Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Shin Godzilla (2016)

I don't have too much knowledge of kaiju movies. In fact, I have seen so few of them that it is, at this point, frankly embarrassing. For a long, long time the only films I had seen with "Big G" in them were Godzilla (1954) and, ummmm, Godzilla (1998). I eventually saw King Kong Vs. Godzilla (1962), but then it was back to the American blockbuster versions, when I saw both Godzilla (2014) and Godzilla: King Of The Monsters (2019). The American attempts to capture the essence of the monster have yet to nail it. Each one has good individual moments (yes, even that Emmerich mess), but none of them get everything right. I've seen a FEW more now, still not enough to allow me to show my face alongside any proper fans, but my love for Godzilla is growing, and one day I hope to have seen many more movies starring him, or his colleagues.

Shin Godzilla is probably not one that many would pick to watch ahead of many others. Never mind, I'd heard good things, although I had also heard some criticism. I would give it a go, even if I still had decades of more traditional entries to get to.

It's pretty fantastic. It's also a strange mix of the stuff you love about Godzilla movies and a more grounded look at how people would respond to the destruction. A strange creature comes out of the sea and starts moving across Japan. It's Godzilla, even if it doesn't initially look like him. Causing a lot of unintentional destruction and chaos, the authorities have to find a way to best respond. They seriously underestimate the strength of the creature, and his ability to retaliate, and things start to get worse while the brains try to think of a more successful strategy.

Co-directed by Hideaki Anno (who also wrote the script) and Shinji Higuchi, Shin Godzilla brings the most famous kaiju crashing into a more believable real world than any of his other movie outings. While this may seem like a recipe for something horribly dull and uncharacteristic for the long-running franchise, and I have seen some complain about that, it ends up being a smart move, juxtaposing some spectacular scenes of destruction with moments that show puny humans completely at a loss when considering how to minimise the devastation.

Despite the large cast assembled, including Hiroki Hasegawa, Yutaka Takenouchi, Satomi Ishihara, and Ren Osugi, and despite the scenes in which people weigh up risks and discuss the economy of dealing with their huge problem, this is still very much a Godzilla movie. It may not feel that way in the early scenes, with a creation that is comical in appearance before starting to evolve into a more familiar incarnation, but that is the beauty of it. This is, both literally and cinematically, a Godzilla many times evolved from that very first outing back in 1954, but no less respected, no less powerful, and no less important to the country that allowed the rest of the world to also look up and admire him.

Any recommendation of this obviously comes with some reservations, and those who dislike it will probably REALLY dislike it, but I thought this was absolutely brilliant. It's fascinating because of the different spin on things, and then it still remembers to deliver some epic moments of kaiju power. I may even end up watching it again before I mark more of the others off my list.


You can buy the movie here.
Americans can buy it here.
Or feel free to click a link and buy anything else instead. I don't care, as long as someone clicks something and I can get some pennies without it costing anyone else a thing (apart from their standard movie shopping budget).
And you MAY also enjoy this set, of course.

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