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".
German company Splendid Films made news as the first foreign distributor to obtain rights for the movie in April 2016, since Germany is one of the few western countries where Godzilla films have a fanbase. Despite this, the movie stalled for a long time and was only released in Germany over a year later, in May 2017. See more »
Godzilla's color changes slightly throughout his first attack. See more »
I'm clearly missing something here. I watched this feckless waste of time in a crowded theater amid rabid fans and uproarious applause. I stayed composed as the stiff clumsiness of the titular monster mimicked the same directionless ambling of the script and editing. I twiddled my thumbs as audience member after audience member laid down a periodic blaze of pompous commentary. After two-hours, I slinked away, drove home, had a beer, took a shower, sat by the computer and waited for a review to pour out.
That was nearly a week ago and believe me I'm still trying to wrap my head around the supposed "return" of the classic Godzilla. Perhaps the appeal of 31st film in the Japanese franchise (and the third reboot) is strictly limited to just Japanese audiences. Those on the island nation would no doubt feel a slight chill when comparing the images of destruction with memories of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Yet any heart strings that are unceremoniously plucked for the sake of reviving a franchise, should be muted by the film's airlessness and off-putting attempt at natural horror.
The plot of Shin Godzilla might as well be copied and pasted like a macabre, disaster film mad-lib. The monster emerges from Tokyo Bay and causes incalculable destruction, meanwhile a committee of Japanese politicians, experts and military brass try to put a stop to it. Wait, did I say committee? I meant a huge helping of committees and teams, and working groups, ministries, extra- governmental bodies, national and international task-forces; pretty much any kind of personnel organizational group who dedicates part of its man-hours justifying itself. Apart from the odd snippets of monster-on-city mayhem, Shin Godzilla is basically In the Loop (2009) without the jokes or the potty-mouth.
As I am familiar with the Toho films (though not as familiar as I should be), I was somewhat prepared for some kaiju inspired silliness. To that end, Shin Godzilla does deliver adorably lo-fi set-pieces of models being toppled, crushed and otherwise destroyed. The climax of the film; a hasty, time-clocked gamble that involves cranes and trains, is enough to give casual fans a moment of glee. Then of course there's the design of Godzilla himself which properly pays homage to the original 1954 version while cleverly adding on a few adaptations.
If this film were comprised of thirty more minutes of Godzilla running around Tokyo under helicopter fire, I'd like to think we'd all get our money's worth. Unfortunately the film is stuck in the tall weeds trying to justify itself with realism in all its bureaucratic glory. Much of plot revolves around research taskforce leader Rando Yaguchi (Hasegawa) and his band of personally selected misfits and flunkies. Using a long dead professor's impenetrable research into (insert faux science here), Rando navigates through a Kafka-esque maze of red tape to get his ideas to the attention of, among other people Kayoko Patterson (Ishihara) Special Envoy to the U.S. President.
The fact that this movie colors it's conceptually silly plot with shades of Fukushima as well as the old bogey-men nuclear fallout from WWII, is just enough to put this film on notice. Yet if a worthy message alone were enough to warrant recommendation then The Purge: Election Year (2016) should be considered a contemporary classic. It's not, and neither is Shin Godzilla.
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