Shin Godzilla

Shin Godzilla ★★★½

All I knew going into this was that it was the latest Japanese incarnation of Godzilla, so I was curious. Once I found out that it was co-directed by Hideaki Anno, creator of the stellar anime Neon Genesis Evangelion, my curious turned into excitement. From what I've read, Anno was the writer and director of the character-based segments, while co-director Shinji Higuchi was the director of the action.

What Anno has done on his side is wholly unique to the series and possibly the kaiju genre as a whole. Rather than focus on a random group of citizens getting caught up in the middle of this major disaster, Anno has focused on the painfully lengthy and needless bureaucracy of the government's reaction to a sudden and massive threat. The film has a strong amount of imagery that's reminiscent of the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster that hit Japan, so it's easy to assume Anno's script is a commentary on what he felt was a slow reaction to that. His half of the movie is very methodical, and it's clear that he intentionally made it as a black hole of character development, with characters so formal and rigid that it's impossible to care about them. I don't really have a problem with this, because I never tend to care about the characters in these movies anyway, so it's kind of like he's cutting out the middle man.

On Higuchi's end, it's fantastic. There's some imaginative alterations to Godzilla, such as his evolution from a smaller and weaker creature, and the new ability to shoot lasers out of the spikes on his back. While the special effects are not as polished as their American counterparts, they're used in more inventive concepts and shots that make them stand out more than what you'd see in your average Transformers movie.

It's an interesting take on a series and genre that has existed for about 60 years now, which is commendable. It's not an entirely successfully film, but it kept me intrigued for a lot of it, and impressed a number of times. I'd say it's even better than the 2014 American film.

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