Gareth Edwards’ 2014 Americanized reworking of Godzilla was a decent-sized hit for Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, enough to spawn plans for a sequel, a crossover with the rebooted King Kong and plans for a broader “Kaiju Cinematic Universe,” but its heavy focus on human-level characters and gritty, quasi-realistic tone left many fans of the King of The Monsters’ original Japanese incarnation missing the practical creature-FX and carefully-composed tableaus of destruction familiar from the classic series. Which meant those same fans were largely delighted to hear that Toho, the Japanese studio that created the franchise, was prepping a new “original recipe” Godzilla for 2016.
Now that new film, Godzilla: Resurgence, has a trailer — showing off the impressive mix of big-budget modern production values with classic Godzilla style.
The new film comes from director Hideki Anno, a legend in Japanese Animation fandom for the classic Anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion who has also established an eccentric voice in live-action filmmaking as director of offbeat action features like Cutie Honey. The special effects and monster suits are likewise being overseen by Shinji Higuchi, a beloved figure in the Japanese FX community who rose to fame creating the revolutionary monster sequences for Shusuke Kaneko’s groundbreaking 1990s Gamera Trilogy and re-teamed with Kaneko for Godzilla, Mothra & King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack in 2001.
The plot of the new film is largely unknown, but it has been described as a Japanese-centric reboot that will not be connected to either the last most recent Toho installment of the series (Godzilla: Final Wars) or the current American version of the franchise. However, the subtitle “Resurgence” could be taken to imply that this new film will suggest a previous encounter between this new incarnation of Godzilla and humanity, which would fall in line with Toho’s previous strategies: The studio has rebooted Godzilla’s continuity several times since the end of the original 1950s-1970s series, each time holding that the original feature (titled “King of The Monsters” in the west) “counted” but that intervening sequels did not.
Created in 1954 by the filmmaking team of Tomoyuki Tanaka, Ishirō Honda and Eiji Tsubaraya; the monster originally called “Gojira,” (a portmanteau of the Japanese words for “gorilla” and “whale”) was a work of dark allegorical science-fiction in which a sea monster raised to gigantic heights and endowed with terrifying nuclear powers by atomic bomb tests served as a grim metaphor for the devastation of Japanese cities by American atomic bombs at the end of World War II. A gigantic hit at home and an unexpected phenomenon worldwide, the film has since spawned 29 sequels, remakes and reboots in Japan, two American remakes and hundreds upon hundreds of imitators; and was declared one of the most important Japanese films ever released by no less than Akira Kurosawa.
Legendary Pictures is targeting a June 2018 release for the direct sequel to Edwards’ Godzilla, which plans to feature Americanized versions of other classic Toho monster including Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah. The production company is also facillitating a rare inter-studio collaboration between Warner Bros. and Universal to bring their respective Kaiju franchises together in an updated version of King Kong vs. Godzilla in 2020, which is set to feature the new reimagining of the giant ape set to debut in 2017’s Kong: Skull Island.
Godzilla: Resurgence is due in Japanese theaters on July 29, 2016, with plans for a global release still unconfirmed.