And now for a Godzilla film that’s actually good.
Shin Godzilla seems to be making a point to be as completely different from past Godzilla films as possible. I mean, look at Godzilla. He looks like he was birthed from the fiery maw of the Diablo. Everything about him is designed to be terrifying and sometimes disturbing. I was surprised by how much it succeeded.
Another difference from past Godzilla movies is that there is no real main character. There are characters that we recognize, sure. For the most part, though, this movie seems to be focused more on exploring “how would the Japanese government react if a giant monster attacked Tokyo,” than exploring characters.
The first half of any Godzilla movie tends to be a slog mainly because they spend so much time introducing characters and plot lines when the audience mainly wants to see Godzilla destroy everything in site. I found myself transfixed by the first half of the movie however, mainly in a “is this really happening” sort of way. Am I really watching a board room meeting about how to deal with Godzilla? A board room meeting with twenty-some people and I don’t know any of their names? Though I should say that by the second half of the movie, characters start becoming recognizable and it starts being more about them over the bureaucracy.
The editing in the film was enough to keep things interesting for me, though. Having seen Neon Genesis Evangelion (and also wondered what the heck I just watched), I was surprised at how much of Hideaki Anno’s style I saw in Shin Godzilla. Extremely fast cuts with some shots only lasting a few frames makes some scenes impressionistic. Fast and out of context shots of a monster moving through a city that left me wondering if I was indeed watching a Godzilla movie or if I accidentally put on another monster movie by accident.
So if there aren’t any characters to pay attention to, and no plotlines to follow, what else is there? Well, Godzilla. This movie seems to be all about showing off a brand new type of Godzilla, one that hadn’t been done before. The color of Godzilla is different, the way the mouth opens and the way it breathes its atomic breath is all different than what has been done before. I was starting to wonder if Godzilla would sprout wings.
I actually enjoyed it. It was like breathing new life into a character. Doing something a little different because the series had started to get a little stale. It’s disappointing to hear that Toho can’t release a sequel to this film until after 2020 per an agreement with Legendary, but Shin Godzilla is definitely a movie that could stand on its own as one of the first times I’ve ever been terrified of Godzilla.
Plus, it’s way better than Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters.