Book review: ‘Godzilla: The Art of Destruction’

This book is richly detailed and a must-have for Godzilla fans. Published on 13 May 2014, , it is a visual showcase and history of the Warner Bros. and Legendary’s 2014 “Godzilla” movie.

To begin with while the jacket is strikingly visual, the book cover is more elegant and subdued–glossy black on satin finish black. The inside is also subtle–silverish gray, giving you a hint of how the creature looks. This publication is all about shibui versus iki, it means to present both the subdued simplicity of Zen style and the more lively audacity of the Japanese merchant class meeting up with Hollywood style.

Japanese characters are used throughout as background, highlighting the titles by repeating them in Japanese.

Director Gareth Edwards has written the introduction and it becomes clear that Edwards is the auteur of this Godzilla. Author Mark Cotta Vaz previously wrote the LA Times best seller “Living Dangerously: The Adventures of Merian C. Cooper, Creator of King Kong.”  His style is journalistic.  The book is full of quotes and isn’t that what you want, to hear the voices of the people involved in the production of this movie>

The book is split into three sections: Part One: Dreaming, Part Two: Conjuring and Part Three: Creation.

Part One looks at the various considerations behind the scripting and how the creative team decided to bring and adapt the history and themes of the original 1954 movie. You don’t get a visual history of Godzilla’s development, but a brief history of the events that led to the original Godzilla’s creation are touched upon.

Godzilla had to have an adversary in this movie which is not just a monster movie, but also a disaster movie. So the development of the MUTOs is discussed. For both Godzilla and the MUTOs, you see photos of the maquettes used alongside sketches and illustrations alongside stills from the actual movie.

Part Two introduces the actors, beginning with Aaron Taylor-Johnson who plays Ford Brody, the son of Joe Brody who is played by Bryan Cranston. Ford is the movie’s emotional center. He is a soldier whose father’s obsession leads him to Godzilla. After his father’s death, which proves his father wasn’t really as crazy as Ford had thought, Joe’s concern is getting back to his wife and son. In the back of our minds, we remember that Joe lost his wife due to these gigantic monsters.

Photos of the costume designs are juxtaposed next to movie stills. Pragmatic concerns such as lighting and space for the control room are discussed so you get some idea about both the technical aspects and the creative aspects of movie making.

As an artist, I especially enjoyed the fold-out which shows the evolution of Godzilla as a concept for this movie. Rejected illustrations and the reasons why the moviemakers decided to take a different angle gives you a window into their decision making processes.

This section includes the “Godzilla Encounter at Comic-Con” which I have fond memories of.

Part Three is the shortest section and seems like a epilogue. Not much is said here, but still the illustrations and stills are cool and take nothing away from the total design of the book.

I appreciate seeing the storyboards. You can contrast the amount of detail between that and some of the illustrations. You also see some of the green screen scenes beside the CGI movie stills so you can see the end product.

“Godzilla: The Art of Destruction”

Hardcover: 156 pages.

Publisher: Insight Editions (13 May 2014)


  • ISBN-10: 1608873447
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608873449
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 10.6 x 0.8 inches
  • List price: $45
  • Amazon price: $28.46.


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