Shin Godzilla

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In 1954, Toho Studios bankrolled the concept of a monster, created by the nuclear bomb, rising from the depths of the ocean and laying waste to Tokyo. The movie was less about the monster and more about nuclear warfare. Most of the discussion of the use of the H-Bomb only appear in the original Japanese version. The film was released in the US with all of those scenes removed and Raymond Burr added.

  • In 2004, Toho closed off the Godzilla franchise, citing expensive production costs and declining box office. “Godzilla: Final Wars” cost $19.5 Million to make and grossed only $12 Million. (Figures courtesy of Wikipedia)
  • In 2014, the US tried their hand at making a Godzilla film. Costing $160 Million to make, the film grossed $529.1 Million worldwide. (Figures courtesy of Wikipedia)

Seeing that Godzilla could be a viable franchise again, Toho decided to make another Godzilla film. This time, it would be a total reboot of the creature. This year, they released “Shin Godzilla” or “Godzilla Resurgence.” The film gives new life to the creature and the world around him.

In this film, though, Godzilla is not the only behemoth.

The film begins with the police boarding an abandoned boat. While they are investigating, steam starts rising from Tokyo Bay. The water is turning red in one area. The underwater roadway, the Aqua Line, cracks and water begins to enter.

Immediately, the government springs into action to try to figure out what is going on. This, of course, means numerous committee meetings, reports and paperwork. The bureaucracy of Japan is legendary and is on full display during the entire film.

 

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Men, papers and phones move from one room to another. They have narrowed it down to a possible earthquake or a new volcano causing the problems. One younger councilman suggests that it is a living creature doing the damage. As he is young, he generally ignored.

That is until something heaves its body onto the shore.

The monster is not very well-formed. Having no arms, it pushes itself along one of the rivers toward the center of Tokyo. In the rivers scenes, the creature is pushing boats ahead of itself. It is hauntingly reminiscent of the Tsunami of 2011. If you saw footage of the floods and the tidal surges, this scene was very close to that reality.

 

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Observers note that the creature has gills, which keep spewing blood as it moves. They also believe that it will die, crushed under its own weight. That is, until it stands. Everyone watches as the creature evolves from a water creature to a land creature right before their eyes.

As usual, military helicopters have been sent to destroy the creature. But the fear of collateral damage and its political repercussions is so great that the sight of an older couple crossing a nearby railroad track to escape causes the mission to be aborted.

The creature returns to the sea.

Life goes back to normal. Even the government feels that there is no longer a threat. That doesn’t last too long as a fully formed, fully evolved Godzilla emerges from the sea and begins a march to Tokyo.

Once again, committees form to try to figure out how to rid themselves of Godzilla. A young female biologist suggests that Godzilla derives his energy from nuclear power. Short-lived scoffing occurs as reports of radiation spikes around Godzilla proves the case.

The Prime Minister and his advisers have to decide if they should use the Self Defense Force, or get the US Military involved. Both happen. Stealth bombers are used, along with Japanese tanks and helicopter. Not only are they ineffective, but Godzilla unleashes particle beams from his mouth and  his dorsal fin that cut buildings in half  and destroys the bombers.

In an attempt to evacuate the city, the Prime Minister and his advisers are killed when a particle beam takes out their helicopter. Meanwhile, Godzilla doesn’t have a scratch.

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However, once the particle beams die down, Godzilla remains still. He is out of power and is, more or less, asleep. He is recharging. A group of scientists and others gather to work out the problem without government interference. They are trying to find a way to destroy Godzilla. And they don’t have a great deal of time. The UN has already decided that the US will drop a nuclear bomb on the monster the moment it seems to be waking up.

They decide that the best method to stop Godzilla is to freeze him.

 

And here is where I will stop as final battle with Godzilla is outside the box, creative and exciting. To go into detail would be criminal. See it!

 

My friend, HTG, is a big fan of Japan. He points out that the movie shows a number of aspects of the Japanese mindset:

  1. Fear of nuclear weapons
  2. Making fun of Japanese Bureaucracy
  3. Loyalty to Japan
  4.  Dislike of the United States

Throughout the film, the Government in its present form is unwieldy and unproductive. They ignore the young advisers and follow the old guard. The US throws its weight around by forcing the issue of using nuclear weapons on the monster. Further, the nuclear waste that likely spawned Godzilla was left in the ocean off Tokyo Bay by the US after the war. The group that comes up with another way than a nuclear bomb is doing its best to save Tokyo and Japan, especially when it becomes evident that even this Godzilla is still evolving…and the next evolution could include wings!

The film is done in a documentary style that identifies each character on the screen and gives their position in the government. All neighborhoods are identified in Tokyo, along with the percentage of the population. All weaponry and armament are labeled.

I do have to say that this aspect of the film gets a bit tiresome. However, it lends to the credibility of the film. I have often harbored the belief that all Godzilla films are, in fact, Documentaries and not works of fiction. This film can support that feeling.

Things to love about Shin Godzilla (Godzilla Resurgence).

It is definitely a throwback to the mood and the stance of the 1954 original (without Raymond Burr). There are real issues that are given serious moments. They are not glossed over and made fun of.

This Godzilla may be the most impressive incarnation in its storied history.

  • There is no skimping on the special effects. Fires and beams are more than believable. Buildings fall correctly. Trains…well, trains are great.
  • They did not dub the film. It is in the original Japanese with English subtitles.
  • Dialog is tight and believable. (Yes, that character would say that.)
  • There are no little kids with cutesy voices.

Did I mention that the special effects are incredible?

The last fifteen minutes of the film are intense, showing an ingenious battle against Godzilla. The final scene is eerie and foreboding.

 

As for me, only the 1954 original is better than this version of Godzilla.

 

I promise to let you know when the DVD appears.

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About Ernie Fink

Ernie Fink has been a fan of film, mainly in the genres of horror and mystery, in equal parts, for over fifty years. His love of horror in the cinema begins with "King Kong" and in literature with Edgar Allan Poe and Bernhardt J. Hurwood.  With mysteries, he skipped from the Hardy Boys right to Hercules Poirot, only to find John Rebus and Harry Hole waiting in the wings. He has been known to read subtitles extensively, and rarely leaves a theater until the lights come up.
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