I really enjoy putting my reviews together. I honestly wish I could delve deeper into certain movies, but alas, I get incredibly busy and can sometimes only deal with movies to a briefer extent than I would prefer. This is why I write these occasional "Brief Thoughts" posts on movies I have seen, as I want to at least offer some of my own perspective on them. They may not be as polished, but I can at least get my opinions out there. The following "Brief Thoughts" focuses on the 29th Toho produced Godzilla film - Shin Godzilla.
Shin Godzilla: 4 out of 5
I am a Godzilla fan. The 2014 Godzilla from Rogue One director Gareth Edwards opened my eyes up to just how big of a Godzilla fan I was, as I realized just how much knowledge about the 60+ year franchise I held. Well, following that film (which I still very much enjoy), we now have Shin Godzilla, the latest incarnation from the original studio, Toho, which serves as a new reboot (the third for the franchise) for the King of the Monsters.
Set in modern day Japan, Shin Godzilla plays out like a fairly standard Godzilla movie, with emphasis on all the political turmoil that a government faces when dealing with a giant monster rampaging through the country. As is true of most of the best Godzilla movies, the film finds a way to combine the main points of a giant monster movie with a layer of social commentary and understandable parables by way of larger than life metaphors.
As many know, 1954's original Godzilla was a metaphor for the nuclear bomb. Other Godzilla films move in and out of how overtly they feel the need make some sort of allusion to particular topics, but Shin Godzilla is most certainly commenting on Japan's role in the world and specifically referencing the 3/11 earthquake and the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The effort to make this clear is not subtle, but it does allow for a suitable amount of time spent in boardrooms and watching various advisers and representatives debate just how important certain strategies are and what kind of jurisdiction these various VIPs have over the situation.
For whatever reason, many who complained about the lack of much Godzilla in the recent American film seem to forget that there is not typically much Godzilla in these movies. Instead, you have some key action sequences scattered among all the other scenes focused on politicians and scientists talking things out (and sometimes wacky mythology elements or random kids involved in a side story). Toho Pictures is certainly aware of how their Godzilla movies work and they deliver what is expected - some terrific scenes of Godzilla in action mixed with lots of government-based scenes that feature a lot of very wry Japanese humor.
While not an out-and-out comedic satire (what I would give to see this screenplay get a pass by the folks who write for HBO's Veep), there is a good amount of dry humor that runs through the dialogue, in addition to a running subtitle joke focused on the growing official title names that the various politicians have in discussing their roles in containing the Godzilla threat. Directors Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi (both known for anime adaptations) have a good visual eye on both the Kaiju action as well as keeping things moving inside the offices, which is quite welcome.
But let's get to Godzilla. Working with a fresh design that is practical (for the most part), bigger than 2014's beast and very similar in look to the 1954 creature (after it evolves - awesome!), this latest take on Japan's biggest movie star is a towering threat that delivers what you'd hope for when it comes to this kind of monster. While not a film relying on other monsters for Godzilla to fight, there is plenty of satisfaction in the amount of destruction we see, which includes a spin on the beast's classic atomic breath. Few creatures can allow for an audience to cheer when it rains down destruction, but Godzilla continually manages to deliver in some really satisfying ways captured well in this new feature.
At two hours, the film is a bit long and not helped by some of the actors who are required to deliver English passages in an attempt to comment on America's role in this type of situation, but that doesn't stop the vast amount of entertainment found in this latest Godzilla flick. Sadly, the film only received a one-week engagement in America (which I happily took my girlfriend and my Dad - for his birthday - to), as the film benefits from a big screen and audience, but any fan of classic Godzilla movies should feel right at home with this latest entry.