‘Shin Godzilla’ Battles Politics Against ‘King of Monsters’
After six decades and several dozen features, Godzilla films have been utterly inconsistent for both Japanese and American studios. Domestically, the franchise is still attempting to recover from Roland Emmerich’s 1998 abomination. Adding a bit of insult to injury, Gareth Edwards’ 2014 reboot was more moody than fun. With the ball back in Toho Co. Ltd.’s court, Shin Godzilla puts its spin on the trending reboot crutch.
Shin Godzilla is Toho’s first Godzilla installment since Godzilla: Final Wars back in 2004. And in typical reboot fashion, Shin Godzilla returns back to basics. So no monster adversary such as Mothra or Mecha-Godzilla in this new timeline. This is Godzilla for the very first time and obviously he has his sights set on destroying Tokyo to pieces.
Godzilla is introduced gradually. At the start of Shin Godzilla, the “King of Monsters” attacks an abandoned yacht in the Tokyo Bay before zeroing in on land. Despite being caught on video, there’s plenty of skepticism whether or not this creature actually exists. Fortunately as more evidence pours in, there’s no doubt that it’s Godzilla and he’s on the move.
Shin Godzilla is a unique beast to itself in the Godzilla canon. As an homage to the 1954 Toho film, it is a return to form. Directors Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi (Neon Genesis Evangelion) transform Godzilla into a total badass mode every moment he’s on screen. The downfall to Shin Godzilla sadly, is in its execution. The majority of the film is a handful of generic politicians huddling up with a game plan how to defeat the monster. While Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla missed the mark on its execution, at least that reboot handled its human ensemble slightly better. The bunch in Shin Godzilla are a bunch of disposable talking heads dragged along by political babble. The repetition becomes tiresome after its two-hour run time, which itself could have been chopped down a good 30 minutes.
Shin Godzilla does electrify the screen with it visual magic, however. This iteration of Godzilla is motion-capture, but it’s presented in a way that has you guessing either CGI or rubber suit. And who knows about Godzilla’s first few forms, which appear cuddly than terrifying. Yeah, Godzilla’s going the way of Pokemon and Dragon Ball Z, evolving his form occasionally. But, by the time the ultimate showdown happens between Godzilla and the Japanese forces, it boils down to just one fun destructive field day.
Perhaps that’s a bit too simplistic to put with the allegory of nuclear holocaust ever present. For domestic audiences, Shin Godzilla is more concentrated on the creature feature in play. It’s more about Godzilla going to town. But with its deeply-seeded Japanese roots, audiences overseas will embrace more of the metaphors weaved throughout. The balance of meeting dueling expectations is a bit awkward to pull off. And does it? Not exactly.
Shin Godzilla may please some audiences who haven’t warmed up to the last few American releases. And while as reboot, it’s on the right track to returning the “King of Monsters” accolade back to Godzilla, there’s still a long road of monstrous destruction ahead.