SidneyLumetSuxx’s review published on Letterboxd:
Halloween Time Flick #11
Okay. Now that I have time, I can finally write my review for this. And I swear I won't let it get as long as my last Godzilla review...
So, I'm a pretty huge Godzilla fan. I grew up watching all his flicks since I was, like, four or something and I've never ever stopped. I currently own about half of them on blu-ray. The Heisei Series is my favorite era of Godzilla movies because it's just simply the best era of Godzilla movies. Godzilla was at his prime, both commercially and technically, and his foes were top-notch too.
But many don't realize that Godzilla wasn't always battling other kaiju. And he always wasn't the "good" guy either. Godzilla started back in 1954 as a representation of America's nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki back in 1945. Plowing through buildings and monuments and people, sometimes even blasting his atomic breath out everywhere. This was a direct parallel to all the terror Japanese citizens experienced during those 1945 holocaustal bombings.
Now it's 2016 and Japan has returned with another entry into the Godzilla franchise; their first one since 2004's Godzilla: Final Wars. And they've come back with a sure bang. So to speak.
Shin Godzilla, or Godzilla: Resurgence, is by far the most political Godzilla flick since its 1954 beginnings, and it may arguably even be more political than that.
Shin Godzilla starts right away with the Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line flooding and collapsing. From here all the important players in handling this kind of situation gather to figure out what has caused this. Then suddenly a gargantuan creature breaches the land. Crawling ever so fast and nearly crushing everything in its path. Later, it becomes clear that it's an evolving creature, only getting larger and larger until it finally becomes ... GODZILLA.
Throughout the film, every single department and headquarters and whatevers you can imagine are brought in to offer their counsel, their expertise, their opinion, their theories and their etc to help figure out how to handle this crisis at hand. Really, any and every person that would ever have anything to say during an event like this appears in this film. There had to be at least 978 speaking parts in this movie. You got countless biologists (both marine and otherwise) and Health & Safety folk and military people (both Japanese and American) and politicians (both Japanese and American) and the list goes on and on. There are Rebuilding and Reconstruction bills in the works, there are UN discussions and proposals, and near the end some serious ethical issues approach the Japanese. It just goes on and on, dude.
In a way, it's almost like Tomas Alfredson's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Except, if I'm being honest, without as much cinematic merit. But if you're even remotely ADD, or one of those fake weirdos that pretend they're ADD, then Shin Godzilla has enough people and political dialogue to make your head spin off.
But it's remarkable. It takes an impossible scenario and presents it in the most realistic way it can. The whole film can be summed up as many things so here are JUST the first three that came to mind as I was watching it.
1) An allegory to Japan amending its post-war pacifist constitution.
2) An allegory to the response of a crisis, whether it be from an outside threat (Japan is, after all, in close proximity to China and North Korea) or a natural threat (remember when Japan was hit by a devastating earthquake-then-tsunami in 2011?) or even an self-inflected threat (2011 Fukishima meltdown which Gareth Edwards' 2014 Godzilla also alluded to) or all three!
3) A passing of the baton via OUT WITH THE OLD AND IN WITH THE NEW way of thinking, because the people who end up saving the day are youngsters that realize their elderly peers have only limited problem-solving ideas and that other ideas must be explored. That also a government run by a bunch of old people who can't make a decision is a crisis in itself; almost a threat as big as any other, like stopping a fire by dumping barrels of gasoline into it.
Or all three!
The Godzilla franchise is, without a doubt, the most political franchise in cinema history. Twenty-nine flicks (thirty-one if you count the two American ones) and they all have political undertones. Some heavier than others, of course, but even the campiest ones have significant subtext, and Shin Godzilla is a perfect representation of what the franchise has to offer. Both in terms of entertainment and in furthering important conversations.
Aside from all that though, how is it?
Well, I have a few complaints. My main issue that Godzilla isn't given as much character. Sure, he's probably the most terrifying he's ever been but that's really about it. The only other problem I had with the film is its cinematophery. I wasn't expecting it to be decent looking at all, I mean, just look at some of its predecessors, but when I noticed it was looking a lot better than most and was trying to actually look cinematic, I saw what I consider mistakes. Lots of odd close-ups and lots of weird depth of field. The CGI either looks pretty friggin' cheap or very friggin' awesome. The sound design is bizarre and the use of music was sometimes also strange.
In the long run, those are minor issues. Especially when talking about a Godzilla flick. But its political density and realism is impossible to ignore, the terrifying nature of Godzilla is the highest I think it's ever been, and director Hideaki Anno's attention to detail is fantastic.
Shin Godzilla is a worthy film for cinema lovers, for Godzilla fans, or folks interested in politics.