Shin Godzilla

Shin Godzilla ★★★★½

“A God Incarnate. A City Doomed” - Tagline

After remaining dormant for over a decade, Toho decided to revitalize Godzilla in 2016 with a full reboot that’d focus on what made the original so iconic. Gone are the giant robots, space monsters, campy overtones, crazy plots, and Godzilla being a force of good. 

Now I like all those things, I grew up on the Showa and Heisei era of Godzilla films and I love them dearly. So this movie really needed to wow me. Then it opens with the classic Toho logo and immediately follows it with Godzilla’s iconic 1954 roar. Not only that, but the movie used recognizable song tracks from King Kong VS Godzilla, Terror of Mechagodzilla, Invasion of Astro Monster, Godzilla Vs Mechagodzilla 2, and of course the original Godzilla. So needless to say, I knew I was going to love this movie.

The vast majority of the film is spent watching politicians and task forces talking about what courses of action to take, military strategies, economic collapse, and other bureaucratic nonsense. It sounds boring, but director Hideaki Anno (Neon Genesis Evangelion) infuses these scenes with a sense of urgency. Couple that with some quick cuts with the camera and terrific writing and acting, and these scenes are incredibly entertaining to watch. The focus on politics allows for Anno to satirize and deride the current Japanese government. They’re so determined to solve everything with endless meetings and wondering if certain political groups will approve that it leads to many innocent lives being lost. Make no mistake, this movie is incredibly patriotic. Japan rises up and meets the challenge due to everyone coming together to find a way to defend Godzilla. They’re all risking their lives so that their great country can survive this ordeal. I’m not mocking, there’s nothing wrong with loving your country. It’s just a bit heavy handed, it’s more patriotic than any American film I’ve ever seen, it’s up there with movies like Wolf Warrior and Wolf Warrior 2.

Godzilla is a force of pure destructive energy in this. We don’t even classify as insects to him. Nothing stands in his way in this. Sure the CGI is occasionally lacking and sure I wish it was a man in a suit, but damn is he a terrifying threat. His first form is rather laughable with less than impressive CG and big googly eyes, but once his final Godzilla form emerges he becomes the stuff of nightmares. His design is eerily deformed and looks deranged. He certainly resembles something bathed in toxic waste. This movie has the most cataclysmic atomic breath in any Godzilla movie ever. The first time we see it is one if the most breathtaking sequences in the entire movie. Starting as explosive fire then focusing until it’s a beam of pure atomic energy, it’s something to behold. Godzilla’s even able to fire the beams out through his dorsal fins and tail! 

Shin Godzilla is a stunning example of a proper reboot. Taking what we love and doing something new with it, without destroying what came before. It’s not my favorite Godzilla movie, but it is one of the most impressive, both in story and visuals. I can only hope for a sequel that answers that ending sting. Don’t know what that was about, but I’m excited all the same.

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