Total Film was lucky enough to be amongst the first people in the world to gaze upon the glory of Gareth Edwards' Godzilla this morning, in the swanky surroundings of the Mayfair Hotel.
Edwards, who introduced the footage and took part in a detailed Q&A afterwards, spoke about being nervous - but he certainly didn't seem it, he was a charismatic, confident and humorous presence, getting laughs and spontaneous applause from the crowd.
But, as Gareth pointed out at one point, he was amongst friends - many people, Total Film included, were invited because of the support we've given him during the earliest stages of his career (which to be fair, he's still in - this is only his second film).
And what a treat we were in for. We're now going to describe what we saw - but be warned, this comes with a massive SPOILER warning. Because we know that some people can't help themselves, we're not going to give any MEGA SPOILERS away (we saw something wonderful that we won't be ruining here) but if you want to go in completely cold, please ignore the below.
***SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS***
Our favorite section of footage opened with Aaron Taylor-Johnson on a monorail train that has just stopped dead because of a power failure. Just as he's reassuring a young boy that everything's going to be okay, we cut to a party scene on a beach - where it's quickly revealed that everything is decidedly not okay. Not by a long shot.
An explosion in the mountains resonates through the trees, and a siren goes off. A small child watches the waves, and we start to see movement.
Eventually, we see Godzilla's iconic ridges move through the sea - looking for all the world like Jaws' fin, multiplied and super-sized.
A huge tidal wave starts to build, and we follow a crowd as they flee through the city. This sequence is pretty powerful - almost resonant of news footage, reminding us all of the natural disasters we've been forced to to witness in the real world in recent years.
In one incredible shot, we see bodies caught in the water pass by a glass door, shot from the viewpoint of people safe inside. It's sickening to see the bodies tumble past, caught in the current.
Then we cut to the big guy. Godzilla himself. We see his hands - they look fantastic, ridiculously canon - then his broad midriff, then onto his huge tail as it sweeps through the city. Soldiers shoot, but to no avail.
Then, we're back on the train, as the lights go on and it starts to move, and then… we cut this description dead, because something pretty darn mind-blowing happens, and we want you to experience it in the finished feature.
So, we're now going to go to a MISSING REEL... before coming back to reveal that the footage ended on a panning shot of Godzilla, from feet to face and he looks ASTONISHING.
Our jaws dropped, and as the roar hits it's a huge goosebump moment that'll be having audiences whispering "Wow" when the finished film hits.
But that's not all we saw.
At one point in the Q&A, Edwards said he was pleased to have secured sound designer Erik Aadahl, who "Did Transformers with Michael Bay and Tree Of Life with Terrence Malick, which was kind of what we wanted to do with this - a combination of those things."
We'd say they've succeeded. The event opened with an intense sequence centered around Bryan Cranston that featured the sort of powerful emotion you get from the best of Malick, whilst also squeezing in a lot of frantic running / sonic booms.
It opens with Cranston walking through a power plant in a tweed jacket and glasses, being briefed on some huge seismic activity. Then, something hits the plant, setting off a chain reaction and transforming Cranston into an action hero, as he runs to rescue his wife (Juliette Binoche) who's caught in the calamity.
Smoke - turned red by warning lights - envelopes a corridor, as Binoche stumbles to safety.
Sadly, the exit is also the barrier to disaster - and Cranston is forced to - REMEMBER KIDS, THERE ARE SPOILERS HERE - shut the door, essentially killing his wife and creating another major goosebump moment as the smoke covers her.
It's beautifully shot by Edwards, who swoops in on Cranston's desperate face through the porthole of the door as it closes. His reaction is up there with his best work on Breaking Bad, so it may come as a surprise to hear that Edwards hasn't really seen that particular show (though he has caught a few episodes).
"The real reason I wanted to work with Bryan was Malcolm In The Middle and an episode of Airwolf from 1986," he said during the Q&A to big laughs.
Next, we saw Cranston being interrogated following the disaster. It was basically the full footage of that incredible speech we celebrated when we reported on the trailer.
According to Edwards, he'd had lots of fancy shots planned for the sequence, but Cranston's performance was so impressive from the get-go, they went with the first take. We can certainly see why - any Walter White fans in the crowd won't be disappointed by what they experience here.
We saw two more major scenes, both involving soldiers. In one, a small group of US marines are investigating whether a bridge is safe enough to deliver "some important cargo." It's a tense, beautifully shot sequence - and one we can't really go into any more detail on. You'll find out why in May.
We're also hampered by our honor code when it comes to describing the final sequence we saw. It was the full halo jump from the trailer, except here, we saw the soldiers landing in the ruined city instead of just dropping towards it - falling straight into SOMETHING INCREDIBLE YOU'LL THANK US FOR KEEPING A SECRET WE PROMISE.
Then, it was back to the Q&A where Edwards revealed an amusing name his mates have for the movie: "My friends refer to the film as 'Godzooky.'"
Edwards revealed that his first encounter with the big guy was via the Hannah Barbera cartoon (amazing), before he came relatively late to the 1954 Toho movie via a BFI DVD release.
He was blown away by it, considering the original to be: "A very serious take on the monster movie, which is what we wanted to do with this."
Thematically, he wanted to explore: "Man vs nature, the fact that if you mess with nature you're going to lose."
In the film, "Man is no longer the alpha predator on this planet."
But nature wasn't the only influence on the flick. Edwards said that anime and manga played a part during the storyboard process: "When we got stuck, we'd say 'What would Akira do?'". Which, obviously, was incredibly exciting to hear.
He also revealed that it's the biggest Godzilla to hit the big screen. "Technically he's 350ft in our film."
He also noted that they experimented with different sizes, making him small, huge, and dinosaur size. But then they realized that 350ft made him the biggest of all the Godzillas "So we said, 'let's do that.'"
But there were other reasons: "We wanted him to be big, but also we wanted to be able to hide him, because that's more fun."
But our favorite quote of the day came when Edwards described his encounters with fans of the big green guy. "It's amazing how many people are closet Godzilla fans."
He revealed that, on several occasions over the past year, he's been meeting people who have quietly taken him to one side to say: "I love Godzilla. Don't f*ck it up."
Going by what we saw today, Edwards definitely hasn't. Unlike the devastation its titular monster wreaks, this thing as about as far from f*cked up as it gets.
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