Shin Godzilla

Shin Godzilla ★★★★

I found the politics of this film to be very interesting. While Higuchi and Anno are big fans of Godzilla the property, they don't seem to be enamored with Ishiro Honda's anti-war and utopian ideals (here's a pretty revealing interview where co-director Higuchi admonishes Honda: The film is definitely more influenced by Kihachi Okamoto than Honda, who is Anno's proclaimed favorite director. (although the Godzilla scenes are shot in Honda's classical way, with tons of negative space). More-so, the film combines the procedural happenings of Japan's Longest Day with the satirical wit of The Human Bullet.

A good portion of the film is satire, critiquing the Japanese governments' responses to national disasters, and its over reliance on the United States. Instead of being portrayed as a tragic dinosaur, or a malevolent spirit, Godzilla is rather a soulless bio-organism, a problem that can be over-come through the tenacity of the Japanese people, which definitely reads as a 1:1 stand-in for the 3-11 event.

Japan's relationship with America is portrayed at its most brutally honest and contentious here. There's even a whole meta sub-plot where an "American" (played by Satomi Ishihara, who's probably the worst part of the movie) co-opts the film's narrative much like Raymond Burr does in the original.

Thematically, the film is pretty much in stark contrast to something like Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack. Where that film was all about Japan being reminded of its war atrocities and suffocating the nationalistic chants for an autonomous military, this film outright encourages those actions at times. Whether that's good or bad is up to you.

What seems to be the biggest criticism among westerners, ended up being my favorite thing about the movie. The government proceeding held for the majority of the film are filled with so many familiar faces to fans of Japanese cinema. Hideaki Anno mis-en-scene is kind of wonderful too. He tries all types of different groups of table formations and camera angles to keep these meeting scenes visually interesting.

I would say as a tokusatsu fan this film was a bit of a disappointment. There's very little actual practical effects on display outside of a few miniatures. Godzilla is all-CGI, except for maybe two or three shots (which are the best scenes of the movie). At its best, the CGI convinces you that there's a guy in a suit walking around (which I mean as a compliment). During its worst, it looks Asylum-tier at some points. It probably is the best CGI to come out of Japan though (which, again, isn't saying much).

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