'Godzilla' Screenwriter Explains Why There's So Little Godzilla in 'Godzilla'
“Godzilla” writer Max Borenstein and director Gareth Edwards reserved the beast for a big fight at the end, hoping to avert the failings of recent movies that have wasted their best assets early on.
And in the process they angered some film critics who feel there isn’t enough Godzilla. Enough with Aaron-Taylor Johnson and his dreamy blue eyes; they want massive battles between primordial beasts that dwarf their human surroundings.
Borenstein defended the creative choice during a recent conversation with TheWrap, talking also the need to build more suspense in movies.
“Everyone is going to have a different opinion about it,” Borenstein said. “When you go into a movie and from the very beginning it’s go go go with two monsters fighting, the only thing you have to look forward to is another fight. It’s hard to build tension if you’ve given the ghost away early on.”
Borenstein is a fixture in the writer’s room at Legendary Pictures, the studio that produced “Godzilla,” as well as last summer’s “Pacific Rim.” He co-wrote “Seventh Son,” an adventure story starring Jeff Bridges that will open next year, and an unproduced Jimi Hendrix biopic.
Though Borenstein wrote intimate dramas at the start of his career, working with one of the biggest producers in Hollywood suits him just fine. He’s been angling for a writing gig since the ninth grade. TheWrap spoke with Borenstein about where so many recent monsters movies failed, ‘Godzilla’ and a secret Legendary project.
Fear of the nuclear bomb spawned the first ‘Godzilla’ movie. Does that subject still resonate?
Not in the same way, but what does resonate is the common denominator of Godzilla movies. Godzilla becomes a vessel for the fear of something outside of our control.
The first film is an allegory for nuclear war. The next movie is about alien invasion; that was the subject of the moments in the 1960s. In the 1970s, it was about environmental catastrophe. In the 1990s, it was about bioengineering.
It’s always the theme of the moment; there is always a human fear of some force beyond our control. Right now, that is natural disasters and a sense that no matter how advanced we become, the Internet won’t protect us from sudden, cataclysmic disaster.
How does this movie depict that fear?
Our nuclear warheads, the single greatest destructive force we’ve ever managed to muster as a race, are doggie biscuits to these creatures. We are the tools of the things we think are our tools.
There has been a lot of debate about the amount of Godzilla in this movie. Did you consciously try to keep him in reserve?
It’s a fine line. Everyone is going to have a different opinion about it. When you go into a movie and from the very beginning it’s go, go, go with two monsters fighting and you see everything, the only thing the viewer has to look forward to is another fight.
It’s hard to build tension if you’ve given the ghost away early on. A lot of my favorite films and a lot of Gareth’s favorite films do suspense. That’s a feature in all those great Spielberg movies; they use suspense to gradually build to your climax. Nowadays movies give more immediately.