Toyko’s in for it again as everyone’s favorite King of the Monsters, Godzilla, has returned to its roots, savaging the Japanese in this new reboot.
This is not the same reboot as we got a few years ago with Gareth Edwards directing. This returns Godzilla, or should I say Gojira, to the style of film from the 1950s. A Japanese speaking romp that sees Godzilla tramping through the Japanese cities.
No sign of Raymond Burr this time though.
Misuse of nuclear waste again leads to the birth of the King of Monsters, as Godzilla comes from the water, onto the land and begins wrecking havoc. Now, there were some interesting differences in Godzilla in this new version. In particular, the film shows Godzilla evolving into the monster we recognize. Godzilla’s first appearance in the film is extremely different and even a bit shocking. I did like how they showed the natural evolution of the creature from one form to another.
And most of the Godzilla scenes were very strong. They looked good and Godzilla also done very well visually. It had a better look than those original Japanese film for sure.
The problem with Shin Godzilla (which actually means Godzilla Resurgence) is the non-monster characters. And there were a ton of them. Each character that appeared on screen got their own little written intro on the screen. That became very distracting as I was already trying to read the subtitles. The film also placed details on the screen every time the film switched locations. So there were writing on the screen dealing with new characters, setting and dialogue, as well as the original Japanese text. To say that the screen sometimes felt crowded would be an understatement.
Anyway, back to the human characters. There were zero characters that had any sort of development and so gave me nobody to root for. And when I have no one to root for in a movie like this, I root for Godzilla. However, this Godzilla was not shown as the heroic and noble beast that we have seen in other iterations. He was meant to be the act of nature in a man vs. nature story. He is the earthquake. He is the erupting volcano. But I still saw him as one of my favorite characters (as well as an EYG Hall of Fame member).
Another issue with the film was the non-Godzilla parts were all about government bureaucracy and how it might respond to this type of attack. That made this very dialogue heavy and, at several times, boring. I will admit that I thought this picked up a bit when the US got involved and was considering using a nuclear strike against Godzilla. That brought up old wounds for the Japanese (considering they had two bombs dropped on them during WWII) and that was a powerful section. There was not enough of that though and I think that could have been extended more. Especially if we had some human characters to root for.
The closest we came was a Japanese-American Kayoko Ann Patterson (Satomi Ishihara) who wanted to be President of the US one day (awwwwwwww, silly girl…). Kayoko was the closest we came to having a character who had more to do than just stare at Godzilla and worry about what was happening.
I came out of this film not sure of what I thought. On one hand, I really liked the Godzilla parts, even the goofy looking first sight of the monster, but I found much of the non-monster parts dull. However, I think I liked a lot of the ideas that those non-monster parts presented. It was very realistic with how a government (including the world around that government) would react to the ravaging monster rampaging through the streets of its biggest city. It showed how things really had to grind out and how the process of a decision could be just as problematic as the monster itself. Still, I wanted more of a hero to cheer for besides Godzilla. There was one scene with rescue workers standing outside of what was once a building and I thought it was going to be some kind of powerful reminder of these kind of tragedies, but it did not go in that direction.
I think the film missed several opportunities to make a really awesome Godzilla film, but what is here has some strength on its own. I am very split on this film.