Review: Shin Godzilla (2016) — A political satire that does the King of Monsters justice

shin godzilla resurrection

Shin Godzilla a.k.a. Godzilla Resurrection

Movie review

After two Hollywood film adaptations, the “King of Monsters” is back to its origin country of Japan with the franchise’s original production studio, Toho, making its own complete reboot and giving it a new “origin story”. As dozens of adaptations and sequels of Godzilla have already been made and seen, a fresher approach was taken and strangely, that approach is politics. A lot, and lots, of politics. So much that it can be considered a political drama more than a monster flick.

Co-directed and screenwritten by the creator of the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion, Hideaki Anno, Shin Godzilla takes place in present time where the titular gigantic monster emerges from the sea to Japan for the first time. The film’s narratives largely follows the Japanese government and the idealistic protagonist Rando Yaguchi (Hiroki Hasegawa), who’s the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary that leads the research team. The film has a lot of government characters and a lot of dialogues (which also means a lot of subtitles to read for those who can’t understand Japanese language), decision-making, government procedural, bureaucracy jargon and prime minister-pressuring/manipulation but underneath it all, it’s a political satire with subtle messages.

Shin Godzilla resurrection Hiroki Hasegawa research team movie still

In the film, most of the characters are portrayed as politicians who lack of humanity and prioritise career and reputation over everything else even during such crucial times when lives are at stake and ultimately, none of them are looking into the root of the problem that gave birth to Godzilla — mankind’s self-destruction or nature/God’s punishment on mankind. However, if the audience is unable to look at the film in this context, Shin Godzilla would be a very boring, talky movie with minimal Godzilla screen time and zero emotional engagement. Seriously, there’s no romance, no family stuff. Heck, none of the politicians is even seen contacting a family member out of concern.

The cast consists of a number of familiar faces including Yutaka Takenouchi (Beach Boys, Long Vacation) but the performances are, well, pretty much the expected standards from a Japanese “kaiju” monster movie. The film would’ve been highly realistic if there wasn’t the corny portrayal of American characters and cringe-worthy English dialogues mostly delivered by the US President’s Special Envoy Kayoko Ann Patterson played by Japanese actress Satomi Ishihara (Attack on Titan, Sadako 3D).

shin godzilla resurrection meme

The monster itself is done justice despite looking a bit silly at first in its first form with the big round eyes and stiff dead-centred iris. Not sure what’s with Japan and different forms of their fictional creatures but with co-director Shinji Higuchi (Attack on Titan, Gamera) in charge of the special effects, Godzilla here looks and feels convincingly gigantic, mighty, threatening and indestructible. The scale is as huge as it needs to be with a variety of wide angle, aerial, ground and rotation shots as Godzilla rampages through skyscrapers, destroying cities in Japan.

The combination of practical effects, motion capture (of Mansai Nomura as Godzilla) and CG work very well in making the monster and all the destruction appear very real but even when Godzilla’s not on screen, its presence can still be felt due to the mounting pressure on the government to stop it. Shin Godzilla certainly has qualities that Hollywood’s 2014 adaptation didn’t manage to capture but it sacrificed the emotions, thrills and fun that the general audiences and fans may be expecting from it.

What I would’ve named the film: “House of Cards-toh: Gojira”

Malaysian censorship: I highly doubt anything was require to be censored… at all.

Verdict: Not your average monster flick and it lacks of the general entertainment value but it has a purpose and more importantly, the monster itself is done right.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

shin godzilla resurrection movie poster tgv malaysiaBased on: 1954 Japanese film “Godzilla”
Country / Language: Japan / Japanese and English

Genre: Science fiction kaiju drama
Running Time: 120 minutes
Directors: Hideaki Anno, Shinji Higuchi
Screenwriter: Hideaki Anno
Cast: Hiroki Hasegawa, Yutaka Takenouchi, Ishihara Satomi

Malaysia Release Date: 22 September 2016
Rated: P13
Local Distributor: TGV Pictures
Production: Toho

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