Shin Godzilla (2016) - Review
by Bryan Mero
Godzilla is a staple among kijou monsters. The inspiration for dozens of movies since it's inception back in 1954. I used to watch Godzilla movies as a kid on a black and white TV. I loved the model cities, tanks, planes and especially their destruction by the 'guy in suit' Godzilla. Not much has changed over the years except for the upgrade of special affects with CGI. The latest Toho offering of Shin Godzilla is definitely a throwback to the original.
The movies starts with some kind of activity in Tokyo harbor while the coast guard explores an abandoned boat. The government goes into full panic mode, and in Japan that means everyone sits quietly around a table and explore their options and what the disturbance might be. The Japanese, according this movie, are very organized and structured. Every decision has to go through a committee. This is even mentioned during the movie, that they will have trouble making quick decisions if they have to go through the bureaucratic process.
This is a world where Godzilla has never been seen before. So this is a true reboot of the Godzilla franchise. Within all the bureaucratic processes there is one team of misfits that have an idea. They work differently then the rest of the government. They are all equals, speak their minds, contribute ideas no matter how far out they might be. This was probably the second best part of the movie. I just wish there was more of this group and more of each individual that had character. Unfortunately, they kept going back to the other parts of government that stayed stagnant. Towards the end of the movie, to be honest, I was nodding off a bit.
The best part of this movie...the king of all monsters himself, Godzilla. From the first time you see the big guy in Tokyo harbor until the very end, Godzilla steals the show. This is no longer 'man in suit' territory. The Godzilla FX for this movie is awesome. From the bird's eye view of Godzilla's path of destruction, to the GoPro style views from below the beast, this is Godzilla like we've never seen him before. He's a living creature. He has new abilities and aspects that I didn't see coming.
My complaints? Not unlike the American version of Godzilla, I wish would could have seen more of the kijou. We spend way too much time going from government official to official, meeting to meeting, so we could see why they are making the decisions before the first bullet can be fired. I would trade that for more scenes of Godzilla knocking over buildings. I'm not sure why that is so satisfying to see...it just does. My other recommendation would have been the ability to develop the characters from the 'special team' of misfits that figure out how to stop Godzilla. There was so much potential there that was wasted so we could cut back and forth between conversations and meetings which seem unnecessary.
Overall, I liked Shin Godzilla and would recommend it to any and all Godzilla fans. It sets the stage for a whole new series of movies. The franchise is not dead by any means. I'm sure we will see many more Godzilla movies to come and I look forward to some "Godzilla vs Mothra" remake along with many others. If they can tone down the government aspect and focus on the most important human characters, the Godzilla franchise could continue for decades.