It's fair to say this is big.
Monstrously big even.
Due out in May, Godzilla's got a whole heap of expectation on its broad reptilian, slightly nasty shoulders - and based on the 11 minutes of footage that was shown, I think it's more than likely to deliver on the destructive and personal level.
It's a tough one for Godzilla director Gareth Edwards; with creature features and CGI potentially inducing a sigh of indifference from audiences, there's really a whole heap of expectation that this blockbuster has to do the job.
The footage (which is snippets from the film, rather than a sequential piece) initially centred around Bryan Cranston's Joe Brody, who works at a nuclear plant (location not fully obvious just yet) and who's been troubled by a series of tremors that have rocked the region. With a kid in the background as he's on the phone, it's clear Brody's a family man - and the bond he has with his wife (played by Juliette Binoche) is clearly at the fore-front of the story. Joking that he doesn't want to appear to be "an American ranting maniac", Brody's warnings seem to veer into that territory before something unspeakable appears to happen at the nuclear reactor and he's forced to witness a decision play out that has consequences for both him and his family...To say more, would be to spoil it in some ways, but let's just say it doesn't end well, and gives some insight into Brody's cracked looking psyche and outlook on life 15 years on. Cranston's powerfully watchable in these brief moments - the initial meltdown at the plant is out of true Godzilla lore but the creature doesn't appear in these early sequences; merely hints of it.
It's 15 years later that the story begins to take shape, with Brody heading back to his family home which was cordoned off (presumably during some kind of meltdown / explosion) and feeling that a conspiracy has been underway; and also something is awakening.
The action then switches to what we've seen of the soldiers being called in to deal with some form of destruction and the chaos starts to appear to unravel. It's here that you get a sense of the scope of Edwards' ambition; hints of the creature, a powerful mist that appears to emanate out and incapacitate areas seems to be odd as the action starts to really kick in. Those shots you've already seen in the trailers of planes being tossed casually out of the sky and soldiers dropping in are only really the start of it - and Edwards seems to show remarkable restraint, suggesting that Godzilla will be more than just a movie where everything's tossed over the screen and destruction happens simply for the sake of it.
As a tsunami hits one area (possibly Hawaii, given the palm trees), there's the shot of a dog trying to outrun the wall of water as it heads his way - and then a swathe of destruction covers the screen. It's clear that there's to be carnage when Godzilla attacks, but what I appreciated in this footage is just how calm it is (if that makes sense) - sure, there's a lot to take in on the screen, but it's never overwhelming and you're always craning for a full shot of the Godzilla beast, indicating that Edwards is taking time to let the story breathe.
Shots of the Statue of Liberty being slightly destroyed are mixed in with the footage of the paratroopers dropping into the zone and firing flares to reveal the scale of Godzilla; and there's also a brief glimpse of Elizabeth Olsen (and cute kid) being told on a phone by Aaron Taylor-Johnson that he needs to tell her that he loves her...
Perhaps the coolest shot of the footage is the flash of lightning that reveals the Godzilla creature's outline - it's an awesome moment that really provides a level of excitement for the film's release on May 15th.
Early indications that this will be a monster at the box office, but not just the smash and grab destruction of the usual kinds of films - while Godzilla is always about the monster and the inhumanity, it's clear that Edwards is inserting a lot of the human element in with Cranston and Olsen's characters - how it all plays out will be thrilling to see.
Watch the brand new Godzilla International trailer here...