A while back the Movie Night gang watched every live-action Godzilla movie (I have to specify that because of those three CG Netflix ones). That’s 32 movies, by the way, so this took some time. And it turns out, a lot of them are just… fine. They’re fine. There are some really bad ones (fuck you, Gabara) and some really good ones (you can stay, Biollante), but most are just okay. Shin Godzilla, however, is one of the really good ones.
Just about every Godzilla movie focuses more on the humans than the giant monsters, and Shin Godzilla really leans into this. The Japanese government responds slowly to a mysterious incident off the coast which turns out to be a misshapen monster that crawls onto land. It evolves to be bipedal before everyone’s eyes, and then retreats back to the water before any military solution can be taken. Since the experts were no help, a group of political misfits are tasked with figuring out what this Gojira creature is and how to stop it. It eventually returns, bigger and more monstrous. Military ordinance has no effect, and when fighter jets attack, Gojira responds with a truly terrifying display of lasers. However, this display of force sends the kaiju into a sort of hibernation. The research team discovers a missing professor’s notes that leads to a potential method of neutralizing Gojira. But the United States is prepared to drop a nuke on the beast, something Japan as a whole dreads. Political maneuvering ensues, and the team is able to enact their plan to neutralize the nuclear reactor inside Gojira. Some rampant Tokyo destruction later, the beast is frozen and the day is saved! But if it ever moves again, the US will nuke it in a heartbeat. And there are strange, humanlike creatures budding off its tail…
The decision to focus so heavily on the Japanese government and their response is a controversial one, but it makes far more sense to follow the bureaucratic arguments of whose department Gojira falls under than some random scientist who happens to have all the answers by himself. And the movie makes up for it with Gojira’s destruction of Tokyo with lazers just about everywhere. Movie Night was dead silent during this sequence, stunned at the new power, the destruction that ensued, and how awesome the scene was. The movie was written and directed by Hideaki Anno, the man behind the madness that is Neon Genesis Evangelion, so we went in with high hopes, and this fresh take was just what we wanted (every other Japanese Godzilla movie–even after a reboot–is a sequel to 1954’s Gojira, making this complete reboot something of an oddity). It’s just such a shame that the rights to Godzilla seem to be given to one country at a time and now it’s America’s turn to make Godzilla movies, so we’ll never get a sequel to this… Hm? What’s that? Shin Ultraman is slated to come out in 2021? Well… hot damn.
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