What a fascinating film I just watched. I love me some old Godzilla movies. The effects are so bad, but the kaiju fighting is just too much fun. Plus, watching them dubbed adds an extra layer of cheese that cannot be compared. I didn’t really like the new Godzilla movie that America made, partly because there was so little of the actual monsters. A similar criticism could easily be leveled at this movie, but I won’t. Why? Because this film just took the most fascinating approach. There is a lot to unpack here, so let’s get down to it.
The plot of this film is just focused exclusively around Godzilla. No other kaiju to fight. This movie has our titular monster as the big bad, which again sounds like it would be boring, but this movie just so odd. It tells the story of a new Godzilla in a world where he never existed, now coming for Japan (what is his beef with that place? What the fuck did they do to him?) and the Japanese government desperately trying to save their country from destruction.
This film is perhaps the most political movie I’ve seen in years. It’s weird. 95% of this movie is spent with characters just talking. There is so much talk about Japanese politics that you almost forget that you’re watching a Godzilla film for a while. I wanna hate that, but I don’t. Getting to see this Japanese government and some genuinely-likeable characters desperately trying to figure out what to do in the face of an international threat that is looking to take excessive measures to stop Godzilla is genuinely touching. The head of a special department who is trying to figure out a way to stop Godzilla specifically is my favorite. You genuinely get the feeling that he is invested in this effort to save his country.
Since the entirety of the movie revolves around the political sphere, if you hate listening to people talk about politics for almost the entirety of the 2 hour runtime of this film, you’re gonna hate it. That’s the big and small of it. Even when you see things happening in service to the plot of the film, they always find a way to bring it back to the the government’s efforts and how international pressure comes into play. It’s actually kinda smart. You genuinely feel for these people who are stuck in a world where they have red tape and public to worry about. I like this perspective. In the American film, it was all about a small section of military characters, none of whom were particularly interesting. This movie has a kind of authenticity because they keep it focused on Japan and make the outside world as not evil, but disconnected. You can take all this for what you will.
That being said, this film has a LOT of elements that are silly to the point of ridiculousness. Since there are a lot of American characters in this movie, you get some genuinely funny Engrish. This female character who is the American liaison to Japan is my favorite. It’s clear that she’s a Japanese actress and English is NOT her first language. But believe it or not, they get real American actors to play American parts. The problem is that the writing for these actors is clearly done by somebody where English is their first language. So the dialogue is so fucking stilted. It’s kind great. Oh boy.
Speaking of ridiculous things, let’s talk about the effects in this movie. In the old films, it’s clearly someone in a suit. This time they decided to trade in the suit for CG, and it’s…terrible. I love it. When you first see Godzilla in his original form, it looks so bad that I was laughing my ass off. The eyes especially. That was the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time. Maybe that’s why they worked so hard to keep the focus off him. Because too much time with the monster and we would have been laughing our asses off.
But it isn’t devoid of cool effects. There is one scene that just blows me away. It’s when they finally do real damage to the monster, and he loses his cool. What follows may not be amazing, but is done with so much finesse and really good musical cues that you feel how desperate the situation is.
One thing I do wanna point out is a track used in this film. When I first heard it, I laughed my ass off. It’s so clearly robbed from Evangelion. I mean, to the point of shameless. If it wasn’t for the fact that I know that FUNimation is at least partly licensed in the production of this film, I’d be amazed that they haven’t sued the living shit out of this studio. It’s so obviously the track from Evangelion. They do change it just a little bit later in the film, but it’s not enough to make me think it’s anything else.
I also wanna talk about this film’s weird habit of suddenly taking strange angle shots right the fuck out of nowhere! I mean nowhere! They’ll suddenly have a shot from the weirdest angle and then cut away. Whoever was behind that decision, I want to know why. These shots just come and go in a split-second, and serve no purpose in any scene they are in.
Overall, I’m not sure how to rate this film. There are a TON of flaws that one could easily nit-pick to death. But, I had fun watching it. This is a genuinely entertaining movie, for me. Maybe it’s because I liked these characters, and the politics they were talking about was genuinely interesting. I don’t know. But your mileage with this movie will vary. So glad I watched it with subtitles. If I had had to suffer the dub, I know I wouldn’t have been able to take ANY of it seriously. The genuine strength of the performances comes out only in original Japanese. This review may not make much sense to you, but this is the best I can talk about it. Do with my review what you will.
7 out of 10