featured monsters calling for each other. The EPM attack the MUTOs have is pretty neat and seems just as powerful as Leatherback from Pacific Rim.

The pace of the movie is just right with enough action and human character development. Bryan’s performance is truly remarkable. You can feel the emotion when he loses his wife in the nuclear plant "accident" and his anger when he demands to know the truth. The father son story is nice and it would have been nice if Bryan was in the movie more. The other actors are good but Sally Hawkins I still ponder why she was in the movie. Ken's Dr. Serizawa doesn't have a back story I think they could have developed more on Aaron’s character a bit, but I’m happy with what we got.

There's plenty of action between the monsters as well as Ford getting caught in the middle of it all. With all the different camera angles, you get glimpses of the battles and then you get cut.

SPOILER ALERT!  Highlight to read!

For example, the airport scene, I so wished to see more of the first fight but the camera cuts away. I mean I like how you get the human perspective but I’d really like to see more of the battles.

The music score excites and fits the film, but nothing had stood out to me like Ifukube’s music. Might need to give it a second watching when I am back in Boston for the opening night. The new roar is addictive, though!

Some Easter Eggs in the film I noticed: lots of Moths, some dinosaurs including pteranodons, a dragon head that resembled Showa Ghidorah in Chinatown, and a caterpillar pet in a fish tank which I believe the little Ford named Desu? Mothra. Another Nautilus is the name of a sub which was the name of production.

 

Day 2

Q&A

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Gareth met with the four winners of the Ultimate Godzilla contests that were hosted in different countries and conducted the interview - such a pleasant guy! When we had to introduce ourselves, I mentioned that I’m GForever on the web and Gareth said he knows of the site and saw our questions. Gareth just got 100 times cooler!
Editor’s note:  Thanks for reading, God Gareth!

Each winner was allowed one question. The first was about how he felt Godzilla is such an iconic figure. He then responded that when you put a character on a card with just a silhouette, Godzilla and Mickey Mouse would be the most recognizable. A joke Gareth threw out there is that the sequel will be Godzilla vs Mickey although it will be a quick film with Godzilla picking his teeth.  He also spoke to how he is a fan and was faced with a decision to make the movie for the fans or for the general audience. He chose the latter in hopes of converting them. If they see the movie and like it, they will watch more Godzilla movies.

The second question was about how he prepared to make the movie - if he watched all the movies in the series. Gareth’s response was that because all the movies are not easily accessible as a box set, he didn’t watch everything. Instead he was in a shop and bought a bunch of Godzilla DVDs with all his money. Then when he was in Australia, he bumped into the Godzilla distributer who then gave him the DVDs for free.

The third question was which aspects of Godzilla where the ones you were more interested in representing on the big screen? The answer was that he wanted to approach Godzilla with a serious tone.

The fourth question I asked was if the flying monster was if it something he always wanted or if was developed. Gareth responded that he wanted the movie to be at a global scale and flying allows the fastest way to travel while the walking would drag out too long.

As soon as the cameras stopped rolling, we were given these nifty looking Gojira survival bags an a notebook where Gareth signed. I didn't know there was other stuff inside until I got back to the hotel. Turns out there was also a T-Shirt, a key chain, and some stickers.

An off camera question Gustavo asked was if he had any suggestions for an inspiring film maker as well as how it was to film in New Mexico. Gareth told him it took him 15 years until he landed Godzilla and he just said don’t give up. Another question Gustavo then asked about how it was working with New Mexico. He said it was hard but as soon as he said they were filming a monster movie, the attitude changed completely and things were much easier going.

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The questions off camera I asked about regarded the software he used on Monsters. He seemed very excited to talk about the visual effects and they were Adobe After Effects and 3D Max. He cheated with the animation with a premade skeleton for a spider walking and a water hose for the tentacles. 

I also asked about the creature from the original Comic-Con footage and he said it was only for Comic-Con because the Oppenheimer quote included “multi-armed form.”

So I then asked if he had more time or approval, what classic monsters he wanted to use if he could.

“King Ghidorah or Rodan,” he responded, “but anyone from the 60’s,” as he is a sucker for the Showa era.

I also gave Gareth a quick sketch of Godzilla vs MUTO that I did and he was amazed! (too bad I didn't have time to scan it or take a photo). He said he has never gotten any drawings of MUTO. I unfortunately didn’t have much time to draw due to my final presentation and paper due the day before the trip. If given the opportunity, I'd like to do a completed drawing of Godzilla vs both MUTOs for Gareth.

Thomas Tull (President and CEO of Legendary Pictures) stopped by to meet us which was a nice surprise.  We then were invited to the press junket.

 

The Press Junket

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As a surprise, we were allowed to attend the press conference.  We get to hear Thomas Tull introduce the film, the cast members, and the director.

One of the questions asked was how the difficult it was working with Toho.

Thomas responded that they were very accommodating and had great communication to get everything approved before moving forward.

Thomas was also asked why he chose Gareth as the director of the film. 

Thomas explained that after viewings, he understood the talent and the passion Gareth had to make the film with so little funding.

Gareth was asked many questions about shifting from a low budget to a high budget film, like if he missed making the calls on visual effects as well as working on the film in his bedroom.

Gareth said he does miss it and tried to put in a DIY shot but they wouldn’t let him.

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One of the reporters also commented about the 60th anniversary and congratulated Godzilla.

Thomas simply replied that Godzilla said thank you and Gareth gave his Godzilla roar impression, you always have to end with "arnnnun at the end".

Thomas said it was time and Gareth joked he got the contract when he was 21 but had to wait until the 60th anniversary and the rebirth year until he could do the film. Gareth explained that the Ken Watanabe told him about the Asian Zodiac about the 12 cycle with the year of the dragon (error Horse) and this is the rebirth year.
Editor’s note – To be fair, filming completed in 2013, a Water Dragon year.

A question was then directed to Gareth about what made Godzilla so recognizable?

Gareth explained the same almost word for word about the silhouette and Mickey response. Another question Gareth was asked was about how he prepared for the movie and he also gave the almost word for word response about the DVDs he got in Australia.  Editor’s note: C’mon press!  Get it together!  You get paid for this?

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Bryan Cranston was asked why he chose Godzilla over another film. 

Bryan said when he read the script, it was astonishing and this movie focused on the human characters. You could even have two separate movies, the monster fights and the human story with a father and son bonding. Having both in one was the best of both worlds.

Bryan was also asked about getting bigger contracts after the success of Breaking Bad.

Bryan said he is thankful for the fans as it wouldn’t have been a success without them. He said projects like [Breaking Bad] are a gamble because you don’t know if they will be a hit. And if it does become a hit, it gives the actors more opportunities. Back when you were new, you would take any job that was offered before the question was finished.

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Elizabeth Olsen was asked a similar question and was commented on becoming a new Hollywood darling. Bryan jumped in to correct the reporter, saying that that HE was voted the new sweetheart.

Lizzie responded that her regular life hasn’t changed.

Aaron Taylor Johnson was asked why he chose to take the role.

Aaron said he’d never played an American Navy serviceman, before which appealed him to take on the role.

Aaron was asked if there will be a Kick Ass 3 and Gareth was asked if there will be a sequel.

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Gareth says it would depend how the movie is received - anything is possible. Gareth says there is no KickAss 3 and Aaron agrees, as he hasn’t received a contract, however if offered a contract he would welcome the opportunity just like as he did with Kick Ass 2. Bryan jumps in and says what about Kick Ass Vs Godzilla?

Lizzie coughed at one point during Gareth's response and she appologized. Gareth then said you have to "arggnnun".

The question was then turned towards the cast, and there was talk about how Aaron and Elizabeth are in the Avengers as sisters and in Godzilla they play. They play husband and wife. Did the relationships get in the way of filming?

Aaron and Lizzie said they are already like brother and sister. They joked as brother and sister, they can get very close too.

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Elizabeth Olsen was asked what monster would she like to see Godzilla take on.

She responded that she hated Jaws so she'd like to see Godzilla vs Jaws.

If there is a Godzilla sequel, the cast was asked if they like to return to Godzilla or not.

Aaron and Elizabeth paused and Bryan jumped in said he would love to come back and haunt people.

A good question that was asked is why the female actors are always one killed off in five minutes, Lizzy, a supporting actress, and few another always three steps behind Ken Watanabe.

Lizzie replied that she didn’t feel that way, and Aaron’s character is important, and that she played a nurse. She felt it was important to her to support her husband, and Aaron’s story was more important.  Gareth joked Godzilla was originally female, "queen of the monsters" but it was last minute decision to change it to "king of the monsters" which has a better ring to it. However if he has the opportunity to make a sequel he would consider making a heroine take the on the lead perspective.

As we were asked to leave Gareth's hotel, we then walked around London and stumbled upon several comic book stores which one already has a nice Godzilla 2014 section. There I also found a copy of the Empire deluxe magazine.

More pictures of Press Junket below.

 

Day 3

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Returned to the red carpet Odeon Studio by accident and everything looks completely different without the Godzilla displays.  Guess it’s time to head home!

 

Thank you to Legendary, Warner Bros, The Nerdist, Thomas Tull, and Gareth Edwards for this incredible opportunity.  It meant so much for a lifelong Godzilla fan to visit with such talented individuals and to be so close to Godzilla’s 60th Anniversary film.  Congratulations on such a glorious accomplishment.

Thank you again,

Andrew “GForever” Wong

 

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