Shin Godzilla (2016, Japan)

Shin Godzilla (Shin Gojira) (2016) シン・ゴジラ
Directed by Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi.

AKA Godzilla Resurgence

Written by Hideaki Anno.
Starring Hiroki Hasegawa, Yutaka Takenouchi and Satomi Ishihara.
Follows Godzilla: Final Wars (2004)

Shin Godzilla (2016) Theatrical Poster

Once I heard the news that the new Japanese Godzilla film was going to be playing in my city, I was overjoyed. Ever since I was a child, I have always loved Godzilla. I went into Shin Godzilla very excited to see how my favorite giant monster was going to be reimagined.

Shin Godzilla (also Godzilla Resurgence) is the latest installment and 31st film in the Godzilla franchise. Produced by Toho, this film is a reboot in which Godzilla’s origin story is retold in modern Japan. The film was written and directed by Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi (Evangelion, Attack on Titan).

In this Godzilla film, we see a new origin of the monster and the politics of dealing with such a destructive anomaly. I found the political drama aspect of the movie to be very compelling and despite politics being the main focus of the movie, it never felt boring. If there really were a giant destructive creature rampaging unexpectedly through the city, dealing with it surely would be a political nightmare.

Shin Godzilla (2016)

Another aspect of the film I greatly enjoyed were the stylistic choices. The film was well shot. During the first act, the shots often cut to a documentary-style point of view, as if the they are coming from civilians in the midst of the destruction. Both the film’s score and the creature’s design invoke nostalgia to the old films. Some scenes feature the slow pounding piano and horns that seem as if they came directly from the original 1954 film. Godzilla’s new look has a similar feel to the classic monster, with some more alien-like features, which I really liked.

The CGI in the film is not very consistent, especially early on. The destruction physics and animation in the first few monster scenes are a little too cartoon-like when up against the daytime backdrop of Tokyo. There are instances where heavy objects such as pieces of buildings and cars fly slowly through the air with little gravity. Some more attention to the animation would have made the beginning of the film much better, especially with the unique cinematography. Fortunately the shots of Godzilla in the second and third acts look great for the most part.

Shin Godzilla (2016)

The film’s structure and pace is similar to the old films and the recent American film. The monster is the integral part of the film’s plot, but isn’t visible for a good portion of the movie. I was glad for this, because it made the Godzilla scenes much better. The few times we see Godzilla lumbering through Tokyo, we are rewarded with some pretty impressive destruction. I never felt disappointed after a monster scene, as I sometimes did when I saw the 2014 American Godzilla.

The only lacking part of the film, in my opinion, was the third act. We are left with a fully resolved ending, but it seemed rushed compared to the rest of the movie. It wasn’t necessarily anticlimactic, but it could have been a little more fleshed out. It wasn’t a disappointing ending by any means, in fact, many people in the theater clapped when the credits began rolling. This was a huge contrast to when I went to see the 2014 Godzilla, in which some of the theater-goers near me were cursing when the end credits started.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable Godzilla movie. Despite a few rough CGI scenes and a slightly dull ending, it is a worthwhile edition the franchise. It features some thoughtful elements that call back to the classic films and it also adds some very cool elements of it’s own.

Sean Sullivan