Shin Godzilla

Shin Godzilla ★★★★

78% - Very Good -> Godzilla Universe Ranking (#2/39)

After the greatness of the original, Godzilla films have mostly worked for me as entertaining B-movies with some weaker and sillier elements that I tend to overlook. This is the first film since 1954 to make a genuine attempt at something greater and for the most part it succeeds.

This is a completely different version of Godzilla and arguably the most realistic and terrifying take on the giant monster. We see him evolve throughout the movie and even though his initial form is a bit funny-looking with its giant fish eyes, there’s something tragic about this version where he just seems like a suffering animal, confused by everything that’s being done to him and evolving in response to these military attacks. As he approaches his final forms, he starts to look more like the Godzilla we know and love, but there’s a horrific rawness to his appearance that reminds us that this is not our friendly neighborhood kaiju. Things get really awesome once he unleashes his reinvented atomic breath in what is arguably the coolest Godzilla action of the entire franchise. He’s truly established as a force of nature and the impressive effects along with the fantastic score really help elevate these scenes of destruction. The movie ends in a haunting final shot of Godzilla’s tail which strikes a whole other conversation in it of itself.

While all the Godzilla stuff is great, it’s only a small portion of the film; the vast majority consists of political figures in board meetings. A lot was being thrown at me at once and I eventually became overwhelmed by the vast number of characters being introduced and the non stop political dialogue. I found it boring in the moment but there were definitely some conversations and imagery that made it clear this movie was going for something deeper. After doing a bit of research, I’ve come to realize there’s a lot of symbolism, satire, and metaphor I totally missed... probably because they are topics that resonate directly with Japan as a nation and the issues it has faced in recent years. In many ways, Shin Godzilla comes closest to the original due to its resonance with the people of its country. I’ll have to rewatch it to catch all the stuff I missed but as it stands now, this is my second favorite Godzilla movie and is legitimately just a very good film.

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