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Authentic Navy fleet dukes it out with Godzilla

Apr. 30, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
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The filmmakers for “Godzilla” were given access to Navy flattops and other support from the Defense Department to make sure the movie’s portrayal of sailors and other U.S. service members was as accurate as possible, said Navy Capt. Russ Coons, of the Navy Office of Information West.

“The thematics of the storyline are supported by our core values; and so you see in every instance the honor, courage and commitment of DoD men and women as they realize that certain tactics, techniques and procedures don’t have an effect on their ability to counter the effects of the monster, so they improvise, adapt and overcome,” Coons told Military Times on Wednesday.

Not only did DoD review the “Godzilla” script and provide experts to help portray the military accurately, the filmmakers were allowed to film interior and exterior scenes aboard three aircraft carriers: the Ronald Reagan, the Carl Vinson and the Nimitz, Coons said.

After helping the production of “Captain Phillips,” which tells the story of a real-life ship captain freed from Somali pirates by Navy SEALs, DoD was looking for other ways to tell the military’s story, Coons said.

“Believe it or not, an opportunity to partner with a 600-foot lizard gave us another opportunity to educate and inform the American public,” he said.

Enter the sea dragon

Over the past 60 years or so, “Godzilla” films have usually portrayed members of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and other troops as cannon fodder. But in the latest incarnation of the franchise, the hero is Navy Lt. Ford Brody, an explosive ordnance disposal technician played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Brody is returning home when the monster attacks, Coons said.

“At every turn that he’s challenged, he makes a conscious decision to stay and fight and protect and defend the citizens of the United States,” he said.

The Navy expertise is extremely important to filmmakers because Hollywood’s perception of the U.S. military is heavily influenced by World War II, Coons said.

“We definitely corrected the record and got accurate portrayals as much as possible,” he said. “You know, it’s not a documentary. It’s fiction. At the end of the day, the movie is all about the monsters; but we’re not window dressing and we’re not cannon fodder. We actually are integral to the fight.”

“Godzilla” allows DoD to showcase the might of Navy, which has not received as much attention as the Army and Marine Corps over the past decade, Coons said. A trailer posted Feb. 25 features a snippet of the sea monster surfacing next to an aircraft carrier and later shows fighter jets tumbling from the skies into the ocean.

“This film gave us an opportunity to demonstrate how we respond to a crisis,” Coons said. “It really showcases it at the level at our young men and women. Our hope is — the demographics for this audience are roughly 14- to 18-year-old teenagers who are watching movies — they are going to take their family to this film and they’re going to walk out of the theater and say: ‘You know, I never knew the Navy was such a sophisticated, professional organization; I really want to go explore it; they have some amazing UAV’s [unmanned aircraft] and technology and professionalism and honor and courage and valor; I never knew that, and maybe it’s something I want to do with my life.’”

Will all the carriers survive? You’ll have to catch it in theaters starting May 16 to find out.

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