Any challengers for spot-the-location in Godzilla? The box-office smash filmed for three months-plus in and around Vancouver and on Vancouver Island last year. Here’s a quick look at some local locations for the 3D reboot, which cost an estimated US$160 million to make and has earned US$200 million worldwide already. No wonder a sequel is in the works — hopefully to be filmed here as well.
Janjira, Japan 1999.
Students at the Janjira International School evacuate as young Ford watches the nuclear plant destroyed, with his mother trapped inside, filmed in Steveston south of Vancouver. Related: Steveston’s Japanese Cultural Centre as Janjira International School.
Fifteen years later, Ford’s now “crackpot” father (Bryan Cranston) sneaks back into the nuclear quarantine of Janjira with his reluctant grownup son (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) because whatever happened in 1999 is happening all over again. They gain access by boat into what is actually Finn Slough in Richmond. Related: Janjira Quarantine Zone in Richmond’s Finn Slough.
Father and son reach a store-lined street littered with cars and debris in the Janjira quarantine zone, which is actually Front Street in New Westminster. Related: Janjira Quarantine Zone on New Westminster’s Front Street.
The pair are taken into custody and transported to the Janjira Nuclear Plant, played by Coquitlam’s empty paper recycling plant on the Fraser River, which is keeping a MUTO (massive unidentified terrestrial organism) captive. That’s the secret Janjira has been hiding. Of course the MUTO rises up, destroying much of the plant, and flies away. I spotted local actors Brian Markinson and Ty Olssen in the plant scenes. Related: Coquitlam Recycling Plant as Janjira Nuclear Plant.
The MUTO flies to Hawaii, where the movie filmed for a week or so. Meanwhile, its mate rises up and escapes from a Nevada government site and terrorizes Las Vegas, where Godzilla filmed as well.
All the players converge on San Francisco for the Big Fight. In Lone Pine, California, aka Steveston of Storybrooke fame, Lieutenant Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) stares at train going by with nuclear warheads on board. Related: Godzilla Invades Storybrooke, aka Steveston. Related: Aaron Taylor-Johnson Films in Steveston.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson is really staring at a technocrane in Steveston. On screen his character sees this train with a nuclear warhead, filmed in Nanaimo early on. Related: Godzilla Films in South Nanaimo.
Lieutenant Ford and other soldiers are parachuted into downtown San Francisco, landing near Thurlow and Everleigh in downtown Vancouver. The movie intercuts Ford and soldiers in downtown Vancouver with scenes filmed on the steep hills of downtown New Westminster and on the old Watchmen set dressed as San Francisco’s Chinatown in south Burnaby. Related: Godzilla Turns New Westminster into the Streets of San Francisco. Related: Godzilla Turns Burnaby’s Watchmen Set Into San Francisco’s Chinatown.
Meanwhile, Ford’s son is on a school bus trying to get across the Golden Gate Bridge, filmed on a big green screen set at Vancouver’s Kent Hangar field. Related: San Francisco Schoolkid Evacuation on Golden Gate Bridge Set at Kent Hangar Field. And his wife (Elizabeth Olsen) is stuck near a BART station as Godzilla fights the two MUTOs above her, filmed at Oceanic Plaza. These gigantic reptilian monsters destroy some recognizable downtown Vancouver towers in some fun visuals. Related: Elizabeth Olsen Films Under Rain Tower at Oceanic Plaza. Related: Elizabeth Olsen Films More Scenes at Oceanic Plaza as San Francisco BART Station.
Godzilla and the MUTOs take their fight to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, played by the Steveston docks. There our hero Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) manages to take an activated nuclear warhead out to sea on a Go Whale Tours boat as Godzilla destroys his adversaries. Ford is rescued by helicopter before detonation. Related: Soldiers Carry Nuclear Warhead Down Steveston Docks. Related: Steveston Docks as San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf.
The Ford family are reunited in a FEMA shelter played by BC Place in downtown Vancouver.
And Godzilla — the King of the Monsters — swims out to sea. Roll credits.