Ro­dan War­riors

GODZILLA: KING OF the MON­STERS | Michael Dougherty on his Mon­sterVerse love…

Total Film - - Teasers - KH

Long ago, Michael Dougherty was swept away by a winged crea­ture. “As a kid, there was a Ro­dan toy I wanted badly for Christ­mas and I never got it,” he tells Teasers. “Even into adult life, it al­ways felt like the holy grail.” Though the Kram­pus helmer even­tu­ally ful­filled his dream via eBay, he’s get­ting to dream big­ger with his po­si­tion as co-writer/ di­rec­tor of Leg­endary’s third Mon­sterVerse movie.

Pre­vi­ous en­tries Godzilla (2014) and Kong: Skull Is­land (2017) both dis­tin­guished their tent­pole tur­moil with a height­ened pulp pas­sion for their res­i­dent mon­sters. So, be­fore gecko fights mon­key in 2020’s Godzilla Vs. Kong, Dougherty prom­ises sim­i­lar lev­els of lizard-love: “Some of my ear­li­est mem­o­ries are watch­ing Godzilla movies. My mother is Viet­namese, and Godzilla movies and kung fu movies were the only places I could see Asian peo­ple on TV. He’s been with me my en­tire life.”

Fam­ily con­nec­tions fuel the film’s story, with Stranger Things’ Mil­lie Bobby Brown mak­ing her movie de­but as Madi­son Rus­sell, daugh­ter to cryp­to­zo­o­log­i­cal agency Monarch’s Dr. Emma Rus­sell (Vera Farmiga). When the pair are kid­napped by ne­far­i­ous forces, Emma’s ex-hubby (Kyle Chan­dler) mounts a res­cue cam­paign. Join­ing the mix are O’Shea Jack­son Jr.’s mil­i­tary man and Zhang Ziyi’s mys­te­ri­ous sci­en­tist, while sur­vivors of 2014’s Godzilla in­clude Sally Hawkins,

Ken Watan­abe and daddy G him­self, head­lin­ing the menagerie of out­sized in­sect Mothra, dino-bird Ro­dan and triple-headed dragon King Ghi­do­rah.

While Dougherty wanted to cre­ate “a film that could stand on its own”, he also set out to re­spect found­ing Ja­panese stu­dio Toho’s kaiju canon. Declar­ing his mon­sters “very faith­ful” to the orig­i­nal films, he prom­ises to hon­our both the “moral­ity play” an­gle and Mothra’s por­trayal as a god­dess. No­tably, Emma and Madi­son first en­counter her in an an­cient tem­ple. What’s more, Dougherty banked bless­ings from the source: “Toho had fi­nal ap­proval on the crea­tures. I had to go to Ja­pan and do a big pre­sen­ta­tion – which was in­tim­i­dat­ing. Thank­fully, they signed off on ev­ery­thing with­out hes­i­ta­tion.”

Dougherty doesn’t hes­i­tate, ei­ther, to praise Gareth Ed­wards’ 2014 Godzilla, which “loved the char­ac­ter as much as I do”, he says. His cast loved the crea­tures, too, with Brown fall­ing for the god­dess-in-res­i­dence. “Madi­son has a re­ally, like, in­ter­est­ing con­nec­tion to Mothra,” she teases.

Dougherty, mean­while, main­tains a love for Ro­dan, “be­cause he’s al­ways been a bit of an un­der­dog.” If the Mon­sterVerse of­fers its own pulp-y un­der­dog al­ter­na­tive to cinema’s slicker ex­panded uni­verses, its se­cret weapon could be that very rev­er­ence. “I have such a deep-rooted love for these crea­tures,” Dougherty says. “These aren’t just gi­ant mon­sters, they’re an­cient gods.” Get ready to hail the king.


BRIDGE TOO FAR Mon­sters in the mist; Mil­lie Bobby Brown as Madi­son Rus­sell (be­low).

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