When a strange creature emerges from Tokyo Bay, the prime minister and his cabinet discuss the course of actions on how to stop this giant destructive force, known colloquially as Gojira, based on the nickname the American military have bequeathed him, Godzilla.
If you go into this film expecting a huge monster fighting other monsters or the military in high octane action set pieces, you’ll be sorely disappointed. This is a slow burn political thriller that just so happens to be set around the world’s most famous Kaiju, Godzilla. That doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting though, the political discussions are gripping with every cabinet member, foreign affairs, defense, etc. all arguing for their opinion on what to do with such a terrifying threat unlike the world has seen before.
Not everyone is a fantastic actor in the film, but during these secretive meetings and discussions, the atmosphere is very tense and every word is gripping. The film easily gets the audience invested in the situation without question. It draws a lot of comparisons to ‘12 Angry Men’ which is a huge compliment for the film. The politics and science are far more captivating than watching a big lumbering monster waddle around Tokyo destroying buildings.
There are a few different designs of Godzilla shown throughout the film and the very first we’re introduced to is this dopey looking slithering mess of flesh, which as you can imagine, while huge, isn’t as intimidating as everyone knows Godzilla is supposed to be. As the forms progress Godzilla becomes more of a threat and more scary, however in all of his forms, he has these huge white googly eyes. It’s hilarious to see this force of destruction walk around with huge white eyes and big black pupils, it looks like a cartoon.
The CGI effects vary, in some places Godzilla looks pretty good, in others the effects look awful. Though this is to be expected when the budget for the film isn’t huge and it isn’t a Hollywood film. The lumbering, shuffling of Godzilla’s feet when he walks, ironically slow the films pacing down exponentially, compared to the fast talking, passionate politicians trying to save their beloved city.
The little digs at America and their super-hero complex was very enjoyable, in fact all the dialogue was brilliant. It was informative on what might happen in a boardroom filled with politicians when something devastating happens to a country, but also managed to maintain audience interest throughout. There’s hints of a romantic subplot that are thankfully never followed through with.
Shin Godzilla is a political film filled with passionate characters arguing and discussing this otherworldly creature. There’s very few Godzilla scenes and the film is better without it. ‘12 Angry Men’ meets ‘Contagion’, with a unique Japanese twist.