Taiwanese School: The Experiment of Sergei Eisenstein's Montage Theory is a film featuring Sergei Eisenstein's montage art and revolutionary spirit, 'unification of society' as its theme. ... See full summary »
An unknown accident occurs in Tokyo Bay's Aqua Line, which causes an emergency cabinet to assemble. All of the sudden, a giant creature immediately appears, destroying town after town with its landing reaching the capital. This mysterious giant monster is named "Godzilla".
After waiting for a whole year, I finally got my hands on the award-winning Japanese film "Shin Godzilla", directed by Hideaki Anno (Evangelion) and Shinji Higuchi (live action Attack On Titan). With the praise this film got, did it live up to the hype for me? Yes and to an extent no.
The film is a modern-day remake, showing how would the Japanese government (and to an extent other governments) react if Godzilla showed up for the first time today. This film is one of the more politically-charged entries in the franchise and is more of a thriller than a straight-up monster movie. There are lots of characters, a majority of which don't have much personality, but the main ones like protagonist Rando I found myself latching on to. Some the best scenes are when the characters stop acting like politicians and have casual and occasionally humorous dialogue. At least they took the whole situation very seriously with rarely an over-the-top moment much like the 2014 film, a breath of fresh air within the franchise. There's also this mystery element that plays a huge part in the story which I liked very much. Just as the 1954 film was a metaphor for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, this one reflects the Fukushima meltdown as well as the tsunami and earthquake Japan suffered a few years back (goes to show that Godzilla will always find a way to stay relevant).
How does Big G himself hold up? Pretty good. His design is more-or-less an update of his original 1954 look, his skin looking like radiation scars. New to the series is that Godzilla EVOLVES throughout, starting out smaller and very odd-looking but growing larger, more powerful, and even smarter as the story progresses, making him unpredictable. I also enjoyed the exploration of his biology, that is how this creature could exist. My complaints fall under a few things, strictly on his main form: his arms are too small and he isn't very expressive, mostly just lumbering along in a straight line. When he does gets mad, however, that's when he really shines. The action scenes are entertaining enough and there's plenty of destruction featured with some surprising moments here and there. The special effects are largely CGI with elements of practical effects, both of which are good; Big G isn't a man in a suit this time (kinda disappointing) but rather motion capture with what seems to be a big puppet for a few close-ups on his face as well as a few well-done miniatures. Some sound effects are of the old era and the music is a mix of the original's by Akira Ifukube with some new ones by Shiro Sagisu, a lovely combo.
My favorite scene: The first time Godzilla uses his atomic breath. Set at night with a mournful choir singing in the background (w/ English lyrics), the suspense that builds to the monster unleashing his power and rage upon the world was epic, chilling even, and has tremendous payoff. It's a truly apocalyptic image.
There are a few issues to address. I admit the pacing isn't the best. The beginning particularly has some rapid editing and there are texts on the screen throughout (often naming a character and political position) that are quite distracting and take getting used to, though I suppose you're supposed to feel as rushed as these politicians. Also, there's a huge gap before the climax where there's no action going on that I honestly think the filmmakers should have cut down a little. I like the characters and what's happening to them, but I would have preferred for the film to cut to the chase a bit.
Overall, this movie has its faults for sure, but I'm still glad I saw it. It was an interesting twist to my favorite fictional character. A sequel has been announced, which probably won't come until after 2020 (due to the US films coming out around that time like "Godzilla vs Kong"), and the first ever animated film will come out in Japan in late 2017. Long live the King of the Monsters!
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