When legendary Japanese film company Toho announced in 2014 that it was going to be making a brand new domestic Godzilla film, I was beyond excited. At that time I was still a relatively new fan of the giant monster from the Land of the Rising Sun, but after seeing (and being a bit disappointed by) the 2014 American version, I was thrilled to see Godzilla come home where he belonged. Through various message boards and news sites I meticulously kept up with the freshly released details surrounding the film. When it was announced that Hideaki Anno (Neon Genesis Evangelion) would pen the screenplay, and that he and Shinji Higuchi (special effects director the amazing Gamera trilogy in the 1990’s) would co-direct, my expectations soared. In the end, I did not find myself disappointed.
The film follows an emergency cabinet assembled of various political figures put together after an accident occurred in Tokyo Bay’s Aqua Line. While trying to deal with the issue, they are taken aback by the appearance of an apparent unknown creature. This creature, eventually named Godzilla, wreaks havoc upon the people of Japan. The government officials and scientists work their fingers to the bone trying to find a way to get rid of the giant radioactive monster. Many methods are mentioned, including having an atom bomb dropped on the creature by the Americans. Eventually the team realizes that Godzilla’s fins and blood work as a cooling system, and a plan is hatched to freeze him from the inside out.
As seems to be the case with most of the films in the Godzilla franchise, reactions to this flick were mixed. There are lots of elements in this movie that set it apart from any of the other 29 movies about Big G. One of the biggest differences is being able to see stages of Godzilla’s evolution. The first time we see the creature he is not the monstrosity we are accustomed to seeing. He goes through several phases of evolution before ending up as the giant monster we all know and love. Another distinguishing feature of this film is the actual look of Godzilla, in his final form. He doesn’t really resemble any of the previous incarnations (what’s up with those tiny hands?!).
Another issue many people had was that there was SO much dialogue. This definitely had more dialogue than any other Godzilla film I have watched. With a cast boasting some of the highest numbers in Japanese cinema, there was no shortage of chatting. The film provided a commentary on the bureaucratic nature of the Japanese government, showing the endless amount of red tape that end up frustrating the protagonists. The American viewer, who may not be privy to the way Japanese government works, might not catch this, rendering most of the discussion vapid.
In my opinion the positives far outweigh the negatives. While the previously mentioned issues made this particular movie look nothing like previous entries, it did not take away from the experience for me. Godzilla is bigger than ever, and is a tremendous terror. When I watch a kaiju movie, I’m not necessarily in it for plot or character development. I want to see a gigantic creature unleashing absolute mayhem. That’s exactly what we get in Shin Godzilla. Godzilla is more like a natural disaster in this movie, and it really works. Godzilla leaves no shortage of carnage in his wake, and it spells doom for all those near him. Can Japan be saved?