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Shin Gojira (2016)
Politics take top billing as Godzilla ruins Tokyo
The "man vs nature" theme which dominates so many Godzilla films is absent in Toho's 2016 film. This time, Japan's post-war political structure (in the context of national defense) is as much an obstacle as the monster itself.
What begins as an unexplained disturbance in a bay quickly turns into disaster as the monster makes landfall and starts wreaking havoc as it wanders Japan aimlessly. Experts are baffled. The political leadership is two steps behind, first trying to figure out what to do and then, who needs to grant permission to get it done. This impotence is magnified when the scale of Godzilla's destruction grows and other countries (especially the USA but also Russia and China) begin to take notice.
The Japanese Self-Defense forces fail to halt the monster's rambling progress, but the situation quickly becomes a doomsday scenario when American bombers damage Godzilla, provoking an extreme reaction from the creature which annihilates the recently-evacuated city.
After this, Godzilla enters a kind of stasis as it recharges its energy. What remains of the government then scrambles to come up with a plan to kill the creature before it reawakens and the UN allows the deployment of nuclear weapons.
Not only are the Japanese fighting for their lives, but also for their own sovereignty as the UN and the USA demand oversight. Patriotism wins out and the heroes use a non-nuclear solution to defeat the monster. The "unilateralists" are vindicated and Japan's future as something other than a vassal state to the US/UN seems like a sure thing.
But what does any of this have to do with Godzilla? It becomes obvious about halfway through the film that he is not so much the subject of the film as he is a canvas on which to display a particular painting. Toho doesn't often do this with their Godzilla films - Godzilla 1984, Godzilla vs King Ghidorah, and GMK are the only G films in the last 30 years with such an overt political message.
Overall, the brand new Godzilla look satisfies as the monster delivers the awesome destruction that we expect to see - however, the way politics permeate the film could harm it in ways that have left its predecessors unscathed.