Godzilla past and present brought carnage to SXSW in Austin, Texas during Shock Till You Drop's final night at the event.
Following a screening of the original 1954 film, which played to a packed audience at the Ritz, Gareth Edwards – director of May 16th gigantic Godzilla redo from Legendary Pictures and Warner Bros. – took to the stage to re-introduce us to not just the trailer we're all familiar with at this point, but a new clip!
Edwards prefaced the clip by saying that – in preparation for SXSW – they initially had the footage accompanied with a temp track (music from other films to set the mood during the post-production process), however, to screen it publicly with the temp track, it would cost them money. So, Godzilla composer Alexandre Desplat (Argo, Zero Dark Thirty) broke from his schedule to get a piece of music ready for the clip. The music was gorgeous.
As for the footage… Most of the FX looked completed and what we saw was only slightly similar to what Comic-Con attendees had seen. We got an extended cut.
We find Aaron Taylor-Johnson on board an airport tram. While coasting along its track, the power goes out. The train stops. The track lights go out. The power in the area goes out. Cut to: Ken Watanabe aboard an aircraft carrier. Something is approaching underwater and, high above the ocean, helicopters are tracking it with their spotlights.
It's Godzilla… He passes beneath Watanabe's aircraft carrier and Godzilla's back fins break the surface of the water. Watanabe gauges the creature's size via binoculars as those fins effortlessly cut through the waves. The bulk of Godzilla's body displaces the water, pushing battleships out of the way. Cut to: An oceanside party on the beach. A young girl watches the ocean recede, leaving various sea life stranded on the sand. Her astute father recognizes some manner of trouble is coming (tsunami?!) and he picks up his daughter, telling the other beach partiers to run. And they do.
A dog, tied to a post on the beach, barks at the oncoming threat: A massive wave. The dog doesn't hesitate, hauling ass and snapping its leash in the process. The camera tracks with the dog from the beach and into the adjoining city streets – a devastating wave moving in fast. The dog catches up to the screaming mass of people looking for safety and disappears into the crowd. Meanwhile, the aforementioned father and daughter seek shelter in a nearby store, closing the doors as the wave passes.
Up on the rooftops, people watch the ocean water consume the streets. It's as bad as the tsunami is depicted in The Impossible. Soldiers, who apparently have already been on standby on the roof, fire off a series of red flares which cascade through the night sky illuminating Godzilla, who is making his arrival on land. All we see is a leg. The soldiers don't hesitate…they fire, bullets doing little to penetrate Godzilla's hide. Godzilla disappears around a building and we get a glimpse of his tail.
Back at the airport…
The lights spring to life and the train resumes its journey along the tarmac until, something destroys the track! Train cars crash to the ground below, taking with it a handful of passengers. The little boy with Taylor-Johnson almost doesn't make it, but he's caught just before sliding out of the train car.
And here is when Edwards reveals Godzilla's second threat: Another kaiju! It's a multi-limbed creature with what look like wings on its back (that would explain the mystery shape we saw cutting through the clouds in the official trailer). This beast is wreaking havoc at the airport that sets off a domino-like chain of explosions which take out two airplanes waiting at their gate. From inside the airport, travelers panic, watching the mayhem through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
A giant foot comes into frame. It looks like a damn tank. But so much bigger than a tank. We're now back on the tarmac and this second creature looks up at its foe… and in an epic "hero shot," the camera cuts to Godzilla's legs and tilts up, offering us the best look at the famous monster yet. You've seen him by this point in photos and in fleeting trailer shots, but this footage finally does justice: He looks stocky. He looks like brawler, ready to throw down. And with a mighty Godzilla roar, the footage slams to black.
The Ritz's audience erupted into applause. The footage looked fantastic. It's insane to think the film gets even bigger than this (it does) ,because this footage is already massive in scope. The second kaiju was straight-up weird. Alien in design, even. I know early toy designs have had some saying it looks like the Cloverfield monster, but that's not an accurate description. For a Godzilla movie, it felt right and I'm eager to see it tussle with Godzilla.
May cannot get here soon enough…