Shin Godzilla

Shin Godzilla ★★½

More a commentary on Japan's dysfunctional bureaucracy than a straightforward creature feature, Shin Godzilla (Shin Gojira) offers a satirical take on the Japanese government's incompetency when it comes to responding decisively to a calamity of an unprecedented scale and shows how it is further exacerbated by the current political hierarchy in place. Just like the original classic, the monster is a metaphor here and nothing more.

Directed by Hideaki Anno, the story takes its inspiration from the 2011 Tohoku earthquake & the nuclear disaster that followed, and focuses more on the human response to Godzilla's rampage instead of revelling in the citywide destruction the giant monster leaves behind in its wake, something Hollywood is guilty of. However, the drama unfolds too fast to keep up with, and is all the more bogged down by an overabundance of characters & subplots.

To make matters worse, at least for me, the visual effects are downright terrible and that's inexcusable for a film made in 2016. Practical effects would've been a better choice than CGI here, for the rendering is plainly bad. Those who can look past cartoonish visuals won't mind it much but it killed all the seriousness of the situation for me multiple times. Also not helping the cause are its poorly written characters, difficulty in following dialogues, excessive runtime and campy action.

Overall, Shin Godzilla is definitely more allegorical & layered than its Hollywood counterpart and makes for a fine reboot of Toho's famous franchise by returning the series & its monster to its classic roots. It is ambitious, provocative & scathing in its critique of Japanese politics but the technical shortcomings & overcrowded narrative do prevent it from soaring to better heights. While far from the typical monster fare that we are used to, Toho Pictures' latest iteration will nonetheless appease fans of the saga.

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