Godzilla Trailer Breakdown: Big, Bleak Lizard Destruction

Patrick Dane writes for Bleeding Cool

If you followed our film coverage at SDCC this year, you may have noticed quite a lot of coverage was given to Godzilla. That was largely my own doing.

While I try to stay impartial as possible going into films, it's been hard for me with Godzilla, ever since Monster's Gareth Edwards was brought aboard. It has been a long wait for the trailer to hit the internt but yesterday it finally landed, giving fans a good look at the tone of the film, if not much else.

You know, the way film trailers should be.

But also, you know, because this is the internet, we are all going to watch it multiple times, scour over every single clue and possibly ruin plot points for ourselves.

If that is what you want, I've got you covered.

It is worth noting that there is actually still a fair bit missing from this trailer in terms of what was shown to us at Comic-Con, so I will try and fill in whichever of those blanks I can from my sketchy memory.

Godzilla trailer 1

So, first off, we see David Strathairn giving a briefing to his soldiers, not all who have had "hands-on experience". This possibly suggests that the military is stretched a little thinly, throwing every resource they can at the king of monsters, and they're now down the less experienced rookies.

I can't quite make out exactly where that is being displayed on the maps, though. Possibly Northern Japan? Hard to say.

Godzilla Trailer 2

The jaws of the plane opening wide. The last sunrise. All fairly metaphorical stuff.

Godzilla Trailer 3

We get our first look at Aaron Taylor Johnson as a paratrooper, albeit covered up by an oxygen mask. There is something distinctly 'unsoldier' like about Taylor Johnson, although I can't put my finger on it. Perhaps it is the pristine youthful look of his eyes.

I'd bet money on him being one of the soldiers without "hands-on experience" so perhaps he doesn't need to look all that 'soldiery'.

Godzilla Trailer 4

The halo jump squad leaping out of the plane, onto an impossibly dark vista. It looks like they are jumping in twilight, but even so, logically, that sun should be illuminating the picture much more. But artistically it really helps set the tone and is the first of a few gorgeous vistas in the trailer.

It really helps sell that this is going to be as straight-faced and moody a film about Godzilla as you could hope for.

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Another beautiful vista that almost looks like it could be a painting. The halo squad falling with their red smoke through a gap in the clouds.

Any one else think that plume on the side of the picture makes it all look like a mushroom cloud? No? Me either.

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We get our first look at the destruction that Godzilla has raised through the eyes of Taylor Johnson. It appears to be a fairly complete demolition.

Godzilla Trailer 9

Another picturesque vista. Not 100% sure exactly what city this is (Update: It's San Francisco.) but it is almost totally annihilated, much like Tokyo in the 1954 original, Gojira.

Edwards looks like he is trying to match that somber and crushing tone of Ishro Honda's original, a film that sought to capture the horrors of a post-WWII Japan.

Godzilla Trailer 10

Here the paratroopers are falling and the shot is through two buildings. I'm going to guess that this is unintentionally evoking 9/11, as the film is almost certainly out to fry a different fish.

Although if you go back through the shots, a recurring theme you'll see in this sequence is surrounding these troopers with as much darkness as possible and just a smidgen of light illuminating their path.

Godzilla Trailer 11

There he is ladies and gentlemen. The King of Monsters himself, being literally impossibly large. This may well be the best look you get of his face in the trailer so make sure to watch carefully.

Godzilla Trailer 12

This is Bryan Cranston running through a factory-like tunnel. He appears to be running towards danger as every one is running away from where ever it is he's headed.

Originally I thought this danger was Godzilla related but I now think it is a scene from earlier in the film of a nuclear power-plant melting down. Obviously evoking Fukushima in 2012 – it could be specifically that disaster or just an allusion to it – but I strongly believe this will have something to do with the origin of Godzilla.

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The next shot shows a train with soldiers going out searching for.. something. The train is running so, clearly, it only recently came to a stop for some kind of disturbance. It's possible that they are transporting some kind of warhead. I'll explain why later.

The real question here is why did they stop and what are they looking for? Were they spooked? I doubt it's Godzilla as his presence would be fairly obvious. Is someone else after a warhead?

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Aaron Taylor Johnson in what I assume is the same scene. I'd guess, due to his slightly elevated position, he is back on the train. Who wants to bet those guys searching around in front of him get taken out by whatever they are looking for?

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The next shots shows a tram carriage getting munched by Godzilla, but it is really quite hard to tell what part of him it is. Although, I am going to guess it is his mouth as this is imagery reminiscent to the 1954 original.


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Elizabeth Olsen gets her first sliver of screen time hugging a little boy. She is definitely in doctors scrubs, so it probably won't be hard to guess her character's job.

Godzilla Trailer 18

Not entirely sure what this is, but it looks like soldiers opening up a big vault in an abandoned, green-lit area . I'm fairly stumped by what exactly is going on here. Could it be at the end of the hall Cranston was running down earlier?

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Godzilla Trailer 20

Ken Wantanabe gets his first and only appearance in what looks like some kind of proto-Prometheus science get up. The next shot is the reverse showing a large hole.

Although, considering the size of Godzilla in this version, it doesn't look THAT big of a hole. Also, Godzilla isn't traditionally known for burrowing underground (unless it is while laying several hundred eggs and being chased by Jean Reno.)

I think that this is probably where one of the other monsters that Godzilla is going to encounter came from. Interestingly, the trailer works pretty hard to hide those monsters.

Godzilla Trailer 21

Talking about hiding monsters, this bit of destruction flying around the airport isn't caused Godzilla. This scene was shown in the longer Comic Con trailer and it was obviously the work of another monster. Godzilla did stomp onto this scene eventually, though.

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I'd wager, due to some concept art that turned up and the debris flying from the right, this is Godzilla terrorising an aircraft carrier. Not sure how much more safe Taylor Johnson is going to be in the water.

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Juliette Binoche clearly in terror of something, something that can make her room shake. Judging by her compadres she is somewhere sciencey.

The tremor certainly looks like a big footstep, but this could well be a side affect of the nuclear meltdown. I'll explain why soon.

Godzilla Trailer 24

Here is the warhead that I am assuming is on the train from earlier. My evidence is a previous set photo, showing a warhead loaded onto a train carriage.

This warhead might well be the film's MacGuffin.

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Children evacuating their school. Is it the little boy who was with Elizabeth Olsen earlier? His hair looks a little lighter, but why would the camera focus on one kid in particular?

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Binoche in what looks like a heavy-duty hazmat suit. She looks like she is trying to save someone. This is who I think Cranston was running towards in that earlier shot.

I can't quite make out the writing on her suit, which would go a long way in telling us what this place is. If anyone can decipher it, that would be good.

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Godzilla Trailer 28

The next two shots show Cranston in horror as Binoche is stuck in a big red room, which judging by their facial expressions, doesn't seem like a good thing.

I assume Binoche is about to die and Cranston is losing a close friend or love interest. Again, this makes me think that this is towards the beginning of the film, possibly in a nuclear meltdown. But going back to that scene earlier, why did it look like Binoche was in a building that was shaking from, apparently, Godzilla's footsteps??

Maybe it was just an explosion from a reactor. Or maybe not. Questions, questions, questions…

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This is something that is quite hard to catch in the trailer, but may well be one of the most important images.. It is a tram, I'm guessing from the earlier scene, with hundreds of dead bodies strewn across the ground. This film is going to be pretty bleak, holding an incredibly straight face about a disaster and not an action romp about a big lizard stomping stuff.

While the tram looks more squashed than bitten, the layout of bodies suggest that they fell from a height instead of just being squashed.

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This shot is from the Godzilla mood piece shown two Comic-Cons ago. Not sure if this means that parts of that will be in the movie, or if the people who cut this trailer are just using all of the resources to hand.

Godzilla Trailer 31

Elizabeth Olsen is looking up at something. Is her eye line high enough to be Godzilla or is it another smaller monster? Hard to say for sure, but there is at least that one smaller monster.

One interesting thing to note is that everyone around her is coming up and out of an underground station, which would be the opposite of what you should do when a big monster is terrorising the city above. Or perhaps one of the other monsters is a burrower, which would explain that big but not huge hole Ken Wantanabe was looking up and out of.

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Here you get your best look at the massive scale of this Godzilla. This may be one of his biggest incarnations yet. Huge.

This is footage from that older Comic-Con mood piece, so I wouldn't bet money on this turning up in the final film.

This trailer has created the Bleak (with a capital B) tone that I reported coming out of the Comic Con, and it is good to see that the studio hasn't brightened up the joint for the masses. Gareth Edwards' film may well end up surprising people with how down-beat it turns out. In a good way.

Everything I have seen and heard about this film so far points to the film being a disaster movie, focused on the people dealing with an unstoppable force of nature rather than a monster story about a big scary lizard. Both can work with Godzilla, but I'm pulling for the po-faced serious version, if only because we haven't seen it done quite like this before.