After retiring the giant monster back in 2004 and after an American version in 2014, Toho decided to bring Godzilla back, but did so inspired by recent events among other things. It was a smart move on their part as the film was highly compelling, demanding your attention from the very first. Unlike previous movies that followed the standard formula featuring a leading man, love interest and so forth, this one did not, instead featuring a large collection of actors with few getting more screen-time than any other. If anyone can be called the star of this film, it was Godzilla himself, visual effects man Shinji Higuchi or even more so, director/writer Hideaki Anno for bringing the creature back to the big screen.
With the tsunamis and the nuclear disasters that happened of late in Japan and the resulting fallout to the area, it made perfect fodder for the film, especially the role of government which permeated it more than anything else. Just like that disaster where the government was seen to respond far too slowly to the danger of it all, so too is that shown within once Godzilla hits land for the first time. It is here that some of the movie’s brilliance really shines through as we see all the various levels of government and how they work. The least that can be said is that there is a lot of bureaucracy and in the end you find yourself a little sympathetic towards them. All of them from the top down are cogs in a machine and they all play their part, doing the best that they can. When one of those cogs is out of place as shown later on in the movie, bad things happen. In this picture, that just so happens to be a gigantic, radioactive killing machine. It also tends to lend a lot of suspense and a lot of tension to the film because events keep going forward while their responses are only as fast as they are.
One of the better things about the picture are the special effects, specifically Toho’s insistence to continue their use of a man in a rubber suit as opposed to computer generated ones. It hearkens back to the very first Gojira film and plays upon the nostalgia factor for many fans. In some respects, it can also be called the weakest part of the movie as modern audiences might wonder why Toho is using such outdated ‘technology.’ One only has to look at the American Godzilla to see what is possible, but therein it also loses a bit of its charm. When you compare the ridiculous looking slug-like costume that Godzilla starts off as in this film, which was so corny as to be quite a lot of fun, to the sheer majesty of the digital monster seen in the 2014 version, some might say there is no comparison. A case can be made for both of course, but when it comes right down to it, there is something to be said for tradition. The monster in this picture also features an updated look with red now being a primary colour of its being, not to mention a fearsome new power which also happens to be its greatest weakness.
One thing that cannot be denied about Shin Godzilla is just how exciting it is. From the moment those opening credits roll with the Toho emblem to the ruins and destruction amidst the defeated monster at the end, the movie has you on the edge of your seat for the bulk of it. The direction was tight and the cinematography breathtaking at times while the special effects, most especially during the intense action scenes, truly made the film feel like the blockbuster it was. Across the board, the acting was solid and you have to wonder if any of them will return for the eventual sequel because you have to know that nobody can keep Godzilla down for long. Also known as Godzilla Resurgence in some markets, it is a bold new start to one of the longest running franchises in film history.
5 out of 5