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
Novelist Martin Amis at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

books
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams will be given a 'meaningful remembrance' at the Emmy Awards

film
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' movie take on The Jungle Book

film
Arts and Entertainment
DJ Calvin Harris performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Arts and Entertainment
Umar Ahmed and Kiran Sonia Sawar in ‘My Name Is...’
Theatre
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home