Film company Toho recently decided to return to the monster movie business and the classic Godzilla franchise with 2016’s “Shin Godzilla.” The film, translated to English by Funimation Films, played in American theaters October 11-18.
The film is a reboot of the original “Godzilla” from 1954 with some changes, such as being set in modern-day Japan and changing Godzilla’s origins and design.
It was made as a response to the worldwide success of the 2014 film “Godzilla” produced by Legendary Pictures, but isn’t a continuation of Legendary’s ongoing Godzilla-King Kong film series.
Funimation did an excellent job translating the film’s dialogue, however, it’s possible the company didn’t have the time or resources to get a full American voice cast to dub over the Japanese actors because the film only has English subtitles.
This and many other choices in the film have brought the ratings in America down a few points ranging from a high 81 percent from Rotten Tomatoes to a low 68 percent from Metacritic.
This is extremely unfair to the film as a whole because it truly deserves to be praised like a god.
The pivotal aspect of any monster movie is the design of its monster and Toho went all out in creating the most menacing creature in film history… at least in its final form.
The biggest change Toho made to Godzilla’s origin is that he didn’t start out as the 300-foot tall city destroyer you might be used to.
Throughout the film, Godzilla evolves and takes a more powerful form after his first appearance.
Godzilla’s first form is a derp.
He only has two legs forcing him to crawl hunched over when he walks, he has no eyelids so he has giant discs with pupils where normal eyes would be, there are giant gills running down the side of his giraffe neck which are even more gross when they spew blood out of them and he has chicken wings for arms.
Luckily, you don’t have to see this form after the 30-minute mark of the film.
When Godzilla resurfaces in Tokyo he is truly a god incarnate.
He’s more reminiscent of the famous 1990s design, but with some tweaks that really drive home how evil he is.
Godzilla’s black armored skin is tearing and melting in patches on his body because of the concentration of nuclear power in him, there are blood red streaks of flesh running up and down his body as well as all the way down his back in between his dorsal spikes, his tail is longer than his entire body and can fire its own radiation beam out of the tip and his teeth are jagged and crooked as if they’re just shards of bone ripping through his jaw.
Critics have criticized the film saying it’s very slow paced and spends a lot of time on political jargon instead of action shots of the military vs. Godzilla.
This is somewhat true, as roughly half or more of the movie’s two-hour run time is spent on the conflict the Japanese government has in trying to decide how to fight Godzilla while protecting their country.
But these discussions are a part of the drama and add to the story, progressing it towards the climactic final stand as well as revealing some political distrust in real world Japan and portraying America as trigger happy nuke freaks.
Yes, the United States takes action in antagonizing Godzilla with bombs and asking the United Nations for permission to nuke Japan again.
Japan fights this decision saying it was on the verge of creating a freezing chemical to stop Godzilla without harming the country.
The climax of the film results in Japan finishing the chemical and making a final stand against Godzilla.
Without spoiling the film, the climax ends abruptly, leaving the viewer wanting more from the final battle.
Overall “Shin Godzilla” is a masterpiece of modern film making and design.
The scenes where Godzilla is destroying the city are well shot and dramatic, especially the first scene where he blasts his radioactive beam letting out a belch of hot air which evolves into a plume of roaring fire that sets Tokyo ablaze, turning into a stream of pure energy slicing through the airborne bombers and many buildings in Tokyo.
If you’re a fan of genius directing and perfect design take a look at “Shin Godzilla,” a film that’s worthy of the name “The New God Incarnate.”