Godzilla: The Art of Destruction
 Mark Cotta Vaz
Language: English Release: 2014
Publisher: Insight Editions Pages: 168
Genre: Non-Fiction ISBN: 1608873447

Preview: Order
Page 70 - Page 77 - Page 137 - Page 140
Back Cover
Anthony Romero

Released in conjecture with Godzilla (2014), this is a large art book for the Legendary and Warner Bros. production. The publication clocks in at 9.5 inches by 10.6 inches, and at 168 pages (although pre-releases sources cited it at 156 pages) that makes this book pretty hefty, weighing almost three pounds. Although billed as an art book, its really filled with concept art and behind the scenes stills, making this an excellent one-stop-shop for those looking for a publication to read on the movie's background.

The book's best selling point is the beautiful, full page concept art contained inside. The show stealer is the segments on designing the two monsters: Godzilla and MUTO. This occurs at the halfway point for the publication. It describes the process in quick summary detail that goes over the long process. Godzilla is up first, and they devote pages 84-97 as a cool fold out for this. The fold out area features full page or larger views of nine different Godzilla designs. More designs follow directly after, as the team is creating "fish", "reptile" and "dragon" inspired Godzilla designs. Ultimately the final design is a mixture of bear, dog and eagle... with the bird of prey being a breakthrough in the creative process to get the desired look.

The MUTO are then given a long design show as well. Documenting the wide range of designs created for the male and female monsters. While the publication is mostly focused on the production, there are a few background details contained as well. For example, it provides a lot of details on the history of the MUTO earlier in the book. In fact, there are a lot of cool details sprinkled through out. For example, it talks about how a giant set from the 2009 movie Watchmen that had sat unused was converted into San Francisco's Chinatown for the new Godzilla film.

While a lot of detail is placed on the monster designs, set design also takes up a large portion of the book. Some of these are quite grand, including the designs for the quarantine area known as Q-Zone. Interesting side note, Bryan Cranston's Breaking Bad character Walter White is used in the concept designs as a placeholder for Cranston's character here as well. Also related to the set designs are the ones devoted to the San Francisco landscape. While the movie features a lot of inconsistencies with the Bay Area, the designs in the book are often spot on. For example, on page 121, an authentic BART logo is used for the subway system. In the film, a vastly different and incorrect BART logo is used instead... although can't be ruled out that this was done on purpose for rights reasons.

Sadly, the book does have some minor inconsistencies. For example, on page 45 they list the female MUTO as being 440 feet tall, while page 82 says 340 feet tall, with the latter being correct as there is no way the MUTO is larger than Godzilla. The publication also mentions that the Ford family lives in Oakland, which isn't a bad commute to San Francisco... although the film states the house is in San Francisco and the establishing shot outside is near the intersection to go toward San Jose which is in the city.

The Navy portion of the book also feels a bit overcooked. To get approval for assistance with filming, the production had to make sure that their depiction of the military showed off valor and courage. The book feels like it had to do the same thing, covering the military involvement in a bit too much detail. The book also ends rather abruptly as well. It chooses to focus on the memorable HALO drop sequence at the end, and kinda leaves one hanging without a conclusion following it.

Overall, despite some minor qualms, this book makes for a stellar read. Anyone who is into movie art books with even a passing interest in the film is well advised to give this publication a shot.