Movie Review: Shin Godzilla (2016)

Shin Godzilla.jpg

Godzilla needs no introduction, right?

I mean, even if you’re not a fan of Godzilla movies, you know who he is. And you probably know about the current American reboot of the series, which started in 2014, included this year’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and will wrap up next year with Godzilla vs King Kong.

However, you may not be aware that a couple of years ago, Japanese filmmakers made their own original Godzilla movie, the first in over a decade.

I went into this movie not having the slightest clue what the plot was. Really, all I knew is that it was a Japanese Godzilla movie made in 2016. And I really liked it! Thanks to Julie for ordering this for me and adding it to the collection!

Since part of the fun for me was watching this without knowing too much of the plot, I don’t want to spoil too much for anyone. The general gist of the plot is that Godzilla emerges unexpectedly in Tokyo Bay, and a group of stunned, overwhelmed Japanese bureaucrats scramble to save the city.

Truthfully, the draw for me in a Godzilla movie (and I expect this is true for most people) is watching the big monster trash through cities, though it’s not something I would ever want to personally experience.

I usually don’t care about the human characters–I know I’m supposed to, but they’re usually just bland cannon fodder or walking cliches that are supposed to tug at your heartstrings. Neither approach works well for me, so I appreciated that Shin Godzilla avoids both of those pitfalls and emerges with likable protagonists I did find myself enjoying and caring about. Overall, I was impressed with the acting of the cast.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the movie’s sly sense of humor. It skewers the plodding red tape that hampers out bureaucrat heroes as they search for a solution to Godzilla stampeding through the streets of Tokyo. My favorite scene was a hilariously awkward “academic conference” they convene to address the issue.

Another reason the movie is a richer story than the prototypical disaster movie is it does a great job of developing themes about Japan’s role in the international community and its relationship with the United States. Just as the legacy of the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki loom large in the original Godzilla movies, they appear here, too, though the Fukushima nuclear disaster also clearly does, as well. These moments never came across as preachy, but they provided a much-needed backdrop for the action.

Godzilla himself in this movie took a little bit of getting used to. I watched this movie with my brother, whose a bit of a Godzilla guru, and he pointed out the design was a throwback to the originals. At first, it struck me as a bit too goofy-looking to be intimidating, but then the more I watched, the more unsettling it became.

I will point out that the movie is in Japanese and subtitled. So, if you don’t like reading subtitles, this movie isn’t for you. But if you’re a Godzilla fan or enjoy international movies, I highly recommend it. It’s a nice blend of disaster action and more thoughtful theme development. It also has an excellent accompanying soundtrack.

Are you a Godzilla fan? What’s your favorite monster movie? Do you like or dislike reading subtitles when you’re watching a movie? Tell us in the comments! As always, please follow this link to our online library catalog to find more information on this item or to place a hold.




Author: berryvillelibrary

"Our library, our future"

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