Movie Review: Shin Godzilla

Madman Films

Shin Godzilla will be screening in select New Zealand cinemas this Labour Weekend

Shin Godzilla  (M, 121 mins)   Directed by Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi  ★★★ 

Clearly Japan still hasn't forgiven America for the sacrilegious way it treated one of their country's icons.

The hurt caused by Roland Emmerich's awful 1998 Godzilla adaptation is surely one reason why the United States is portrayed in such a poor light in this delightfully nutty reboot of the long-running monster mayhem series.

Not only are they more than ready to nuke Tokyo to stop the ancient aquatic species-meets-radioactive waste hybrid from crossing the Pacific, but their envoy is a clearly Japanese woman who has aspirations to be the next US President (and how many of us now wish Kayoko Ann Patterson was a real candidate in this current election).

The "terror of Tokyo" is back in Shin Godzilla.

The "terror of Tokyo" is back in Shin Godzilla.

* Godzilla director Gareth Edwards on why nature scares us
* Film review: Godzilla

The 30th official outing (Emmerich's movie isn't considered canon, but Gareth Edwards' 2014 Hollywood blockbuster is) of Toho's"Gojira", Shin Godzilla is set in the present day and focuses on the Government response to what is an increasingly desperate disaster. Initially written off as undersea volcanic activity or a marauding nuclear sub, an aquatic explosion turns out to be the work of a large marine creature which then proceeds to emerge from the harbour and begin stomping around downtown. Worse still, any attempts to use firepower simply transform it into something even more powerful and deadly.

It's hard not to see anime specialist Hideaki Anno and master-of-disaster Shinji Higuchi's tale as an allegory of the 2011 Japanese earthquakes and their fallout. Government officials flounder and flail, while social media rules as an official source of information.

Like its new "motion-captured" Godzilla, the film itself morphs from Cloverfield-esque point-of-view story to a political black comedy reminiscent of The Thick of It (the caretaker Prime Minister is more worried about soggy noodles than the destruction raining down on his capital city), before evolving into a more traditional disaster movie.

And despite the modern day trappings, both the bombastic, operatic music and intense performances are warm homages and gentle mockery of the series' 1950s origins. 

It's silliness (or its subtitles) won't be for everyone, but after so many serious sci-fi movies it's nice to see a bit of fun put back into the genre.

In English, and Japanese and German with English subtitles.

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