Directed by: Hideaki Anno, Shinji Higuchi Writer: Hideaki Anno
Written By: Hideaki Anno
Running Time: 120 Minutes
*Godzilla is currently in limited release across North America. It’s run was recently extended beyond the initial two weeks*
“A special Saturday matinee screening of the film will take place on October 22 in more than 200 theaters across the U.S. and Canada. In addition, multiple national theater chains will be offering daily screenings of “SHIN GODZILLA” in select locations thru October 27”
If you’re lucky, there is still time to go see this film in theatres. Funimation’s limited release of the film has been a tremendous success in North America and I hope you’re as lucky as I was to see the film with such an active, responsive audience. It’s the kind of thing that elevates any movie but the inherent bigness of Godzilla makes for a spectacular viewing experience. Co-Directed by Hideaki Anno and, Shinji Higuchi, Shin Godzilla is a relaunch of the classic character, wiping away the previous canon of Godzilla up to ‘Godzilla: FINAL WARS’.
This is modern day Japan’s very first run in with the King of Monsters. The movie wastes precious little time before his entrance causing dammage to the Tokyo Bay aquaduct. This may be a welcome relief to audiences who were frustrated by Gareth Edward’s 2014 ‘Godzilla’ which opted to obscure the creature for a majority of the running time.
The film quickly shifts to the chambers of parliament where the Prime Minister is briefed on the initial damage. The movie takes this opportunity to introduce the PM’s cabinet, a barrage of names, ranks, and titles among them, our protagonist, Rando Yaguchi. They have precious moments of speculation before their concept of reality comes crashing down. Attempts to reassure the population in undermined immediately by the creature’s ability to make land. The film has an energetic pacing to these scenes to keep things moving – reportedly being influenced by the urgency of The Social Network’s rapid-fire dialogue – it goes a long way in making the humour land. The government is a constant depicted as arbitrary and ineffective, with characters griping about the red tape.
It may come as a surprise that in updating the scenario for modern Japan, the film alters Godzilla origin and biology. He’s shown to a be constantly changing and is portrayed in three forms throughout. His first appearance is a rather bizarre creature shuffling through the waterways of districts. He’s not fully formed. It’s easy to laugh at the sight of this thing shuffling around in broad daylight, even when it evolves into a more upright second form. This may be an intentional misdirection for when the Godzilla assumes his familiar form, albeit with eerie blood red accents and jagged teeth.
Shin Godzilla not only returns Godzilla to his original status as a villain, but returns a sense of danger and mystery which are crucial elements and something stripped away across his long history of fighting other, one-dimensionally evil opponents. This is a film firmly rooted in the original’s thematic concerns of nature’s wrath carried out by Godzilla, a force of nature beyond the means of humanities destructive capabilities. In the film’s best sequence by far, Godzilla unleashes his awesome destructive capabilities. The film takes a great deal of time building up to this moment; it’s what fans expect of these films, and co-director Anno, who has tread similar ground with his Evangelion series, allowing him to play to his strengths. It’s the kind of cinematic grandeur only Godzilla is capable of.
It’s also a Godzilla movie only Japan can deliver. Godzilla has always been a conduit for addressing and confronting Japan’s concern with nuclear energy and the mishandling of it. The allusions to the 2011 tsunami earthquakes and resulting Fukushima Daiichi disaster are a crucial element to this film, up to its conclusion, which offers little beyond unease at the idea that such an awesome force can be indefinitely contained.