Hey everyone, back again with another review. This time, we’re looking at a film I’ve been waiting to see for a while now, and finally got the chance to do so. This week we’re talking Shin Godzilla, the latest installment of the long-running franchise from Toho Studios. This is in fact the twenty-ninth film they’ve made for the big guy, and the thirty-first overall. As usual no spoilers ahead.
This was a fairly highly anticipated in our house. Any new kaiju movie is, to be honest, but Godzilla… Godzilla is top of that list. Unfortunately, there wasn’t an opportunity for us to see this film in its limited North American theatrical run, as the closest place it was showing was four hours away and we couldn’t make it work. So we’ve waited for home release and now we’ve finally gotten to see it. I was surprised to see our version was a dub, also, and not subtitled. And…. I don’t know if it was worth the wait.
Let’s get something out of the way here; this isn’t a terrible movie. There are some interesting ideas presented and satirized, mainly to do with the ponderousness of the bureaucratic system and how it can be as much of a hindrance as a help in an unusual and emergency situation. They really hammer that point home, too. There is a lot of politics and maneuvering and people in suits yelling about needing to make decisions.
And that would be a really fascinating study if the story had let you have the time to digest it. This movie flies along at an insane pace. It’s literally boom, boom, boom, with no time to let the previous point sink in before rushing off to the next thing. I’m not entirely sure why the plot needs to rush along so quickly, it’s in such a hurry to get to the end it doesn’t even stop for breath. It was honestly hard to take notes because taking time to write even quick notes made me feel like I was behind.
I’m not really sure how to talk about the acting. The Japanese actors seemed to be good physically in their acting. The voice dub actors were fine, I mean some were better than others but it was overall good. I wouldn’t mind, if I wanted to watch this again, seeing the Japanese version to compare the two.
The music was interesting, to say the least. They used the original Gojira theme, which was kind of nice to hear. Not that I think this Godzilla deserved it, but we’ll get into that later. That wasn’t the only re-used track, and in fact there were a number of musical callbacks to earlier films in the Toho universe. There were also a couple of parts where the music cue shifted quite abruptly into a more rock-guitar thing and seemed really out of place. It sounds pretty cool just listening to it by itself, but it was such a weird tonal shift in the film and quite jarring.
One thing I actually really liked was the camera work. There were some very inventive shots especially when the army was called out and the tanks were moving into position. I thought that was really well done. It was shot very much like one would expect a Godzilla movie to look otherwise, but I really liked what they did. There were also a few with characters using laptops and a phone that were done in a way I hadn’t seen before and was impressed by.
Okay, last but not least, let’s talk about the big guy himself. This was a reboot movie, and as such Godzilla got a massive redesign that while still looking like him, was quite different from what we’ve seen. Not to get into spoilers, but he had more than one look in the film. I’ll be honest, I hated the way Godzilla looked. From the first trailer I thought he looked terrible and that hasn’t changed. He looks more like a zombie version of himself; like a burned, twisted, undead creature.
I’m not a fan at all, but his final, Godzilla-proper look is miles better than how he looks when he first comes ashore, which is my absolute least favorite.
I’m not sure I like the atomic breath either, it honestly was more like a laser and, without spoilers, went a little too… crazy at times. It felt like they just overdid it. It looked like the arcane enchanted baddies from Diablo III.
I feel like I may have been harder on this movie than I should have been just because Goji looked so damn bad. I get that they were going for something different but the tiny, unblinking eyes and the big, derpy, muppet mouth just didn’t do it for me.
It also seems kind of petty that they made Shin exactly 10.5 meters taller than Legendary’s 2014 Godzilla, as if they had to one-up it. The CG was really inconsistent too, and it’s a good thing they used more than one method to bring Godzilla to life because sometimes it was downright bad. Because this is a reboot he also got a new, updated backstory. I’m not sure I like it, as it changes the symbolism and metaphor of Godzilla to something more updated. I get they wanted to do something different with him and a modern retelling of Godzilla’s origin would have to be something different, but it really feels like they’re fixing something that isn’t broken. He did have a really good roar, at least. According to my more knowledgeable other half, his roars were mainly from the Showa era (encompassing 1954’s Gojira up to 1975’s Terror of Mechagodzilla) except for the last roar which comes from the Heisei era (which began with 1984’s Return of Godzilla and ended with 1995’s Godzilla vs. Destoroyah). There’s also that last shot, which all I’ll say is I don’t like the implications of.
So, in conclusion, I wasn’t crazy about this one. It’s not the worst movie I’ve ever seen, but I wasn’t really feeling it either. This is a really polarizing movie as well; lots of people loved it and lots of people hated it. Well, outside of Japan at least, Shin Goji got glowing reviews in his homeland. If you’re a kaiju or a Godzilla fan, I’d leave it up to you to make up your own mind on it. Not a fan? I’d skip it because you’d probably find it boring. At least Toho’s next feature, Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters/Godzilla: Monster Planet looks really intriguing, and I like the idea of seeing the big guy in animated form for something different.