I am fresh out of the theater and back home after seeing the newest Godzilla movie and figured thought I had better get my thoughts down while they are still fresh. A “Hot Take” if you will.
First off, and bottom line up front, this is a 5 star movie. I have seen, and own, every Godzilla movie and I am a huge fan. I can tell you right now, this is the best one ever made. Not only is it a great Godzilla film, it is Kino. It is a legit film, period.
The main attraction to Godzilla films has always been Godzilla and his rampage, obviously. The human characters are just kind of there in most of them. They are dealing with the monster. or trying to assist him depending on the film. All of them are usually not very interesting.
This time it’s different, this one pulled off something the US films tried and failed at. I was 100% invested in the human characters in this movie. They were compelling, their lives were compelling and relatable. All of them are likable and interesting.
The story has a lot going on in subtext and themes. Not since the first movie has the main point of a Godzilla film been so deep.
It shows us realistic PTSD and survivor’s guilt from the main character. He suffers from his time in World War 2. He feels it was his failure that got so many killed. We see him form a family unit and try to make his way in post-war Japan, ravaged and destroyed.
The story has the normal Japanese tropes of teamwork, doing your duty, and accepting tragedy and moving on with it. But this time there is a cynicism in it about the Japanese government that has only started popping up in the most recent Japanese films. Unlike some others, it’s not implied that the US is the cause of all of wartime Japan’s problems.
Most of the characters are veterans who survived World War 2 and they talk about the Japanese government like I talk about the US government. When the broke, powerless government can’t do anything to help, the veterans of the war get together to attempt to defeat Godzilla with no support. Some heavy stuff in this movie about a giant atomic monster.
How is Godzilla in this movie? He looks great. Best he has ever looked. He is mean as hell. We are back to the days of Godzilla coming out of the sea pissed off and vicious. You can see some influence from the US 2014 film in some shots. They seem to have realized just what they could do with CGI and interesting camera angles with Godzilla over at Toho.
Watching Godzilla chase a small boat made me think of Jaws. Then seeing him swim under battleships looked great. Unlike Shin Godzilla, he is not full of new powers and abilities that he never had before. I have no intention of giving any spoilers but I will say one thing. His atomic beam is the best it’s ever been. When he fires it and it hits, it goes off like an atomic bomb. When he uses it on land it is awesome. The explosion from impact is portrayed as a nuke blast. We get the pressure wave and a giant mushroom cloud, the black rain that falls. Very on the nose for getting back to Godzilla’s original metaphor for nuclear weapons.
The ending was extremely satisfying for me, personally. I like that there is no absurd future Sci-Ff plan to defeat Godzilla. No MASER beams or KILLSATs. It is set a couple of years after World War 2, after all.
This is no monster fight movie so if that is what you are hoping for, then forget it. We do see Godzilla, within the first 10 minutes of the movie, and then not again until the 40-minute mark. This did not bother me in the slightest. The human character story really is that compelling. The 2-hour run time felt like an hour to me.
I can’t recommend this one enough. Japan has always made the most entertaining Godzilla movies. That doesn’t even need saying, but this time they reached their potential of making something that looks as good as any Hollywood blockbuster just with the serious tone of the subject matter that hasn’t really been approached since the first Godzilla film.
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