Shin Godzilla

Shin Godzilla ★★★½

The Kaiju King makes his return to Tokyo with a very distinct voice. As this was my first Japanese Godzilla film, it took some adjustment. The rapid editing style is fluid, but undoubtedly harsh in its opening minutes. Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi's direction is gorgeous; their camera is dominant, remaining strong and clear as we bounce from shot to shot. The film demands your attention - especially if you're not a Japanese speaker - cramming almost every frame with detail.

As so much of Shin Godzilla is political reactions, there's a swarm of bodies in every scene. You rarely see just one character alone. This is a film that explores unity, how individuals are able (or unable) to work together. All the way through to its devastating final shot, this is a picture of power - humans in high-up positions confronted with "God incarnate".

For those that aren't yet aware, the presence of our titular kaiju is pretty minimal; its actions drive the plot, but our focus is almost entirely on diplomacy. Godzilla works far better here when it's barely seen (further proof that Gareth Edwards really was onto something with his 2014 American reboot). Its initial form in the film is, honestly, laughable - the googly eyes and sloppy animation are the opposite of frightening. Further evolution of the character fares better, but the more classic-looking Godzilla that emerges is still far too stiff. The attempts to retain classic looks and sounds clash with the rest of the film, nostalgic as they may be.

However, Shin Godzilla is quite effective at making you feel the impact of destruction. This is a nearly impossible task in this current cinematic climate; countless cities have been obliterated countless times. But because the government frequently place citizens as priorities, the sight of buildings crumbling hit hard. Just a shame that the monster plowing through them is often unconvincing.

Despite the dense introduction, this is a film worth sticking with; it's tinged with a satirical flair, exposing many of its officials as largely incompetent. Because I'm not well-versed in Japan as a nation, I'm sure there's a lot of political subtext I missed. But the film is universal enough that the exploration of collaboration in crisis can be understood anywhere.

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