SHOOT: GODZILLA’s Japanese Nuclear Power Plant & its Quarantine Zone (in New Westminster)
Does the 3D Godzilla movie reboot reflect the real world event of Japan’s 2011 earthquake/tsunami and the resulting nuclear crisis at some of the country’s older nuclear power plants? Is that the “contemporary issue” screenwriter Frank Darabont spoke of? It would seem so. “6.3 Earthquake Rocks Eastern Japan” said the news crawl on set screens at the Vancouver Convention Centre dressed as the Honolulu airport at the start of filming here in mid-March.
Janjira appears to be the fictional nuclear power plant in this modern-day re-imagining of the radioactive Japanese sea monster as a “terrifying force of nature”.
Godzilla used an abandoned Coquitlam paper recycling plant on the Fraser River to film a couple of weeks of scenes of the Janjira nuclear power station at risk of meltdown with radioactive leaks. Is this what wakes Godzilla (plural) from their slumber?
Since Coquitlam, the Janjira plant has been played by an industrial building on Annacis Island and its offices by Nokia in Burnaby’s Glenlyon Business Park. Godzilla also used Steveston’s Japanese Cultural Centre to double as the Janjira International School for a day of scenes of school children being evacuated from the area.
For scenes of the aftermath of nuclear disaster, Godzilla shot in at least two nuclear quarantine zones: Richmond’s Finn Slough as an empty Japanese fishing village and New Westminster’s Front Street as a once-vibrant Japanese street of restaurants and shops.
Lead character Lieutenant Ford (Kick Ass’s Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and his stepfather “The General” (Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston) walked through the Japanese street set littered with abandoned Japanese cars and covered in bamboo vines on a blockaded Front Street two Sundays ago. I missed the shoot but photographed some of the set dressing ahead of filming.
Godzilla’s main unit is about to wrap filming in Vancouver but the 2nd unit is expected to be around until the weekend.