What's that? It's a monster summer!

Brace yourself, because they’re going to be everywhere this summer – from the mutant creatures on our cinema screens to the music charts to giant arenas

As any action hero – and Hollywood executive – knows, you just can’t keep a good monster down. Godzilla, the fire-breathing mutant dinosaur who first emerged from beneath the seas of Japan in 1954, will soon be slugging it out at the box office with Frankenstein, who made his first appearance on film in 1910.

After years of being sidelined by superheroes, wizards and vampires, monsters are once again invited to the Hollywood ball.

The animated Monsters University is currently the biggest box-office draw in the UK, while Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro’s tale of sea monsters vs robots, is at number three.

Two new Frankensteins are in production, one starring Daniel Radcliffe as Igor the hunchback while, I, Frankenstein, starring Bill Nighy and Aaron Eckhart, will pit Mary Shelley’s monster (created in 1816) against demons and gargoyles.

But if the audience reaction at this weekend’s Comic-Con in San Diego is anything to go by, it is Godzilla, which will lumber on to cinema screens next year, that will be the biggest monster hit. The lizard was all over Comic-Con, which continues today with that enemy of intergalactic monsters, Doctor Who, celebrating his 50th anniversary with current star Matt Smith and writer Steven Moffat.

What was once a haven for geeks has turned into a hugely important movie industry extravaganza where film-makers and stars preview and showcase their work directly to potential audiences. It was at last year’s convention that Godzilla was finally given the green light after its years of development hell, thanks to the enthusiastic reception fans gave to the film’s British director, Gareth Edwards.

Edwards, who made his name with the appropriately titled low-budget 2010 hit Monsters (about aliens), said he made his first trip to Comic-Con last year to discuss possibly rebooting the monster movies, and the audience reaction helped to get the film approved for production.

“I hadn’t really comprehended how significant it was going to be for the film,” he said. “I thought some people might clap and they’d get on with the next film, but the reaction – I was so knocked out by it. There was so much love for Godzilla. The film was going to happen, but they pushed it over the finish line to get a green light, so I’m very much indebted to everyone in Hall H last year.”

Yesterday, Hall H was rewarded when the cast, featuring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen and Bryan Cranston, as well as Edwards turned up to unveil the first look at the monster.

Godzilla’s return is a bit of a risk, however. Its last Hollywood re-emergence in 1998 (there have been at least 28 Japanese films) ended in disaster. Audiences initially flocked to see it but soon trailed off, leading to the cancellation of a planned trilogy and franchise.

The screenwriter Frank Darabont said the latest film will add a “very compelling human drama”, however, and that Godzilla would be tied to a “different contemporary issue” rather than the original atomic bomb testing which gave the monster its laser eyes.

He added: “What we’re trying to do with the new movie is not have it camp. We’re kind of taking a cool new look at it, but with a lot of tradition in the first film. We want this to be a terrifying force of nature.”

Paul Gallagher and Andrew Johnson

Volcanic eruptions aside, Iceland is seldom a crucible for the latest chart-topping musical hotness. Of Monsters and Men, the unassuming five-piece indie folk band from Iceland who are selling out arenas around the world, are exactly that. Just don’t call them twee.

Singer-songwriter Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdottir had to look up that word when she first heard it used in English, and shakes her head when asked if she thinks it sums up the band’s tunes. But the 24-year-old admits the term hasn’t done the group any harm.

After winning Iceland’s equivalent of battle of the bands in 2010, they released their self-funded debut album, My Head Is an Animal, as a “hobby” to distract themselves from work and university courses. In a historic feat, it reached No 6 in the official US charts, the highest position for an Icelandic group.

They have since been compared to everyone from Arcade Fire to Cyndi Lauper and the Cardigans; the record reached No 1 in the iTunes chart in nine countries last year, including the UK, US, Canada, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand and Portugal. The single “Little Talks”, a folk song accompanied by percussion, brass and a few hoots thrown in for good measure, sold more than four million copies worldwide, and was named iTunes UK’s Alternative Single of the Year.

But the band – comprising Ragnar Thorhallsson, Arnar Rosenkranz Hilmarsson, Kristjan Pall Kristjansson, Brynjar Leifsson and Hilmarsdottir – remain understated. Guitarist Thorhallsson is adamant that the British folk act Mumford & Sons helped the group break the American market. He does not flinch when I ask him about the reports that a certain Duchess of Cambridge chose their music on a playlist for the royal birth. Did he know who Kate was? “No,” he smiles. “Not at all. But I’d love every queen to play our music while having a baby. It’s pretty cool.”

Thorhallsson said he never imagined they could garner international recognition. “Usually bands that are big in Iceland don’t get to tour a lot. You think of Björk or Sigur Ros – they’re the only two who are able to do it from Iceland steadily. It’s expensive and hard. It was never really a thought for us. We never thought we’d be able to do it,” he said. 

But 16 months into an 18-month world tour and they have already experienced their fair share of hysteria, including a car chase in Chicago.

The band performed at a sold-out Somerset House last week and will return to the UK to play at V Festival next month, as well as heading to Scandinavia, Japan and then Australia. “We always look at Iceland as a safe haven,” Hilmarsdottir said. “When I land, and I drive into the city and I see the lava, it’s an immediate feeling of ‘phew’.”

The band hope to start writing their next album once they return home, and for now they want to swap the mayhem of the past year and a half for a little calm.

“Loud is good, but space and quietness is also one of the greatest instruments,” said Thorhallsson.

Sarah Morrison

Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam