In the cinematic landscape, you’ll find that some studios have spawned sequels after making a critically acclaimed or a financially successful movie. Some reasons might be because they want to add more context to the lore or narrative within a film’s universe, accumulate large amounts of money at the box-office, or for a multitude of other reasons that we may or may not know. Some movie franchises that might instantly come to mind to many movie-goers are Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, James Bond, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and so many of others as well. For those that are fond of Japanese cinema, arguably the most iconic and well-known franchise is Godzilla, which has 31 movies to date, 29 of those produced by Toho. For today’s movie review, I’ll be talking about the most recent iteration in the series, Shin Godzilla (or Godzilla Resurgence).
Schilling, Mark. ‘Shin Godzilla’: The Metaphorical Monster Returns. Digital image. Japan Times. The Japan Times LTD., 3 Aug. 2016. Web. 15 Oct. 2016.
This latest adaptation is the first Godzilla film produced by Toho Studios in 12 years, and it is directed by Hideaki Anno, who’s famous for creating the landmark anime, Neon Genesis Evangelion. For those that are not familiar with the franchise, Godzilla is a colossal reptilian creature that wreaks impalpable havoc and destruction upon pretty much anything within his vicinity; it’s the kind of thing that you’d normally find in a fever dream or your very worst nightmare. In most movies, I’d make a point to talk about how well (or how poor) the cast did when it comes to acting. And while the performances overall in this movie were really good for the most part, I feel like this aspect of the movie wasn’t pronounced that much since the characters throughout the duration of the film had fairly little individual exposition. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing since Shin Godzilla places a heavy emphasis on the all-encompassing sense of fear brought on by a threat to the entire human race rather than just focusing in on a couple of individuals.
One thing that might turn off some viewers going into this movie (which I didn’t necessarily have a problem with) is that it is incredibly dialogue-heavy with very few moments of brevity in terms of pacing, be prepared to be bombarded with subtitles. If you are expecting non-stop action from beginning to end, this isn’t the movie for you. Most of the screen time is spent showing biologists, scientists, and political figures in suits and sitting in collaborative office meetings. They spend their precious time intently discussing plans on how to take down this menacing creature. While it might seem like random jargon to fill up the runtime of the movie, I feel like these segments were necessary and did have substantial meaning behind them. I can’t say this definitively since I’ve never lived in Japan (nor am I well-versed in governmental bureaucracy), but I think that these scenes were an example of political satire and a scathing commentary on how Japanese politicians handle internal and foreign affairs, and the usage of nuclear power plants. Even though these people did talk a lot, they were very dysfunctional and rarely appeared to be on the same page with one another; some were just pontificating for their own personal gain.
Cabin, Chris. New ‘Godzilla Resurgence’ Trailer Finds Everyone’s Favorite Monster Returning to Japan. Digital image. Collider. N.p., 19 July 2016. Web. 15 Oct. 2016.
On another note, I interpreted this adaptation of Godzilla as an allusion towards the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings of 1945. Throughout the movie, the director explores the ugliness and morally disconcerting nature of nuclear warfare. The atrocities that Japan had to experience at that moment in time still haunts a lot of people in Japan to this day, and serves as a reminder that war can potentially lead to more friction rather than peace and unity. I also viewed this film as an allegory of how humans are continuously stripping Earth of its natural resources, and unfortunately poisoning the planet as well. In this Godzilla, the monster was created due to people carelessly dumping nuclear waste into the ocean waters without even thinking about the dire consequences. So in a sense, they pretty much have no one else to blame; they brought this calamity upon themselves.
As for the visuals, I think that this movie is absolutely a marvel to behold. What I really admire about Hideaki Anno’s interpretation of Godzilla (and even Gareth Edwards adaptation to some extent) compared to all of the prior movies of the franchise, is how convincingly terrifying the giant creature looks. In Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla, the CGI was poorly utilized and ended up making a lot of the scenes come off as unintentionally funny, and in previous installments by Toho, which had actors in suits playing as the giant reptile beast, Godzilla literally looked like some cheaply made lizard action-figure dawdling around; it struck tantalizing fear in my eyes as an impressionable child, but looks pretty crummy nowadays as technology in film-making has evolved over time. But in Shin Godzilla, I think it truly portrays how Godzilla was meant to symbolize: a grotesque monstrosity and an accumulation of all our transgressions to the environment. The terrifying creation of man’s unsustainable lust for power and prestige.
Picard, Chris. BREAKING! Unbelievable Shin-Gojira Godzilla: Resurgence Trailer Released! Godzilla’s New Look Completely Revealed! Digital image. Scified. N.p., 13 Apr. 2016. Web. 15 Oct. 2016.
Another aspect of this movie that I want to discuss about with you guys is the soundtrack. If you adored the musical compositions within the previous Toho installments, you are in for a wonderful treat. Some iconic songs that played in a couple of other Godzilla movies are used in Shin Godzilla, such as “Godzilla Resurrection“, which was in King Kong vs. Godzilla, and “Godzilla Appears“, which originated from Terror of Mechagodzilla. Also, if you’re a fan of Neon Genesis Evangelion, you’ll instantly recognize this theme. While the inclusion of putting in music from the past might come off as lazy to some people, I think that it’s a nice homage to long-time fans of Godzilla and Hideaki Anno.
Whether you are new to Godzilla, or have been following this revered series for many years, this is a movie that I’d absolutely recommend without any hesitation. Shin Godzilla is not your typical run-of-the-mill action/destruction flick or just mindless eye-candy for momentary entertainment. It provides a cautionary message of possible scenarios that actually might come to fruition if we continue to rely on warfare to solve our problems, and the long-lasting repercussions that will ensue if we don’t take care of our planet’s fragile ecosystem.
If you’ve seen Shin Godzilla, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it as well. Thanks for stopping by. Stay fresh!