Well, the 12 year wait is over, and it’s finally here. This week I’m taking a look at Toho’s latest Godzilla production, SHIN GODZILLA, directed by HIDEAKI ANNO and SHINJI HIGUCHI. At this point, I’m dying for something good to be added to the Godzilla franchise because I can’t handle another bullshit American version. Let’s take a look then, shall we?
The film opens with some disturbances in the Tokyo Bay with an abandoned boat being mysteriously attacked by something underwater. As the beast approaches land, the only hint we get as to what it is (gee, I wonder) are the waves of gushing blood. That’s right! It’s itty bitty baby Godzilla in his precious infant form! I know he’s not supposed to be seen as cute, but he was so sloppy and adorable with his big sparkly eyes and lack of balance. In this form, Godzilla can’t even walk upright so he just kind pushes through the city and up buildings using his hind legs, looking like a lost, floppy lizard-puppy. However, this doesn’t last too long as we watch Godzilla rapidly grow and adapt to his new surroundings and playground: Tokyo!
SHIN GODZILLA doesn’t follow a journalist or an average citizen who is in the heat of the radioactive monster’s destruction. Rather, this film is from the perspective of a government that realizes they’re about to lose the city, possibly country, and have to work together to save as much as possible. They’re already very aware that after this event, Tokyo won’t be the same.
Since literally every single character is hurriedly introduced along with their title, following who is who and what is what can get confusing, but the choice does accurately reflect the frazzled state the government is in. Rightfully so, because Godzilla comes across as more powerful than he has ever been. Godzilla is not only a concern that’s relegated to Japan, but is now being monitored by the whole world as a danger. The government struggles to come up with a solution to their god-sized problem amid numerous regulations and find themselves dealing with a strict time limit, otherwise, they’re getting nuke no. 3 dropped on their soil.
Being a flexible, easy-to-please movie watcher and a lover of Godzilla, I didn’t mind the lengthy, frantic back-and-forths, even if I did zone out once or twice. However, I can see how this would be frustrating to some viewers as the movie is two hours and Godzilla doesn’t get much screentime. But before you judge too quickly, holy shit, is Godzilla incredible. Had the film not given us a glimpse to how truly catastrophic this incarnation is, showing the lengthy discussions among the government officials would not have been justified. There is a particular display of his power when the government gets it’s first fleet together to attack and it is staggering. I was in great company while watching this, so there were loud squeals and screams of delight! We were like drunk, middle-aged dads at a SuperBowl party, you’d think there was a touchdown every time Godzilla came on screen.
More interestingly, we get to see a modern Tokyo dealing with Godzilla, it’s citizens taking to Twitter and freaking out. The government attempted to give the impression that they were cool and in control, but with the fast communication on social media, people were realizing there ain’t shit the government can do to save them from a country-sized monster that shoots GUIDED LASERS OUT OF IT’S FUCKING BACK.
Of all the actors involved, I have to say the show-stealer for me was Mikako Ichikawa, the “Deputy Director of Nature Conservation Bureau” (HIROMI OGASHIRA). She wasn’t even considered a “main” character but she had the greatest presence out of anyone there and her knowledge was intimidating.
If you’re expecting to see something with lots of senseless monster action, this might not be the film for you. SHIN GODZILLA is a fresh origin story, a reinterpretation of the first movie that came out in ’54. The monster’s redesign is pretty terrifying and even though you don’t get to see him all that much, it’s worth the watch just for the few scenes he’s in. Godzilla is now entirely CG, but the team of animators utilized every second of screentime, resulting in a beautifully done creature that will satisfy fans across the board. So it’s not a question of whether I’m going to see SHIN GODZILLA in theaters, rather, it’s how many times am I going to see it in theaters? Probably a lot. If you’re a fan of Kaiju, I’m not going to recommend you see this, I’m going to assume that you already have your tickets bought. And if you don’t, I don’t know if we can be friends.