We’re all thinking it, we all know it, a Godzilla movie isn’t a Godzilla movie unless there’s a man in a giant rubber suit smashing up parts of Japan. This is just fact. As good as Gareth Edwards 2014 attempt was, there was no giant rubber suit, there was no mega-trashing of Japan. Doesn’t count. With Shin Godzilla, we’re back to the tried and tested formula, or are we?
Japan is one of the most bureaucratic places on earth, apparently. Writer and director Hideaki Anno (Evangelion, Sugar Sugar Rune) certainly seems to think so as, with Shin Godzilla (the meaning of ‘shin’ being open to interpretation, possibly new, real, evolved, belief or god as a meaning), he’s put Japanese bureaucracy front and centre.
Whilst usual Godzilla movies concern themselves with the beast or the beast battling other beasts. Shin Godzilla focuses on a country’s response to a giant monster arriving just off the coast. Not just any giant monster though. This particular giant monster is evolving, powered by fusion and seems intent on wilful destruction.
The CGI for the Shin Godzilla movie is really very well done. The crushing of cars, the destruction of buildings, the tanks, helicopters, it’s all there and all works, it did have a budget of some $15 million US. Where they’ve been clever, is by keeping the Godzilla monster as close to the 1954 original as possible.
When Godzilla first arrives out of the sea, it looks like a man in a very wobbly rubber suit, sliding over model buildings, but the model buildings, cars and trains that get smashed and flung about are as realistic as you could imagine. It’s a clever juxtaposition that you’ll either love or hate.
That pretty much sums up the film actually. Some are going to hate it, others will enjoy it. If you’re expecting monster action throughout, you’re going to be disappointed. The vast majority of the movie is taken up with politicians within Japanese government discussing and deciding what to do about this thing that’s landed in their lap.
Hiroki Hasegawa (Attack on Titan, Why Don’t You Play in Hell) plays Rando Yaguchi who, from the off, believes that there is some kind of monster out in the sea that has caused the initial disturbance. Satomi Ishihara (Attack on Titan, Sadako 3D) plays the Japanese US envoy type person and it’s these two who, together with a host of politicians, academics and the like, come up with a plan to save Japan.
It is quite fun to see this sort of movie from a completely different side of things. How would a government deal with a giant, radioactive monster arriving? The prime minister has difficult decisions to make for example; launch an attack in a populated area, or allow the monster to continue wreaking havoc?
There’s layer upon layer of bureaucracy that politicians must jump through, even when everyone is sat around the same table, questions and instructions go through a number of people, despite everyone hearing the answer. It’s laughable, but you can imagine this is exactly the process that pretty much any civilized government must go through to get anything done.
With the impending threat of the US simply dealing with the matter by dropping a nuclear bomb on it, good old USA, the clever boffins eventually come up with a plan of attack taken from a man, since disappeared, who foresaw the arrival of Godzilla years before.
As I said, you’ll either love Shin Godzilla or hate it. There’s probably way too much detail going on throughout – everything is captioned, from hallways to meeting rooms to the type of tank to the missile used – to make it really watchable, but if you’re into that sort of thing you can properly geek-out, and see Godzilla trample and blow stuff up. It’s some people’s idea of heaven.