Gareth Edwards’ bid to not just revive, but redeem the Godzilla brand — at least, on non-Japanese shores — didn’t steer clear of every pitfall we discussed late last year. But Edwards and writers Max Borenstein, Dave Callaham and Frank Darabont should be credited for at least getting the adaptation part of their duties right.
Finally, the 1998 American abomination can rest in ignominy. The creative team for this installment eschewed the usual wink-nudge “blockbuster” tricks and managed to combine the best bits of some of the character’s past incarnations together into a monster that’s a little familiar, a little scary, and truly in command of the screen once he appears. That there’s already a sequel coming isn’t surprising, but that this preamble makes you look forward to it is, and pleasantly so.
The release of the trailer for the latest Godzilla release spawned a pretty good discussion over at The Mary Sue Wednesday, including this critique from a fan:
It’s too early to tell just how “global” this new Godzilla is, but it would be really nice if it acknowledged that the death of human beings is universal and is no more or less tragic by virtue of location, nationality or ethnic background. I don’t see that happening for the promotional campaign, because the people who make trailers and commercials are frequently different from the actual filmmakers, and tend to be somewhat problematic at the best of times – so I don’t see them doing anything different from the norm.
Because the sad fact is that lots of people are going to look on the deaths of non-Western non-white people in films, even outright disasters, as they do for real life: as sad or upsetting, but not *quite* as upsetting as if it happened to “their” people – even if it takes place in a western city with an ethnic majority. It isn’t cinema’s job to challenge those preconceptions, but cinema is in a strong position to make a difference. Would it really be such a problem for a film to make the “bold” statement that the death of thousands of non-Westerners is just as tragic as the death of thousands of Westerners? Would that really constitute “reverse”-racism? Is that infringing on white people’s representation in the media?
The first trailer doesn’t give us a lot to go on on that score. And even if the film’s IMDB cast list counts at least six people of color involved, what we see here is mostly focused on white characters (starting with the nameless white soldier who jumps into near-certain doom at the beginning). But the only POC featured, Ken Watanabe, will likely be playing a key character in Godzilla canon — Dr. Daisuke Serizawa, the man behind the invention that killed the original Godzilla in the monster’s 1954 eponymous debut.
But a piece of the synopsis has me, at least, hopeful that this film won’t just aspire to be a “reimagined version” of the character’s first appearance, and will show better judgment in picking which parts of Godzilla canon to explore.
When last we left the American Akira, the racebending had barely started: Garrett Hedlund was only being courted to play the lead character, Kaneda.
This week, thanks to Geek Tyrant and other sites, we got some more disturbing pieces of the puzzle, when this casting call for extras and stand-ins listed Twilight‘s Kristen Stewart stepping in as “Ky” – possibly because the character’s original name, Kei, was just too long for somebody’s tastes – and Helena Bonham-Carter playing Lady Miyako.
The casting call also shed some light on how the new version’s vision of “Neo-Manhattan” might play out. As “adaptations” go, it sounds like this Akira could hew as closely to thisAkira as Jesus Christ Superstar did to the Gospels. Spoilers are under the cut. Continue reading →
A few days ago, I talked a bit about the all-white shortlist for Akira on my site. After doing so, I decided to create my own all-Asian shortlist of actors and actresses that could star in the film. Since this is being posted on Racialicious, I’m fairly certain I don’t have to tell the readers that race and Hollywood are connected. But, still, let me just make it clear why I’m writing this post:
As I’ve alluded to many times on my own site, race isn’t supposed to be important in a post-racial world, BUT, we aren’t in a post-racial world yet, not when we still have people in America who believe President Obama is not an American simply because he’s the first American president of known African descent. As far as I can see, race will be a deciding factor in a lot of things for several more years to come, and Hollywood is one of the places it’ll be a factor. This all-white shortlist alone shows that race will still be a factor. Yes, the movie has been changed from the original setting of “Neo-Tokyo” to “Neo-Manhattan”, but that doesn’t mean that the race/ethnicity of the characters have to change.
There are not many roles for Asian actors to get outside of indie films and mainstream kung-fu/martial arts films, so when the time comes for there to be a film that should cast Asian actors, such as Akira and The Last Airbender, the bulk of the roles go to Caucasian actors instead of actors that actually look like the characters. The problem is that a lot of studios still hold on to the stereotypical notion that Asian actors and actresses only sell in martial arts/action films; that they can only be the lead in such a film, not in a dramatic and/or romantic film like Philadelphia or The Notebook. So, I say all of this to say that race and image in Hollywood go hand-in-hand and images in Hollywood still need to be addressed by the System-at-Large.
So with that out of the way, let’s get on to the shortlisting!