Release Date: October 11, 2016 (US)
Studio: Toho, Funimation
Director:Hideaki Anno, Shinji Higuchi
Release Format: Theatrical
Godzilla has seen many incarnations over the years. From the 1960s original to the 1997 American T-Rex wannabe, and the American reboot in 2014. With the gaining popularity of films with kaiju (thanks, Pacific Rim), TOHO decided to reboot Godzilla themselves. Shin Godzilla, also known as Godzilla Resurgence, is the first TOHO production of the monster since the awful Final Wars and it was worth the wait.
Resurgence, in a way is a modern remake. Like the 1960’s original, Resurgence is not just about giant monsters, but a look at the affairs of the world today. Like how Godzilla (Gojira) was a look at the world of the atom bomb, Resurgence is a look at politics. When a creature surfaces in Tokyo Bay, the government of Japan is unsure how to proceed. Bureaucratic red tape is one such thing preventing the government to act, while this creature is decimating a highly populated district in Tokyo. The monster is given the name Godzilla by the Americans at which point it goes back to sea. It is then a task force is put in place to stop the giant monster.
Resurgence’s story doesn’t just say a lot about Japanese government but gives a look at the affairs of other governments as well. Post WW-II Japan makes it difficult for them to act so that leaves outside interference so to speak. The US is a shadow that is constantly over the film. It is a highly engaging look at the world that many will find compelling.
Godzilla wasn’t just about giant monsters wreaking havoc, so it is nice that Resurgence takes that approach as well. Fans of the original films might also take comfort knowing that this might be the take of the giant monster they been waiting for. The monster is slow, but the destruction is brings is devastating. He is more like the 1960’s natural disaster that has atomic breath.
While the story is compelling and action packed, there are some pacing issues. Mostly in the middle when Godzilla isn’t present, Resurgence is slow. It’s not like the 2014 American take on the kaiju where Godzilla didn’t even have 20 minutes of screen time. The problem comes down on the viewer. The issues didn’t bother me in particular, but will sure bother some who don’t want to hear about all the politics. Maybe that is what TOHO was trying to achieve. To teach people about politics and how it can be a good and bad thing.
As for the design of Godzilla, there are a few things worth mentioning. For starters, the monster has different forms in the film. Many complained about the design when the trailer first hit. The tail was one of the bigger complaints. “It looks like a snake”. Some might laugh or not take it seriously, but the design fits the tone of the film. To avoid spoilers, let me just say, atomic waste plays a big part of his design. Godzilla is, to some degree, a metaphor. In the case of Resurgence, he is used as both a metaphor in terms of politics and atomic waste.
Speaking of design, Godzilla also is beautifully filmed. The cinematography is better than most films of 2016. There are moments when Resurgence uses a mix of found footage and regular film to the benefit of the story. Action sequences such as the Japanese defense force and the US Air Force try to fight Godzilla, are smooth (as in no shaky cam). Of course, there are some moments when CGI is just plain awful to look at. These moments, while quite often, fit the tone of the overall film and don’t detract from the experience.
For the US release, the film is subtitled (NO DUBS!). We get to see the Japanese version in it’s true form. Acting is very good, despite being sometimes over the top. You might recognize some of the cast from the Attack on Titan films, which their performance vastly improved. Resurgence is grounded in reality, the best it can be. The acting helps make the movie feel that way. Expect some humor and even moments that might bring you close to tears. It is a nice balance.
Overall, Shin Godzilla might be the take on the character we been waiting for. It definitely won’t make everyone happy since there is no monster fighting monster. With such a compelling movie with some hard looks at the world as it is today, Shin Godzilla is definitely one of the best films of 2016, not just for foreign films, but films in general. Lets just see how the US can top the TOHO films after Resurgence.
- Godzilla design
- The acting
- Themes of politics and atomic materials still relevant
- Some minor pacing issues