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Shin Godzilla Review


After a torturous 12 year break, Toho is finally back with a brand new Japanese Godzilla film titled “Shin Godzilla.”

“Shin Godzilla” (AKA “Godzilla Resurgence”) starts off with a bang (an undersea eruption and a flooded tunnel to be exact) and never lets up. The film (which is presented in Japanese with English subtitles) plays like a real time disaster film as we follow both the disastrous events taking place in Tokyo involving a strange creature and the behind-the-scenes bureaucratic discussions taking place in multiple rooms involving defense ministers, the coast guard, the disaster task force, the Prime Minister, internal affairs, security officials, biologists, the environment ministry, the Governor, self-defense forces, special task force, and more.

As the creature comes ashore and begins to wreak havoc in Tokyo, we see it mutating and evolving. That creature is, of course, Godzilla (albeit in different forms than we are used to). Amidst lengthy talks and decision making, the Tokyo Government officials and world officials must figure out how to stop Godzilla without resorting to irreversible self-destructive decisions.

As much as I love the 2014 “Godzilla,” I was anxious to see a new Toho Godzilla film. Unlike their sloppy last effort (“Godzilla: Final Wars”), “Shin Godzilla” is a fresh new start (AKA reboot) for the long-running franchise. The film does not feel like an average Godzilla film in that it’s more about how the Government is dealing with the destructive force of Godzilla. Unlike past installments where we get stuck with one, two, or three bad characters, “Shin Godzilla” is constantly jumping from character to character which is, in the case, Government officials. We see all of the departments in action, how people are responding to disasters, how decisions are being made to save and protect people, etc. It may sound ambitious, overwhelming and a bit odd, but it works in the context of the film as it grounds the story.

Much of the film’s success is attributed to the directing team of Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi. Not only do these inventive directors bring an in your face directing style with all sorts of swirling camera shots, POV shots, creative angles, and intense action, but they have also crafted an extremely well paced movie. The movie moves super fast from the first frame. Normally, I might be bothered by a film with so many quick cuts and very little breathing room, but it works here because this is a movie about disasters, panic, chaos, and time running out. It should feel breathless.

If you’re a Godzilla fan who is perhaps partial to the action heavy movies ala “Godzilla Vs. Destroyah,” “Shin Godzilla” might not be up your alley. It’s more of a think piece about politics, disasters, nature, red tape and humanity. The movie may take shots at politics and the decision making processes, but in the end, it is all about the human spirit and people working together to overcome obstacles. It ends with hope which was actually rather powerful. As for the action and Godzilla’s screentime, they are both limited much in the way it was in the 1954 “Gojira” and 2014’s “Godzilla.” The big explosive sequences that do occur, however, do not disappoint. For me though, the action is secondary as Godzilla is always at its best when it has something to say about the world at large or when it goes back to its roots. “Shin Godzilla” does just that.

As for Godzilla himself, the film offers up a decidedly fresh take on the iconic Kaiju. Some purists may frown at the drastic changes made to the Big G design, but I liked seeing something different. Yes, I think we can all agree the weird googly eyes need to go, but aside from that, the radiation burned mutating Godzilla was a fascinating concept that played well on screen. The different forms of Godzilla in CGI and suit form made for some neat visuals.

I couldn’t end this review without mentioning that Akira Ifukube’s original theme music is played here. There was something so satisfying about hearing it on two separate occasions. It really made you feel like you were back in the Godzilla universe again.

Overall Thoughts: “Shin Godzilla” will likely divide fans, but to me, this is a cinematic triumph. When 2016 is all over and done with, this will easily be one of the year’s best films.

Note: “Shin Godzilla” will be have a special 1-week engagement in the U.S. October 11-18, 2016 courtesy of Funimation.

October 6, 2016 - Posted by | Movie Review | ,

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