Godzilla Minus One
review by Bobby Blakey
There are few theatrical monsters as iconic as Japan’s Godzilla. The King of Monsters has been smashing cities since its debut in 1954 and since gone on to over 30 films as well as numerous comics, animated series, merchandise and anything else they could think of. While Godzilla is currently apart of the shared monster-verse with Kong in the US it is still firmly planted in Japanese cinemas all its own.
In 2016 the monster smashed its way back into Japanese and US theaters with the successful Shin Godzilla and was expected to bring a sequel. Instead it was back to the drawing board for an all-new iteration once again with Godzilla Minus One starring Ryunosuke Kamiki, Minami Hamabe, Sakura Ando, Kuranosuke Sasaki, and Munetaka Aoki from director Takashi Yamazaki. Was it a good plan to bring a new take to the character once again or will it fall to its own destruction?
Godzilla Minus One follows Shikishima, a surviving Kamikaze pilot who is attacked on Odo Island along with many war plane engineers by a gargantuan monster. After the engineers die due to Shikishima failing to distract the monster, an overwhelming amount of guilt weighs on him, especially after a homeless woman and a baby move into his home when he returns. Shikishima, now on a personal mission, teams up with a large group of veterans to finally take down the monster known as Godzilla.
I love all things kaiju and hence everything Godzilla. Yes, even the films that weren’t that good. There is just something about the big beast that brings a smile to my face. I have been eager to see this latest one even more so because it was heading back in time for a period piece in a time even before the original film. This offers them a chance to kind of reboot it while still sticking to its legacy and they did so to perfection.
I have always been annoyed with the human element in most of the Godzilla films as I felt they just got in the way and needed more smashing.
This time around though I found myself more engaged in their story as well and its connection deeper on dealing with not just the fear of Godzilla, but loss, anger and PTSD effects of war. It’s always so amazing how they can take something as silly as a Godzilla movie and infuse it with real life things and in this case the effects of war and shame. They could have eliminated the monster element and just made it about the war and could have still worked.
The performances are all great, but back to the truth. We are all here for Godzilla and if it’s not handled right it just falls apart. Thankfully not only did it deliver it was all kinds of awesome. They brought some new elements to the mix but infused it with the classic look and feel of Godzilla complete with the original roars and music. The moment that bass hits you feel back to the classic flicks, and I couldn’t have been happier. They even had the partially cross eyed look the original Godzilla seems to have and head shaping that makes it instantly recognizable.
I loved every aspect to this film and especially the Godzilla moments and there are plenty of them. Sure, there are ridiculous moments, but the subject matter is such. Thankfully they take it so seriously it becomes something more impactful while bringing the essence of what we love to the forefront of this outing. The ending even leaves it to more chapters which I hope we get with this version and seeing its success I can’t imagine they won’t be coming sooner than later.
Check out Godzilla Minus One in theaters now.