Shin Godzilla

Shin Godzilla ★★★★

If the 2014 American Godzilla movie was a viewpoint movie of the common person, of the foot-soldier caught in the middle of a battle between godlike forces beyond his control, then Shin Godzilla is the viewpoint movie of the amorphous bureaucracy reacting to the disaster unfold. It's a disaster movie from the point-of-view of the only ones who can do anything about it. And it makes for some biting satire.

This is most definitely a Hideaki Anno movie, and his directorial style seeps all over the movie. All the same camera shots, abrupt transitions, and quick shouting dialogue he made famous in Neon Genesis Evangelion are on full display here. As far as I'm aware, this is his first live-action effort, and he made the transition very cleanly.

I'm sure this movie got numerous complaints about the fact that there's a whole lot of dialogue from a whole lot of ill-defined characters, but I loved it actually, because it treats the characters mostly as part of a whole. The mistakes they make, the hastily-made decisions or too-long-waited hesitations, are the responsibility of everyone, not any individual character. Names are pretty much lost here, and the only character who strays outside the group never "goes rogue" like you'd expect, and still complies with his superiors throughout the film.

This works because the film, especially the first half, is essentially a satire about over-bloated bureaucracy. The movie is apparently a direct response to the disaster control from the 2011 tsunami in Japan, but it can apply to really any situation where bureaucracy and red tape leads to major problems.

Godzilla himself is done very well and is very different from the 2014 movie's incarnation, enough to most definitely not confuse moviegoers. He destroys a heck of a lot of stuff and looks really cool while he does it.

Speaking of looking good, the effects are, for a Japanese production, top-notch. There's only a few shots that made me feel very ehhhh. The hybrid of Godzilla being animated and live-action was done really well. Knowing that the budget was probably half that of the 2014 movie, I'd say it's definitely acceptable overall.
Oh, apparently the budget was $15 million, or $145 million less than the 2014 movie. And they were able to do all of that?? Holy damn, they did Hollywood-level effects with that budget then, because that was some good stuff.

My main complaint with the movie, honestly, was the portrayal of the Americans. Not the political side of things, but the actors. The Japanese-American woman was very obviously not American, and the actual American actors seemed to be random guys they pulled off the street, with how poorly they delivered their lines. And please, don't let Japanese actors speak English if they can't actually speak English well enough for native speakers to understand it. It takes away from the scene quite a lot.

Glad I didn't try to go see this in theaters when I first got to Japan, because I would have really missed out on a really good movie without being able to understand most of the dialogue. If you have the chance, definitely check this one out.

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