Saturday Afternoon Kaiju: Shin Godzilla (2016)
With the upcoming release of FUNimation's Blu-ray of Shin Godzilla in the U.S., I thought it would be the perfect movie to discuss this week. I saw it a couple of months ago and was excited to write about it, but as it wasn’t readily available to everyone, I thought I’d hold back. Once the news hit about its imminent US release, I penciled it in for this week.
Normally, because the movies I talk about here have been around 30 plus years, I’d go through the plot pretty thoroughly. But since a lot of people (most, even) haven’t seen Shin Godzilla, I don’t want to give too much away. So, in that spirit, here we go…
There is something amiss in Tokyo Bay. After having their boat destroyed investigating an abandoned yacht, authorities are trying to figure out what the fuck is going on. They gather all kinds of government types (bureaucracy at work!) to discuss what’s out there and what to do about it. Is it a volcano? Did a water pipe burst? Someone does suggest an actual live creature but that person gets shut down pretty quickly. How could there be an actual monster in the bay? Absurd!
Of course, that person was correct because shortly afterwards, something that looks like a giant hook worm emerges from the water. The government tells everyone not to worry about it. Then the thing sort of grows into something else. The government tells everyone not to panic, they got it under control and it will never go ashore. It then goes ashore and wrecks havoc on the town.
Eventually, the creature turns into what we’d recognize as Godzilla. I mean, it’s not your mum’s Godzilla, but you can still recognize it. The government tries to contain him but, c’mon, they are no match for the big grey and red guy (yeah, he isn’t green). The U.N. gets involved and the U.S. sends an envoy to tell the Japanese that they are going to take over "Operation Kill Godzilla" (my name, of course). They are going to nuke him, and how. At the same time, there is a group of misfits (think the TV show Scorpion) working for the Japanese government who are studying Godzilla and trying to come up with a solution to get rid of him. “How do you solve a problem like Godzilla?” It’s a race against the clock. Will the U.S. bomb the fuck out of Tokyo to get rid of the monster? Can the Japanese figure out a way to stop Godzilla before part of their country is wiped out? Find out Tuesday when the Blu-ray goes on sale!
Shin Godzilla, if nothing else, is clearly a comment on the Japanese government and the way it handled the earthquake in 2011, the resulting tsunami, and the nuclear disaster in Fukushima. It pulls no punches in terms of showing how the government is full of bureaucracy. There are so many levels of people who have to be consulted before anything can be done. The higher-ups delegate down and the cycle just continues, meanwhile people are dying. The people at the bottom are the ones actually getting the work done and not really getting the credit for it.
I liked this one better than any modern era Godzilla movie, that’s for sure. Unlike the earlier Toho movies of the 1960s and '70s, this one has the “benefit” of CGI. Does it always work? Well, some of the shots are rather dodgy but I’ll tell you, there is a scene when Godzilla gets going on all cylinders and is destroying everything that is so goddamn beautiful, I had to go back and watch it three more times. You’ll know it when you see it.
Shin Godzilla doesn’t have the charm of the older Godzilla movies, but that’s okay. This is yet another reboot effort but I think they are on the right track. After watching the abysmal Godzilla: Final Wars, this movie was a pleasant surprise. All the Godzilla things you love are still there; his noise, his music, his anger, his ability to knock over buildings in his loppy, endearing way. There is a lot of great stuff in this movie. Is it perfect? Of course not, as I said earlier, some of the CGI isn’t the best, and some fat could be cut from the almost 2-hour run time, but you do get to see a lot of Godzilla destroying shit, which really is the point, isn’t?
The U.S. release of Shin Godzilla on Blu-ray/DVD from FUNimation comes out on August 1st.