Shin Godzilla

The God Incarnate is Back


Shin Godzilla (or Godzilla: Resurgence) can best be described as a post modern reboot. That is, it re-tells the first time the Japanese government and people encounter Godzilla, but the filmmakers are aware that you have definitely heard of Godzilla before so it chooses to forgo any elaborate back story of the creature, of the characters, or of the world Godzilla is in, and hops right to the task of making a well scripted, well directed, dialouge driven, suspenseful monster masterpiece

If I had to give the movie a genre outside of a kaiju flick, Shin Godzilla is a political thriller disaster movie. The story's pov is from that of the Japanese government, and focuses on them trying to figure out what is going on, how to handle the situation, and how to do so on their own terms before foreign powers decide for them. While there is arguably a central character, that being Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Rando Yaguchi, the film plays like an oldschool disaster movie. That means an ensemble cast of literally dozens (and I mean dozens) of named characters: secretaries, ministers, military officers, reporters, biologists, etc, who all are central to the plot and pacing. None of the character get or need an elaborate back stories, or flash backs, or anything like that, Yaguchi included. The movie is dead-set in the present; anything you need to know about the characters can be ascertained through their dialogue, which there is plenty of, and mannerisms, and while you may forget specific names just by the sheer number of them, you won't mix up which character is which. Better yet, the film doesn't make any of the human characters and arbitrary villain. Characters disagree with each other, want do do things in the way that they see fit, but all their decisions and mannerisms have a logic that make sense to them as characters and in the scope of the movie, and ultimately the characters are all working together to stop the 120 meter monster stomping through Japan.

Speaking of the monster, Anno and Higuchi (both of Neon Genesis Evangelion fame) make Godzilla a truly monstrous being. This isn't like the 2014 American remake or the Toho films of the previous 2 decades, where Godzilla fights the bad monsters and leaves the nice people alone. Godzilla is this grotesque monster, starting off as a lung fish looking monstrosity, crawl on all fours, before evolving in into the Godzilla movie goes are familiar with. The fact that Godzilla evolves multiple times in the film is a great adition as it allows the film to hold the audience in suspense, as they don't know what Godzilla is capable of, much like the characters in the film. Interestingly enough, Anno, who wrote the screenplay, chose not to give Godzilla a clear goal in the film and I think to the point of the film, it doesn't matter. Godzilla is a big monster with unknown capabilities, causing (maybe unintentional) havoc in Japan and the Japanese government must work together, over come pettiness and bueracracy, and hold off foreign intervention to take it down the best way they can. And while the film is dialogue heavy, when Godzilla is causing destrcution, they dont hold back. The old music kicks (yes they use the original theme, old sound quality and all) and the film reverts to the old destruction sound effects and screeches, and it is awesome. Perfect mix of moving forward and respect for the classic

If someone described Shin Godzilla to me before I saw, I may have had some doubts. A Sorkin-esque political monster film with an ensemble cast of dozens of characters? I would have said it was impossible. But Anno and Higuchi pull it off with flying colors, for one of the best Godzilla movies in decades, and one of the best genre films in years.

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