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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, finds himself at the centre of a media storm when his wife is reported missing and assumed dead

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lindsay Lohan made her West End debut earlier this week in 'Speed-the-Plow'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

art
Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
tv
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
Arts and Entertainment
Sergeant pfeffer: Beatles in 1963
booksA song-by-song survey of the Beatles’ lyrics
Arts and Entertainment
music'I didn't even know who I was'
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl was left in a conundrum with too much talent and too few seats during the six-chair challenge stage
tvReview: It was tension central at boot camp as the ex-Girls Aloud singer whittled down the hopefuls
Arts and Entertainment
Kalen Hollomon's Anna Wintour collage

art
Arts and Entertainment

TV Grace Dent on TV
Arts and Entertainment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

music
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer is believed to be playing a zombie wife in Patient Zero

film
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Gatiss says Benedict Cumberbatch oozes sex appeal with his 'Byronic looks' and Sherlock coat
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Clothing items bearing the badge have become popular among music aficionados
musicAuthorities rule 'clenched fist' logo cannot be copyrighted
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson will star in Seth MacFarlane's highly-anticipated Ted 2

film
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in 'Gone Girl'

film
Latest stories from i100
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.

    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
    Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

    Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

    Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
    Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

    Education, education, education

    TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
    It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

    It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

    So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
    This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

    Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

    Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
    We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

    Inside the E15 'occupation'

    We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
    Witches: A history of misogyny

    Witches: A history of misogyny

    The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
    Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
    'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style