Shin Godzilla

Shin Godzilla ★★★★½

I've had this genius idea to make a review series where I tackle Gojira as a film series. Now, I don't plan to review all of them, that would mean around 34 reviews and that's a bit too much. However I do plan to review some highlights. So I've chosen Gojira (1954), Mothra vs Godzilla (1964), Godzilla vs Hedorah (1971), Godzilla (1985), Godzilla vs Biollante (1989), Godzilla vs King Ghidorah (1991), Godzilla vs Destroyah (1995), Godzilla 2000 (1999), Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla (2002), Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003), Godzilla (2014), Shin Gojira (2016) and Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019). I've already reviewed the first Gojira movie a while back so feel free to check that out.

Initially I planned to review them in chronological order but I also wanted to rewatch each movie before a review and I've encountered a few problems grabbing a hold of most of these so as a result I'm saying screw this to order and I'm reviewing them as soon as I get my hands on. So the first reviews will be the newer ones since they're more accessible. This series will feature a smaller review format compared to my usual reviews as I still have a lot of movies to go through and I wouldn't want to repeat myself as many movies from the same period (Showa, Heisei, Millennium, Monsterverse, Reiwa)
I'm starting with Shin however because I want to start on a positive note. Shin Gojira was released in 2016 and was directed by Hideaki Anno of Evangelion. The movie attempts to go back to the roots of what Godzilla was always supposed to be while also adapting it to a modern audience. The plot is meant to be more of a call back to the tsunami disaster from 2011 instead of atomic bombs and critiques the inefficient state of the Japanese government as well as a desire to rise above setbacks and gather more independence as a nation.

Together with the new spin on familiar ideas, the movie gives a new spin on Gojira as a creature, introducing a transformation process as it evolves from water kaiju to semi-aquatic all the way to proper Gojira throughout the movie. And together with the new transformation process come various new powers and abilities to play with.

The movie originally started with a classic approach by incorporating a suit instead of CGI however as development pushed through, a switch was made to CGI instead. However the CGI attempts to recreate the feel of an actual suit which I feel was a correct approach given the lack of budget compared to huge western productions thus allowing the movie to have more weight and power to it instead of having to animate a completely fluid creature.

The soundtrack is magnificent, rivaled only by the original movie, it captures both the tragedy of the human population as well as adding a new spin by making Gojira itself a victim of humanity, in constant pain and suffering instead of the more classic approach as a vengeful monster or protector of world balance / humanity.

Cinematography wise it is very clear and well shot, a lot of the movie taking place during daytime with climaxes and overall important scenes taking place in the cover of the night. The movie wastes no time to set the scale up by incorporating many wide shots and distant panoramas to give the viewer a good look at the scale of the monster and the inability of the Japanese government to properly react to the threat. The movie also employs a new color scheme to work with this new scary designed Gojira by utilizing red and deep purple in contrast with black, reflecting the scarred and burnt aspect of the monster itself while adding a subtle note of power and royalty as the king of the monsters truly deserves.

The CGI is pretty good given the small budget, however a large amount of this movie is still practical, with the more bombastic scenes and the suit being CGI-ed. This gives the movie a good balance, showcasing the best of both worlds without devolving into poor CGI work due to the lower budget or inadequate practical effects again as a result of a lower budget (Godzilla suits are expensive, people! - and VERY dangerous)

The human half of the movie acts as a humorous reenactment of Japanese politics taking place mostly in meeting rooms and back rooms displaying both the slowness of the whole bureaucratic process as well as the frustrations of anyone actually invested into this threat as they're met with walls after walls in their attempt to solve this crisis, slowly losing hope.

Small SPOILER warnings for the next 2 paragraphs

The climax of the movie is one of the best in the series, bringing all the built up tension and anger into a huge shocking explosion. It is here where we are introduced to some of the new destructive toys this new version of Gojira has in its arsenal which will leave many viewers with their mouth agape.

On the other side the actual ending of the movie can be a mixed bag. It does bring everything to a close with an interesting method however it ends with a cliffhanger. And as new information was released, we've come to know that this movie will not be getting a sequel, instead a new series it is planned after 2020. Now, time will tell who is to blame for this situation at the end of Shin Gojira. Was the movie originally supposed to receive a sequel with the studio pulling out at the last minute? or was the movie designed with a cliff hanger to maybe force a sequel following a good overall reception. As new information will come out, this will become clearer but for now the cliff hanger isn't a HUGE problem, like in Far From Home cough cough. Some mental gymnastics could totally be employed to give this movie a proper closure if you feel like you need one.

No more Spoilers

Overall, Shin Gojira is a masterclass of a movie, a strong start for the new Reiwa period of Gojira movies as well as a strong start for this series of reviews. To me this is what Gojira is all about, a devastating force showcased through masterclass effects and good cinematography, all working together to string up a large social commentary on relevant issues together with well written human elements. The movie blends the more comedic satire side perfectly with the horror one. It manages to return Gojira as both a movie and icon back to its horror focused roots instead of the more modern action/comedic side. I would recommend this to fans that abide to the classic formula installed by the first movie back in 1954 and who want some meaning to go with their kaiju action. And for me personally, this movie sits in my top 2 Gojira movies right after Gojira (1954).
I'm glad that I've started this series on a very positive light because next we will take a look at the MonsterVerse side of the coin with Godzilla 2014 and Godzilla King of the Monsters

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