Shin Godzilla


Director: Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi
Year: 2016
Duration: 2 hours
Country: Japan

AKA Godzilla Resurgence

Godzilla is back in the film "Shin Godzilla" and is stomping all over Tokyo yet once again. On a personal note, it was just nice seeing a disaster film in which New York City and my condo was not destroyed for a change. Tokyo doesn’t make out so well. This one could have been titled Godzilla vs. the Government Bureaucrats as it seems to take special pleasure in skewering the inability of the Japanese government to get anything done as every action gets bogged down in red tape, indecision, political calculation and a strict adherence to every law in the books. Also, probably not by chance is the fact that nearly all these bureaucrats are men. They finally decide that they can attack Godzilla once they find a regulation that allows the government to destroy pests. Some pest. But at times you have to wonder that if they can’t destroy Godzilla (called Gojira in Japan) with weapons, they could certainly talk this creature to death as this has to be the talkiest Kaiju film ever and often at the speed of light. Kaiju for those not in the know is the term used for the genre of Japanese monster films that also included Gamera (my favorite), Mothra, Rodan and others who have cheerfully been obliterating Japan now for about 60 years. Throw in some good old anti-American sentiments – well we want to nuke Tokyo – and you have a very political film among the wreckage.


But that is really the origin of Godzilla if you go back to the very first one in 1954 which was a harsh critique of the nuclear age. Not too surprising considering the war. In that one Godzilla is a creation of nuclear waste and that is also the premise of this one and if you throw in the disaster at Fukushima in 2011 the film is even more pertinent to our times. By the way, the original Godzilla was corrupted for American audiences by inserting a part for Raymond Burr, deleting other scenes and dubbing it into English. It is a mess and helped make Kaiju films a bit of a joke in America, but a few years back I had the chance to see the original at Film Forum and was shocked at what a truly great film it is.


When the film gets away from the bureaucratic inaction and infighting – which in truth is fairly interesting from an outside perspective – it has some wonderful scenes of pure mayhem and destruction that are delightful on so many levels. In most of the Godzilla films I have seen there are sympathetic roles for civilians – children often who have a bond with Godzilla – Godzilla is never really evil and often actually saves Japan from an even worse threat – but this film just jumps into the action from the moment it begins and bothers not with any sub-plots around romance, little girls or civilians in the path of destruction. And this Godzilla is perhaps not evil but is as pure a destructive weapon as could be devised. Don’t be put off by the initial appearance of Godzilla in which he looks like a damn sock puppet pushing over buildings – I was horrified - but it evolves into the Godzilla we love and fear soon enough.

Rating 7.5/10