The GODZILLA 2014 Comic-Con Trailer Was a Masterpiece

In exactly two months, the world will once again shake under the mighty steps of Godzilla. The release of Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a cinematic event that many have been eagerly awaiting and it’s almost hard to believe that we’re finally getting it. From the trailers that have been released, it seems very apparent that director Mike Dougherty, who co-wrote the film alongside Zach Shields, has crafted a stunningly beautiful film that is loaded with Kaiju action.

With the upcoming release on the horizon, it seems a fitting time to take a look back at the San Diego Comic-Con trailer for Gareth Edwards’ 2014 film Godzilla, which was shown to audiences in 2012. Regardless of your feelings about the film, there is no denying that the Comic-Con trailer was a masterpiece of tension and restraint. Let’s break it down a bit.

The trailer opens with black smoke being blown aside to reveal chaos, a city laid to ruin. J. Robert Oppenheimer’s famous quote after the testing of the Trinity bomb begins, “We knew the world would not be the same…” The music is minimalistic but eerie. There is a darkness that hovers over every shot, regardless that the scenes are shot during a bright, sunny day. In the background, thuds as regular as a heartbeat pulsate, hearkening the approach of something unfathomably large.

As each cut reveals more death and destruction, Oppenheimer’s quote becomes more foreboding until we hear, “Vishnu…takes on his multi-armed form and says…” as the scene reveals a gigantic creature, smoke wafting from glowing wounds. This is the first we see of any sort of monster and it is a disorienting sight. There are multiple arms with terrifying claws. There is a shape that is impossible to decipher. And before we can wrap our minds around this vision, the screen cuts to black and Godzilla’s newly designed and undeniably awesome roar erupts. The exhale bears the signature trademarks of its iconic shriek but the inhale sounds like a Hellish symphony, the strings tuning to a discordant melody.

Now I am become death, destroyer of worlds.

The black screen is cut sharply to a city choked by dust with debris falling from the sky. Buildings are visible but difficult to make out. But what draws the eye is the silhouette of something in the cloud. Something moving. Something huge. The camera pans up, higher and higher still as the music reaches a nightmarish, fever pitch, until we reach the head of this beast just as it turns against the sun, illuminating its visage. The roar comes once again, but this time we see it.

Cut to black. Fade title. Godzilla.

From the first time I saw this teaser, I was in love. While the first creature in the film isn’t present in the final product, it doesn’t matter. This was the kind of Kaiju film I had been wanting to see for a long, long time. The devastation wasn’t a gimmick or something meant to feel like eye candy. No, this was a declaration that lives would be lost and the terror would be palpable. Titans would walk (stomp?) alongside humans and our very existence would be threatened.

The promises of this trailer were, in many ways, fulfilled by Edwards’ film. Admittedly, I would have loved to have seen more Godzilla during its runtime but I think we can all agree that the film didn’t feel like a blockbuster. It was a recognition that potentially Earth-shattering events require a certain tone. For as much as I love Independence Day, the tone doesn’t match the gravity of aliens invading our planet. But Godzilla didn’t tread that path. It owned its bleakness.

No matter your thoughts on the final product, the SDCC trailer for Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla was an awe-inspiring tease. It is single-handedly responsible for maintaining my excitement in this iteration of a cinematic legend.



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