Our reporter on the spot, Lazarus Jones was at SDCC last week and got a nice look at Legendary pictures Godzilla Experience. Read on to see what it was all about.
A few blocks away from the San Diego Convention Center there was a monster laying in wait. Legendary Studios transformed a small warehouse for the convention, painting the outside with a large cracked design and radioactive decals. The inside though was a site to behold. As I’m ushered inside, the Godzilla Experience begins on a replica of a Tokyo street, with a ramen house and store front.
Within the room are props from the original Godzilla film, like the Oxygen Destroyer bomb. There are signs on the walls in Japanese; an app will translate these into secret messages for the keen eyed attendee who can find them all. And a whole room is a tornado of comic pages. After a few minutes of exploring the street, the neon signs give way to emergency lights an air raid siren. Godzilla is close and we need to get to safety.
I ran through the doors and am hit in the face by smoke as a pipe breaks. It’s a control room monitoring where Godzilla is, coordinating an offensive. After my face getting blasted, I choose to stand still in the room as it rumbles. At least until a man in a white lab coat asks me to press a button for him. There are noting but buttons.
“Uh, which one?” I ask.
Suddenly frantic he gestures past me, “That one!”
“This one?” I’m still unsure, I don’t want to get blasted in the face again.
“All of them!” Lights begin to flash and there is a great exhilaration as I get to press every button, toggle every switch, speak into the radio and turn down the different gages.
The whole room is pressing and grabbing whatever moves in the room as the security personnel shout orders. But the screens go fuzzy and the radioactive alarms still go off with a proximity alert. We have to be evacuated from the roof.
We run into the elevator and have a brief moment of pause before our assent is interrupted with a large tremor. It breaks and we have to emergency stop on an office floor. it’s a perfect recreation save for the giant LCD screens they have in place of windows. It’s night and raining. We are told to keep a look out for Godzilla and alert them we see him. There is another long pause. Rumbling footsteps are heard. Then, a large shoulder enters the screen, followed by the rest of a huge frame. It blocks the windows as it strides by, the subwoofers and hydraulics shaking the room. Our guides suspect he didn’t notice us and we are good to move on. Naturally as they say this, there is a rumble. A massive head appears in the window with alert eyes. It’s a careful combination, both an attempt at a realistic animal and the classic design it stems from. It then roars that familiar call and the room shakes from it. It takes it’s leave and we are sent to the exit.
It was a really solid experience, managing to sweep the nostalgia of the old films into a preamble for the big reveal of the new design. It lets you know they are aware of the history and fandom the movie is coming from and even encourages you to revel in it. The best part is it’s presentation of the scale of Godzilla and being able to feel that height and that power. Even though Godzilla has the benefit of being a pre-existing property, Legendary has clearly learned from its lack of promotional publicity from Pacific Rim, creating a sort of ride that emphasizes the tone of the film and the unique strengths in a distinctly memorable event. One can only hope the movie will follow suit as well.
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