Godzilla vs. Kong is almost here, and it’s a showdown for the ages: two of the box office’s most beloved giant monsters, at their throats again as if it was 1962. But the film is not just a revenge between titans, for director Adam Wingard, it is a step forward to a truly titanic level of blockbuster filmmaking.
Inheriting not only what was left by Kong: Skull Island And two Godzilla as part of Legendary’s all-new ‘Monsterverse’, but the legacy of two the greatest legends of cinema, literally or otherwise, Wingard – best known for his small-scale taught action horrors like You are next et Netflix Death threat adaptation– was propelled onto a gigantic stage.
To learn more about his approach to such The figures-from juggling a massive cast of humans to tweaking the film just as the covid-19 pandemic took hold, sending studio employees at Work at home–io9 met the director on a video call. Check out the interview below!
James Whitbrook, io9: YesYou inherit two very important movie franchises and you crush them together in Godzilla vs. Kong. What did you want to see in this movie that you felt like you hadn’t seen either Skull island or Godzilla and King of monsters?
Adam Wingard: I think the main thing I wanted to see was… I wanted to get to the heart of these characters. I wanted to feel the emotions of the monsters, you know? I think all of the Monsterverse movies have done a great job giving us all these different types of director points. of view– these are kind of those bestselling auteur films, in a way. Like, anyone can make their own specific take. And for me, I really felt that was the most important …I wanted to go back to the origin of these movies, in my opinion, which is a feeling of real empathy for the monsters.
I turned around and watched all of the Godzilla and King Kong films straight away while I was even in the early stages of negotiating on the film. And one of the things that struck me was how emotional they could be, sometimes – even Godzilla movies, which you wouldn’t think. Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, for example. There’s a point where Junior – little baby Godzilla – dies, and Godzilla cries a little bit, and there’s this really sad music playing. It was a great awakening call me, because I was thinking, ‘HAre we with guys in costume, you know? It shouldn’t be touching, but here I start to cry because of the power of cinema. The way they juxtaposed images with music and things. And Kong always had that, because he’s always been a more empathetic character in those older movies. So that was probably the main thing. Plus, like, the colors – the crazy, tonal ’80s things that I love to bring to my movies, and music, and everything. The core of it was what I wanted to explore.
io9: Kong is really the main point of view when we are introduced to the movie. Can you talk about the decision to frame this more through his lens, and Godzilla as an outside force and antagonist?
Wingard: Godzilla has always been that pendulum of a character, traditionally. It’s gone from bad, to good, to bad again and that’s just the way we’ve always seen it. And the Monsterverse version, he’s always been a good guy. So, it was always only a matter of time before something happened and Godzilla was seen as a villain – or a heel, I think, is the most accurate term in this movie. So that naturally creates a bigger mystery around Godzilla: once you’re the bad guy, you can’t stick with them all the time.
It must be a little more mysterious. He gets a lot of screen time in the movie, but ultimately it forces us to soak up Kong as the protagonist a bit more. It also naturally created that kind of outsider status for Kong. Because here is this thing that seems unstoppable and destroys half the world. “What are we doing?” And here is Kong as a very empathetic type of character. So history naturally lends itself to pushing him in that direction.
io9: Aside from the shadow of these two literally massive monsters, you’ve got such a huge cast to deal with. New characters, villains, returning characters King of monsters– what was the biggest challenge for you to find the impetus to bring these two universes together?
Wingard: I think anyone who watches my movies, you can kind of see that I have an obsession with efficiency, rhythm, and tone. Sometimes maybe I go through things too fast because maybe I have ADD or something, but I’m very impatient. I feel like Hollywood blockbusters, they relax too much sometimes. We’ve gotten to a point where it’s very relaxed to see a movie at half past two, but, boy, I feel like you really have to, really something’s going on for over two hours. And with Godzilla vs. KongI just thought that the audience that wants to watch this doesn’t want to sit in a theater for two and a half hours. They want a dense and exciting experience that they are passionate about. They want to come out of the theater with energy, not exhausted.
So I would say the biggest challenge for me was just the fact that, like, I have all of these characters and I’m also technically doing a sequel – but I’m doing a sequel that has to stand on its own. You have to be able to watch this film without ever seeing the other films. TThe biggest challenge is still the first half hour of the film. It’s like, ‘HHow do we put all of these things in place while keeping them very nice? Because once the movie hits the half hour mark, it’s just non-stop action from there. The film never slows down.
But it’s always been important that even when we’re setting things up, the movie doesn’t feel like it’s stagnant – and also, most importantly, that you’re never that far from the monsters. It’s always been important to me that you always get a little glimpse of a monster in every scene. Even if it’s just a matter of setting them up and the exposure around them. All the actors brought so much to it, they knew the characters, they knew the personalities they bring – everyone is very colorful and easy to follow. And they can splash very quickly and efficiently.
io9: You’ve done action movies before – but there wasn’t anything quite on this scale. What was that experience for you as a director, not just getting into this huge blockbuster, but we’ve been working through the last year at some very weird and weird times. You have dealt with this scale, but you have dealt with it in such a unique way.
Wingard: Fortunately, for me, to talk about the second half of this – the pandemic hit us directly at our post-production facility in March. That’s when we started working remotely, but we were in the very last stages. I think we had about a month and a half, or maybe two months, of post-production left. WWe hadn’t locked the image at the time, but we were pretty close. So working remotely wasn’t that bad. There were a lot of special effects reviews that had to be redone – can’t remember what program we were using – we had a special program that we could monitor online. And then once a week or every two weeks, I got to walk into Legendary with just me and Alex Garcia, the producer, and we got to watch it on the big screen when we gave our final deal – we saw it. on the big screen because it was important to do it.
In terms of developing the film, I did a lot of action, but never on this scale. In many ways, the action was the easiest part of this movie. As I mentioned before, setting up the movie and getting past all of those storytelling efficiencies was the hardest part, but the great thing about working on a movie like this is that for the very first time here I am, this freelance director used to develop scripts with the budget in mind – where you don’t. can’t just say “ house blows up ‘during action scene – you have to say’ WWell, we know what we can and can’t afford, and how do we write about it, “you know? And with this movie, you are kind of asked to use unlimited imagination. This is what is so exciting about it. I got into making movies because of big sci-fi shows like the Star wars movies and the Alien movies and that sort of thing. So, I’ve always wanted the chance to be flexible and create these new worlds, environments, and things.
It was actually a lot of fun and intuitive, honestly, as you are working from a process that takes a long time and has many steps. As you go, you adjust and adjust and adjust. It’s actually very intuitive, as a director. You start with a storyboard, then you go to a preview, and once you’ve locked that animation, there are just different phases of animation that get more and more detailed as you go. The hardest thing is in the early stages of doing it is learning that once you get to a certain point you are spending a lot of money and you are not allowed to come back. backward. So you really must know this is the right decision because if you don’t, it will cost you the same amount of money to go back and do it again. For example, if you don’t like the angle you chose once you saw it more fleshed out –suddenly it’s like, ‘Well, sorry. We’ve already spent $ 18,000 on this photo, and we’re just getting started, so… make up your mind! You have those kinds of moments that are a little scary, but overall that part was so much fun for me. I would love to do another one of those great monster movies.
Godzilla vs. Kong hits theaters and begins streaming on HBO Max starting March 31.
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