WRITER: Hideaki Anno
When an unknown accident occurs in Tokyo Bay's Aqua Line, an emergency cabinet is brought together to try and find out what has caused the incident. As the team begins to look into the matter, a giant creature suddenly surfaces from Tokyo Bay and starts to come ashore causing widespread chaos and destruction. It's now up to the cabinet who must come together to try and bring down the monster known as Godzilla before it's too late.
I'm not going to pretend that I am some huge Godzilla fan. Growing up as a child, I wasn't a big fan of the character. I never really jumped on board with all of the early fifties, sixties, seventies or eighties incarnations of the giant creature. At the time of watching Shin Godzilla, I still haven't seen any of the films. Sadly, my first exposure to the iconic monster came in 1998 with Roland Emmerich's large-scale, big-budget, New York set disaster picture Godzilla. We all know how that turned out.
It wasn't until sixteen very long years after that I witnessed my first Godzilla film that I actually anticipated and thoroughly enjoyed after watching it. While Gareth Edwards Godzilla was met with lots of hate upon release as the Kaiju himself had roughly eight minutes of screentime in a two-hour film. The critics were a little kinder to his vision. I walked out of the film and still found a lot to admire about the latest incarnation. I thought the creature was very well done for the most part.
Now roll onto last year, and we have another Godzilla film. Only this time around, the character has returned to his home in Japan and Toho Studios. They've basically done their own reboot of the iconic franchise as if the original character had never actually existed in the previous films. The slate has now been wiped clean, and we once again see the rebirth of the iconic creature known as Godzilla. I went in expecting this to be a continuation of the previous films so this was an enjoyable introduction to how the Japanese do Godzilla.
Shin Godzilla takes no time at all in getting into the action and the destruction. The movie while being an origin story of sorts jumps right in the deep end. We forego any explanations of how he came to be and all the mechanics that make him tick are left for later in the film. They've chosen to start the movie with enough large-scale action to show the American studio system on how to do a proper Godzilla movie. They've shown how to do it right. I was hooked from the first minute.
Where the two Godzilla movies that I've seen have love stories at their core or are about family. Shin Godzilla is equal parts monster movie and bureaucratic tale. The film for the entire running time switches back and forth between Godzilla doing his thing and groups of government agencies coming together to find ways to eliminate Godzilla. What I really enjoyed about this film is how they focus on the government aspect as much as the monster mayhem. I loved that the film was basically a story about the government realising that Godzilla is a massive burden and they are more concerned with the costs of damages than the safety of their civilians.
The action set pieces in Shin Godzilla are epic. I know that the budget is considered small by comparison to most Hollywood productions, but with fifteen million dollars, they used every single cent here. While this is a film that clearly uses miniatures and less visual effects than its Hollywood counterparts. I was still loving all the destruction that was taking place. Entire cities are brought to ruins. We have so many set-pieces that involve Godzilla destroying Yokohama to Tokyo that I was never once bored. The movie managed to make the US versions of Godzilla seem low-key by comparison.
The visual effects in Shin Godzilla are at times, pretty cheesy. There's a moment early on when Godzilla is evolving from sea creature to the behemoth that we all know and love which looks silly but also made me kind of uneasy. This is clearly not ILM or Weta working on the visual effects. I still found myself enjoying the creature design. It had that whole old school vibe to it. The moment Godzilla unleashes mouthfuls of fire, and the large purple lasers are incredibly badass. I had a lot of fun with the visual effects.
Lastly, I found the acting to be excellent across the board. Every single actor in this film was solid. The one that left a lasting impression on me was Satomi Ishihara. She plays a Japanese government agent who is aligned with the US government. She just comes across as sassy and take-no-shit which I really liked seeing in this type of film. A mostly male cast where she has the most balls so to speak felt really great to see in a giant monster movie. A significant change from a lot of the ones that I've seen.
DEATH TOLL: 10 (Onscreen) - 1,000's (Collateral Damage)
BLOOD AND GORE:
- Blood pouring out of Godzilla's gills.
- Bloody water as Godzilla moves through the bay.
- Blood flowing into an underground tunnel.
- A soldier in a tank is crushed by a falling bridge.
- An Apartment block is knocked over while people are evacuating.
- A helicopter carrying the PM is blown up.
- Godzilla is hit in the back with bombs (blood shown).
Shin Godzilla is my first foray into the Japanese version of Godzilla. If the rest are anything like this film, I'm going to have to have a movie marathon and watch them all as I enjoyed this film so much. The movie is action-packed, the story is engaging, the acting is solid across the board, and I even felt that at times the film had a lot of heart. The only real nitpicks that I found in the movie were some of the cheesy visual effects. Still, I got onboard with the old school look of the film.