Godzilla is one of those franchises with such an incredible history regarded as the big daddy of Japanese Monster Movies. Released in 1954 by TOHO, the first Godzilla film was the most influential monster movie of it's time depicting the monster as a metaphor to nuclear bomb as a god-like creature leaving destruction and death in it's path but later Godzilla films became more goofy action fun with crazier creature designs, out of control destruction, cheesy English dubbing and Godzilla being the monster who defies the laws of gravity and gives the middle finger to physics (he does a flying kick to other monsters, does a victory jump and bitch slaps 1998 Godzilla with his tail... Yeah, that's freaking awesome). In the West, many Hollywood companies tried to adapt Godzilla for western audiences but we got Godzilla, a 1998 adaptation of the franchise by the filmmakers of Independence Day who turned the film into a ID4 cash grab for SONY and was so awful, TOHO re-named that creature as "Zilla" instead. Not to mention the film was originally supposed to be a mix between the original and the goofier Godzilla films by Ted Elliot & Terry Rossio which their script got thrown to the trash in favor of what we got. It wasn't until 2014 when Gareth Edwards delivered us the Godzilla reboot which became the biggest successful American adaptation of TOHO's legendary franchise. As for me, I loved Godzilla 2014 cause it brought back the anticipation and subtlety these big budget action films now lack these days and it was the perfect middle-finger to the 1998 shitfest of a movie. It was so good, TOHO praised it for being the most respectful interpretation of the iconic monster and gave TOHO the much needed confidence to make more Godzilla movies. Hence we got Shin-Godzilla, the film reboot we've been waiting for while the team behind Neon Genesis Evangelion including Hideaki Anno & Shinji Higuchi as directors for the film while Anno wrote the script. With all the history put out for you, I'm still baffled at the movie cause my god... Shin-Godzilla has got to be the biggest surprise I ever encountered and it got me excited for more Godzilla movies. Now THAT is an achievement worth talking.
The plot for Shin-Godzilla is much like every Godzilla film made: Godzilla comes to Tokyo, wrecks shit up, the Japanese military try to stop it but are unsuccessful in defeating the monster and hell breaks loose. The big difference is the film centering around the Japanese bureaucracy making idiotic decisions when it comes to natural disasters and how it backfires right in their faces. Surprisingly, I dug the hell out of these scenes as it establishes Japan as a nation who gave up fighting while letting others do their battles for them but when a menace like Godzilla comes up, they fought back but fail through their own incompetence and they must work together as one to stop the monster before the government drops a bomb to Tokyo. The film even explores the idea of nuclear energy as a source for humanity and how Japan must now "live with it" to use it for mankind's benefit of growing as a society rather than being against it which is a very ballsy move for TOHO. Hell, the entire movie is an expansion on the themes of the original Godzilla movie but with some new twists in it's story and whenever or not you like the ideas presented in the film, there's no denying the sheer raw statements regarding the bureaucratic system of Japan or the controversies regarding nuclear source will hit home with some people but it's this sense of darkness and hopelessness that gives the movie an edge over some generic blockbuster with flashy visuals while pretending to have some story. The characters are very good and while there's too many characters in the film, their interactions with one another makes them like real people rather than caricatures from the goofier Godzilla films and you can relate to their struggles once Godzilla comes to Tokyo as we get sucked into their urgency in protecting the city from a devastating force of nature while the clock is ticking as every second matters with each action gradually becoming more complicated than the last. While the film does have goofy moments with the characters to balance out the dark tone, watching the characters work and plan out how to stop the monster while dealing with all the terrible outcome gives the film a lot of humanity and makes us care for their plight to win back Tokyo.
I also want to give praise for how damn beautiful the film looks. Hideaki Anno's direction is phenomenal with each establishing or overhead shots making us feel like we are really witnessing Godzilla in all it's glory as he embodies destruction whenever he goes and the atmosphere is just bone-chilling like the kind of atmosphere when you know something bad will happen but you just don't where. Every scene with the monster is just an experience like the scene where hid massive tail moving above the japanese citizens which gave me goosebumps or the other where Godzilla is still evolving while wrecking havoc in the city during the first half of the movie (not gonna post the picture but it's best to see it yourself rather than give you the nightmare now) or the scene where Godzilla goes full nuclear to the city resulting in one of the most hauntingly beautiful scenes in any Godzilla movie. Which brings us to the music in Shin-Godzilla and not only it uses the original stock music from composer Akira Ikufube but the score by Evangelion composer Shiro Sagisu is the most refreshing film score to ever grace the screen. From the harsh use of violins, the subtle use of taiko drums, the unnerving dark choirs and calm choirs of death itself, the music just embodies Godzilla as a true god of destruction and it utilized to pure perfection. If there's gonna be another Godzilla film, please bring Yoko Kanno and Kenji Kawai for the score (you know you want it!).
I almost forgot, I haven't spoken about the design Godzilla and mine's not different cause it is horrifying. Actually, that's not right. The real description for this design for Godzilla is to ask Dr. Frankenstein to create the most horrible abomination in existence, steal dead bodies from reptiles, cut their legs and arms, stitch em together into a massive fossil of a T-rex, add nuclear radiation and you got yourself this nightmare fuel for months. From it's sharp piranha teeth, his thick skin and ghoulish red outline gives Godzilla a true feeling of despair as he ravages the city. The near sight from far away as you see Godzilla stumble down the streets will give you chills down your spine (The scene where he annihilates Tokyo scarred me for days). Will they stick to this design in future movies? I don't know but I sure hope so cause I don't think TOHO can't top off this design and it would be suicide if they went the safer route if they eventually re-design Godzilla again cause this design is absolute PERFECTION.
Overall, I really dug Shin-Godzilla. It took what made the original great but expand it's elements to a newer audience just experience the might and wrath of the titular monster for the first time to stand on it's own legs. This is also probably Hideaki Anno's best work by far and I'm curious if he will stick around for future sequels giving the film ends on a haunting note (not gonna spoil it). Since Shin-Godzilla is now successful, we are getting the first ever Godzilla animated movie while being written by Gen Urobochi of Madoka Magica & Psycho-Pass fame...
"My body is ready, TOHO!"
SHIN GODZILLA: 4/5