The King of the Monsters receives a new Japanese reboot in Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi’s giant monster reboot Shin Godzilla.
Godzilla is one of the most enduring fictional characters ever to be captured on film with over 30 Japanese feature films, two American versions and a number of animated series as well as Marvel Comic Books. The giant lizard is pretty much a household name so it’s surprising that this is the first Toho produced Godzilla film since 2004’s Godzilla: Final Wars.
Shin Godzilla is a complete reboot of the Japanese franchise and takes place in a world that has never encountered giant monsters before. Previous reboots used the 1954 version as a jumping on point while ignoring the sequels but this outing starts everything from scratch.
It starts off pretty well with mysterious goings on off the coast of Japan that turns out to be a giant monster coming to the surface. The reactions are a combination of curiosity and panic as you might expect and the government task themselves with figuring out how to deal with the issue.
The bulk of the film is focused on the various meetings where various experts discuss how to deal with the situation. I suspect the point was to satirise government bureaucracy during crisis situations which is a good idea especially when the crisis involves a city destroying monster but the film doesn’t do anything interest with it. There was some momentum to it once the initial attack happens but the endless meetings start to grate very quickly.
A big problem is the dialogue. It’s just not that interesting and there’s no real sense of character to those involved. There are exceptions to this such as American Envoy Kayoko Anne Patterson (Satomi Ishihara) who has the most personality even if her American accent is less than convincing. A lot of exposition defines her character but she’s one of the few through lines that can be focused on.
For those of us watching this film with the aid of subtitles there’s a lot to keep up with. Speaking as someone who struggles with subtitles there is a lot of reading to do but it rarely gets in the way of the visuals since most of the film takes place in various meeting rooms with very little of visual significance going on. In that respect it isn’t too bad but there’s a tendency for text to almost completely fill the screen. Much of it is fairly useless information as well such as the particular room of the particular building the meeting takes place in as well as the job title of any new arrivals. Very little of it is significant and it just comes across as someone being overzealous with the subtitle equivalent of a label maker.
When the film isn’t focused on seemingly endless meetings there is some city destroying action courtesy of Godzilla. If you’re watching a Toho Godzilla movie then chances are you aren’t looking for visual effects on par with the Gareth Edwards Godzilla film so as long as your expectations are in line with previous entries in the Toho franchise then you’ll get what you’re looking for. Godzilla is a guy in a suit trampling on miniature buildings with CGI enhancements to depict glowing skin and atomic breath. For me the results are mixed. Towards the end the suit looks great as the film manages to evoke a sense of scale and ferocity to the king of the monsters but earlier forms leave a lot to be desired. His first form has really creepy unmoving eyes and looks more comical than menacing for instance. All told the city destruction is well handled and at least suggests a situation that is desperate for those who have to deal with it.
A disappointing entry to the Toho Godzilla canon with too much focus on bland conversations taking place in the form of endless meetings. Few characters have any personality and the sheer amount of text on the screen with much of it highlighting irrelevant information will be jarring for viewers watching the subtitled version. The Godzilla suit is eventually great but underwhelms in the earlier sections though the city destruction is well handled.
We’d love to know your thoughts on this and anything else you might want to talk about. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter or just leave a comment in the comment section below. You’ll need an account for Disqus but it’s easy to set up.
If you want to chat to me directly then I’m on Twitter as well.