The last US Godzilla remake was severely criticised for its concentration on a human character thereby limiting Godzilla’s screen time, which is historically an unfair criticism. Godzilla movies are always a bit of a mixed bag. There’s always a mix of city-stomping action and boring people being boring. As such, this criticism of the US Godzilla is unfair – though the criticism that maybe the human it should have been following was Brian Cranston has a little more merit.
The most recent Japanese Godzilla movie is also a mix of dull humans and the city-stomping star of the show and it gets the mix even worse than the American version. It follows the worst of the American remake’s example and goes for a somewhat dour movie. Shin Godzilla is clearly an attempt to get back to basics and recapture the spirit of 1954’s original Godzilla with its serious tone and clear-cut message, and to leave out the outrageous silliness of the later Godzilla films.
The result is, slow and dull. While the effects on the new Godzilla monster itself are excellent, the film is mostly concerned with Japanese politicians and bureaucrats organising the fight against the monster. You remember how in the old-time Godzilla movies there would always be a scene where our heroes have a conversation in front of a bunch of non-speaking extras in suits and uniforms who are meant to represent the Japanese government? Well, imagine an entire film about those non-speaking extras, and you basically have Shin Godzilla.
There are a couple of interesting points here. A couple. They touch on constitutional issues, like ‘does a kaiju count as an aggressor nation for purposes of mobilising the Self Defence Force’? Trouble is, while a question like that might be an interesting exercise for some Japanese legal students down at the pub, it’s kind of pointless in a Godzilla movie, because of course they’re going to call out the SDF. And there’s a serious plot line involving the Japanese defenders trying to find a way to defeat Godzilla before the Americans nuke him. Again, of course the Americans won’t actually be allowed to nuke Tokyo, even if the writers have to find the most unlikely way to halt Godzilla’s rampage for long enough for a realistic non-nuclear option to be discovered.
Other than that, it hits so many problems with gritty reboots. In attempting to shear Godzilla franchise of its glorious nonsense it ends up dour and colourless but ultimately fails to actually get rid of all the nonsense. In spite of all the obvious thought that has gone into this movie, I think I’d rather have just rewatched 1969’s Destroy All Monsters again.
Even if it did have Minilla in it. Ugh, Minilla