Shin Gojira / Godzilla Resurgence (2016) - A more contemporary, mature and realistic interpretation of the greatest monster franchise in the history of cinema - 8/10 (21/01/17)
''Shin Gojira'' marks a triumphant comeback for the most famous monster in the history of cinema. This Toho reboot is the first movie in the Japanese franchise since ''Godzilla: Final Wars'' twelve years earlier. Just like the American reboot which was simply entitled ''Godzilla'', the new Japanese film also manages to fit the legendary monster in a contemporary setting. While the American movie focused on the consequences of a nuclear catastrophe in the key of Fukushima, the Japanese film imagines what would happen if Godzilla attacked Japan today. ''Shin Godzilla'' is a mixture of science-fiction action entertainment and political drama study.
That's why most parts of the movie can be seen as surprisingly realistic. The film follows Japan's Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary and how he and his fellow politicians deal with the unexpected attack of a resilient monstrosity. Heated discussions about the origins of the monster, an appropriate way to deal with media and public and the question whether to accept to attack the monster with a nuclear bomb or to speculate on a risky alternative strategy are the main topics in this film. Despite a big cast, some actresses and actors manage to stand out and carry this movie. Hasegawa Hiroki convinces as brave, diplomatic and smart lead actor. Ishihara Satomi has an interesting role as Special Envoy for the President of the United States and portrays an ambitious, extroverted and glamorous young woman who adds some spice to a cast that mostly centers around more conservative male characters. The roles of two different prime ministers are portrayed interestingly as well. The first one seems shocked by the events but determined to control and defeat Godzilla. The second one feels disenchanted and powerless and since his leadership is lacking, a team of young politicians and scientists try everything they can to find a strategy to defeat what seems to be an unbeatable monster.
The movie convinces with this more contemporary, mature and realistic touch showing us the social, scientific and political impacts of Godzilla's unexpected arrival. On the other side, the monster itself is also quite intriguing because it's constantly mutating and changing its appearance and capacities. This makes Godzilla unpredictable and scarier than ever before. Godzilla is far away from being a pitiable or even sympathetic protagonist but a brutal and pitiless antagonist. The monster is taller and stronger than ever, its eyes look evil and its large mouth with its sharp teeth looks like an entrance into hell. The special effects in the movie are efficient and never look too unrealistic which adds a lot to the depressing atmosphere and dramatic vibe of the movie leading to a spectacular showdown. These great executions make the viewers forget that the outcome of the story is actually quite predictable right from the start and that the plot is a little bit too pathetic and patriotic at times.
One point people might argue about is that Godzilla doesn't have as much screening time as in many movies from the past. It's not as blatant as in the last American movie where Godzilla would only appear in the second half of the film but it's true that slightly below two thirds of the movie focus indeed on the political drama study while slightly above one third offers science-fiction action entertainment. On the other side, this was already the case in the very first Godzilla movie which is without a doubt the best in franchise history and what worked well back then also works out in the present. The action sequences might be shorter but have a powerful effect while the characters and the story have enough depth to carry the film and make the viewers care about it. One should also note that this is the first Japanese Godzilla movie since the first one that only features Godzilla and no other monsters.
In the end, ''Shin Godzilla'' isn't an excellent but still a very good Japanese comeback of the world's greatest monster in the history of cinema. I would put this movie in the bottom of my top ten list of the greatest Godzilla movies which is a quite good result considering I'm a fan since my early childhood and that there are thirty-two Godzilla movies so far. Those who are looking for a more realistic, mature and contemporary interpretation of the famous franchise will like this movie and hope for a potential sequel in the near future.
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