I finally saw Shin Godzilla, the new Japanese Godzilla film from Toho Studios. What follows is a review with minor spoilers.
This really is a very different Godzilla film! One could argue that there are many Godzilla films which are different from one another and you would have a valid point. In the case of Shin Godzilla you would have an even greater point for this movie is unlike any that have followed before it. To begin to understand this movie one needs to comprehend that this truly is a Japanese movie made for a Japanese audience to provide both commentary and satire unique to the Japanese culture. Having said that, it doesn’t mean these elements of the film are not beyond the reach of a non-Japanese audience.
If you have heard or read the rumor that this movie has many scenes where people are in government conferences as they debate and discuss what to do when this giant morphing creature threatens Japan. These rumors are true and therein lies the heart of this story which is commentary and satire focused at the government of Japan. If you think Godzilla is the central focus of this movie then you will miss that point and may not walk away with understanding this film. Although commentary and satire toward the Japanese government is the focus that doesn’t mean this movie lacks the proper elements that we Godzilla fans and fans of Kaiju movies.
Therefore, the simple plot of this movie is, after an unexplained creature attacks boats in Tokyo Bay the top government officials focus on military strategy and civilian safety, while Japan’s Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Rando Yaguchi is put in charge of a task force to research the creature. Due to high radiation readings, the creature is theorized to be energized through nuclear fission. The US sends a special envoy, Kayoko Ann Patterson, who reveals that a disgraced zoology professor, Goro Maki, had been studying mutations due to radioactive contamination and theorized the appearance of the creature but the US covered it up. As the creature, The creature, now named Godzilla, reappears, now twice its original size, and makes landfall near Kamakura en route for Tokyo. The Japanese Self Defense Forces are mobilized, but their attacks have no effect on Godzilla and they suffer major casualties. Yaguchi’s team discovers that Godzilla’s fins and blood work as a cooling system, allowing them to theorize that through the use of a coagulating agent, they could trigger a reaction and cause Godzilla to freeze.
Generally in my reviews I offer both the Pros and Cons of a film. For every film whether I enjoyed it or not will have varying degrees of Pros and Cons. In the case of this film, which I thoroughly enjoyed, the Con are not outweighed by the Pros in the first place.
Pro: Great Monster destruction. Isn’t this what most Godzilla and Kaiju fans come to see? Gone are the model miniature sets..which is sad…but in its place is a real world setting and real world destruction with great CGI. Godzilla’s atomic breath just has to be seen and the amount of power and destruction it delivers is the best of the entire franchise in my opinion.
Godzilla’s three forms. I really enjoy the many different designs of Godzilla. While this Godzilla isn’t actually a traditional design it really works for this movie. This is the largest Godzilla ever seen!
Great depiction of scale and Size of Godzilla. Although I have always loved the man-in-the suit approach coupled with model building one never really did get a sense of size and scale in a Godzilla movie…until now. With Godzilla 2014 and Pacific Rim (Godzilla 1998 to some extent) those movie were able to really demonstrate the massive scale and size of the creatures within the movie. Shin Godzilla finally achieves that sense massive scale and size and to me it is awesome!!
An interesting story. Once you understand what the movie is trying to say, it really becomes interesting to watch these government officials stumble and bumble their way through the bureaucracy until they reach a point of action.
Con: An uninteresting story. I will contradict myself. Yes, I do like the story and I understand the commentary on the ineptitude of bureaucracy, however, there are times that it is too much and goes on a little too long.
Lumbering Godzilla…or shall I say… Zombie Godzilla? While I do like this design and despite the epic destruction this Godzilla brings, there are times when all he does is walk… very…very …slowly.
While Shin Godzilla will not go down as my very favorite it is up there in my top 10. Once the DVD/Blu-Ray comes out this film will have many viewings in my home. The destruction scenes alone are worth the price of admission. A very different and still enjoyable Godzilla film!
In Japan this movie was titled Mothra vs Godzilla but in the US it was titled Godzilla vs The Thing. This was the first movie in which Toho began to mix their other monsters into the Godzilla franchise. Mothra had her own successful movie in 1961 and this film was her first of many battles against Godzilla. Mothra is the only one of Toho’s monsters that is definitely female and is regarded as a giant lepidopteran which is a classification of insects which includes both of butterflies and of moths. Mothra does show signs of having features of both butterflies and of moths. Ishirō Honda who directed the original Godzilla movie was back at the helm for this adventure. Akira Takarada, who played in the first Godzilla movie, returns for this outing.
Although not as comical as the previous effort, King Kong vs Godzilla, this movie is, for the most part, still child friendly. With Mothra and the two tiny fairies that accompany her, the film has a more mystical and fantasy feel to it, while still striking a serious tone. Not to say there are not some great destructive moments and vicious monster battles, because they are there. I also must admit that I love the theme song that the twins sing for Mothra. Some of the best destruction by Godzilla is in this movie. He fiercely battles the arm and electrical towers again and we even see a scene where his head is set ablaze!
I won’t go into too much detail about the plot because it is pretty straight forward. After a typhoon washes a giant egg on the shores of Japan, scientists begin studying the egg. News reporter Ichiro Sakai and photographer Junko Nakanishi are reporting the events when a representative from Happy Enterprises, Kumayama, arrives to tell them that his company has just purchased the egg from the local villagers. He abruptly tells the scientists and reporters to leave. Back at his hotel room Kumayama meets with Jiro Torahata, the head of Happy Enterprises, discussing the money they are going to make off of the egg when the two fairies, called the Shobijin, explain to them that the egg belongs to Mothra and once they hatch the larva will cause massive destruction as they search for food.
Torahata and Kumayama ignore the girls’ pleas and try to capture them. The Shobijin escape and flee to Ichiro Sakai and Junko Nakanishi rooms where they plead with them to help get the egg back and to return it to Mothra on Infant Island. Ichiro and Junko are unable to help and the Shobijin return to Infant Island. Meanwhile radiation has appeared at the site with the giant egg and suddenly up from the ground Godzilla emerges and heads for the egg. I guess he must have been hungry. Before Godzilla can settle in for breakfast Mothra appears and fights off Godzilla.
To make a long story short we see a similar plot elements to King Kong vs. Godzilla emerge. Godzilla goes on a rampage and the military cannot defeat him. Those scenes are exciting and some of the best in the series. The idea comes to the military that maybe Mothra can defeat Godzilla. This is a plot element that would be repeated many times in the franchise.
Ichiro and Junko go to Infant Island and pleads with the Shobijin for Mothra’s help. After a while they reluctantly agree and Mothra returns to Japan to fight Godzilla just as he is about to destroy the egg. What does a giant monster have to do to get breakfast anyway?! In the fight that proceeds, Mothra is killed and Godzilla heads for Iwa Island. Shobijin then begin singing their song and the egg hatches and out pops two giant larva. They follow Godzilla to Iwa Island where they proceed to wrap Godzilla in their silken cocoon and he falls into the sea. The End.
Even though this is a child friendly movie it still has a serious tone and Godzilla is still a beast hell-bent on destruction. There is a lot of destruction as I mentioned earlier and bad things happen to the bad guys which I won’t mention, I’ll let you see it for yourself. I have to give you some reason to go rent this film!
The suit for Godzilla was changed once again. It has been said that the suit for this movie was the best and most popular of the early suits. The eyes were darkened and made more malevolent the suit itself was trimmed down a bit and the tail lengthened. The face was rounded from the previous suit to look less reptilian and more mammalian. For me this Godzilla suit, outside the 1954 original suit, is a classic Godzilla design and the best of the Showa Godzilla suits.
All in all a solid and enjoyable entry into the Godzilla franchise. A
Here is a little treat. The Shobijin singing the Mothra’s Song.