What’s it about: It’s about trying to contain the destructive forces once they’ve already been unleashed from Pandora’s box. Pick your metaphor–nuclear destruction, environmental disaster. Any monster of our own making.
What I liked about it:
The music. You can have a spaghetti western without Ennio Morricone music, and you can have a Godzilla movie without Akira Ifukube, but why on Earth would you want to? It just doesn’t feel right without it. Fortunately, Shin Godzilla sounds familiar.
The political commentary. Godzilla isn’t the biggest, slowest moving gigantic monster on screen; that honor belongs to the Japanese bureaucracy. It’s not that there aren’t good people in it. But, as everyone knows, bureaucracy and efficiency don’t exactly go hand in hand, and Shin Godzilla does a good job of championing individual bureaucrats working long hours under constrained conditions and making thankless sacrifices to get the job done while also simultaneously poking fun at the absurdity of those same people attending countless pre-meetings, meetings, and after meetings to decide what to do while–hello–a giant monster tromps through the city.
What I didn’t like about it:
Godzilla. There, I said it. I didn’t like the monster. Some incarnations of Godzilla in this movie are borderline laughable. Worse still, he barely has any personality at all. And while that may work thematically to the movie’s advantage in exploring him as a metaphor, it doesn’t make for a very fun monster movie.
The lack of character development. “The big problem with the movie,” I commented in my review of the 2014 American Godzilla, “is that it fails to align the story of the people with the action of the Kaiju in any remotely satisfying way.” Ditto for this one. In an effort to broadly focus on the effort of a city to respond to a crisis, the movie fails to connect the audience effectively with any of the individuals who star in it, and as a result, it feels a bit sterile.
BL: As a reboot of the original Godzilla, it works. Mostly. American audiences who are fans enough of the franchise to read sub-titles will be satisfied enough. Heck, it’s exciting just seeing that Toho splash screen, and it’s cleverer than the 2014 American attempt. Ultimately though, like the 2014 version, Shin Godzilla left me a little cold. It’s a monster movie for crying out loud, put some more fun back into it, okay? Please?