It’s no secret that I don’t like the 2014 U.S. remake of Godzilla. In fact, I think it’s one of the most gorgeous heaps of trash I’ve ever seen. Because of this, it was cause for celebration when Toho announced a new Godzilla film of their own. Only, it turned out it was being co-directed by Shinji Higuchi, the man behind the incoherent, disastrous and unwatchable live-action adaptation of “Attack on Titan”. My stomach churned. While we’ve been reporting on the upcoming film, which is stomping its way into U.S. theaters for a limited engagement on October 11–18, I’ve ignored it under the assumption that I was surely going to disappointed. I was sent a screening link yesterday morning, and with expectations at the lowest point possible, I figured “what the hell?”
Having already shared one the first online reviews of Shin Godzilla, I don’t think it’s necessary to pen a proper one of my own. But, having absolutely obliterated Higuchi’s work, and his piece of shit “Attack on Titan” adaptation, I felt the need to reassure everyone that Shin Godzilla is pretty fucking good.
Co-directed by Hideaki Anno (Evangelion), Shin Godzilla is far from perfect, but it’s also a perfectly good time. Spoiler warning. I have never been a huge Godzilla fan, so I can’t speak to the dozens of films in existence, but I really like the approach to Shin Godzilla. Yes, it’s a Japanese remake, and scraps all the previous films from existence. It begins when a giant sea creature (a baby Godzilla?) surfaces and begins swimming through channels around Japan. One of the biggest issues with this film is that it isn’t told through anyone’s eyes, and the characters are all pretty forgettable, but what I did like is the “House of Cards” style politics of the event. Shin Godzilla really hones in on the political and economic ramifications of Godzilla’s presence, while also taking the time to really understand what Godzilla is and how he exists as a biological entity.
It’s interesting that the movie presents itself as a political thriller (with a plethora of scenes featuring people just talking and talking) than an actual Godzilla movie, and surely that will turn a lot of people off, but when Godzilla in on screen it’s pretty great. The puppet/CGI mixture works quite well – in fact, Shin Godzilla carries a sort of 80’s creature feature vibe. From his first form to his fourth, there’s a wonderful realism to the character that we’ve never seen before. Godzilla is also frightening, mostly because he/she doesn’t appear to be a thinking entity, but one acting out of instinct. Godzilla blasts fire out of his mouth, nuclear energy out of his body, and ejects lasers across the sky (taking out space-bound military planes).
I just loved the bold attempt at a fresh perspective, even if it’s too long and has an astoundingly flaccid finale. If anything, it’s a welcome new beginning to the franchise that sets the stage for multiple sequels and has set the stakes enormously high. I think the coolest implication is that, shit, maybe they can crossbreed a sequel with the U.S. producers?
Shin Godzilla is basically Godzilla meets “House of Cards”, and has enough action to appease those who don’t care about a story. In the first of a new series, I think the stage has been set for something enormous to happen next…