One of the more interesting conversations I had while covering the red carpet at the Saturn Awards in Los Angeles last night was with Dean Devlin (there to receive the Dr. Donald A. Reed Award for career achievement), the writer/producer who collaborated with director Roland Emmerich on three ’90s films that enjoyed varying degrees of success: 1994’s Stargate, a modest international hit; the 1996 mega-blockbuster Independence Day; and the critically-reviled/commercially under-performing (though still profitable) Godzilla in 1998.
Given that Legendary Pictures is now re-booting the Godzilla franchise with Monsters director Gareth Edwards at the helm, I was curious what Devlin’s thoughts were on the new venture. See his pretty interesting response inside….
“I’m happy,” he told me. “First of all, one of the people at Legendary involved with it is Bill Fay, who was one of the producers with me on the last version. You know, to get another shot at getting that one right, I understand why they want to do it, and I really hope…the best [for them]. I hope they get it right.”
Many fans of the giant-monster franchise would likely agree with Devlin, given the bad taste that was left in the collective mouth of the moviegoing public following what most view as he and Emmerich’s failed attempt at bringing the reptilian behemoth to cinematic life (hardcore fans still often refer to the film as “GINO”, i.e. “Godzilla In Name Only”).
“Listen, I think there’s a lot of wonderful stuff in that movie, I really do,” he said in the film’s defense. “[But] I think the problem with that movie was the script I wrote. I think Roland did an amazing job directing it, I think the actors are great, I think when people look back now on the Blu-ray and see the visual effects, it’s a lot better than what people said at the time. The problem was the script! I made some big errors in that script. I wish I hadn’t, I wish I had a chance to fix it. But in another way, it’s allowed me to be a better writer since, because I made the mistakes on one, and I realized I’m never gonna make those mistakes again!”
Sure, at 13 years removed from the project it’s a little easier to speak to its failures, but nevertheless, Devlin’s willingness to take the blame for the film’s shortcomings (which isn’t totally fair, but okay) was kind of refreshing.
Sympathizing with him a bit, I noted that it must be a whole lot harder when your career failures are broadcast on such an enormous public stage. To that, Devlin could only offer the following (unintentionally – I think – evoking the film’s infamous tagline): “If you’re gonna fail, fail big!“