Over the weekend I had the…”pleasure”…of getting to see one of the very limited screenings of Shin Godzilla (Godzilla Resurgenge) at a small local theatre called FilmBar. It was a perfect venue for viewing a movie like this. Shin Godzilla was made by Toho, the company that made all the original Godzilla films. The theatre was very small and intimate as there were only maybe 4 or 5 rows of seats in a small room with speakers on tables place around the floor and a couple actually mounted to the walls on either side of the theatre. The volume of the speakers was tremendous for the room size which for me…for a movie like this…was perfect. I actually overheard one of the employees working there asking one of the other patrons if the speakers were too loud after the movie, nope, not for me! Other than the toddler whining and crying a bit in the back row (who the fuck brings a small child to an 11:55pm showing of ANY movie) the viewing of the movie was pretty un-interrupted by chatter which to me, when I’m trying to actually focus on a movie, is pretty important.
*SPOILERS ABOUND! YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!*
The story of the movie takes place in what looks to be present day Japan. I don’t recall any date being shown anywhere in the beginning of the movie, which is fairly common place in most Godzilla films. The intro setting takes place over an area of water just off the shore of Japan, a large plume of steam is rising from the water and its source is unknown. The disruption is causing massive flooding in underwater roadways and various governmental groups are scrambling to try to figure out the source of the problem. One of the younger staff members sees what appears to be a part of an aquatic animals body rising out of the water but the senior staff members wave this off as a joke. The steam slows down a bit and the staff tries to determine if the cause of it was from an underwater volcano or just an geothermic plume of heat causing the steam. They quickly realize the next day that the younger staff member was right as Godzilla begins to emerge from the water, all that is shown at first is its dorsal fins on its back. Godzilla remains underwater for several minutes, plowing its way through a small canal towards land, all we see at first is a massive pile of boats being shoved forward through the canal and once Godzilla reaches land…this is what we’re greeted with…
I. Shit. You. Not. Imagine if you cut off Godzillas arms, made its legs stumpy and mostly useless, and slapped some big ass googly eyes on it. That’s our first image of Godzilla in this movie. The theatre was roaring in laughter, I was sitting there mostly feeling embarrassed because I’m a huge Godzilla fan, have been since I was young, and this was just ridiculous. It was then understood that we would see Godzilla go through a few evolutions and this was the first incarnation we were seeing. I cannot recall a Godzilla movie ever having the monster appear as anything other than its full grown self, but I guess sometimes something new is needed. This…thing…wiggled its way through the streets for a while causing chaos, we see it try to lift itself up once only to fall back down onto a building then finally stand up and hold itself up for a bit, then it was cut away to a different scene. We never see Godzilla return to the ocean in this scene but in dialogue we understand that it retreated for a while to cool its body down after it goes through an evolution to grow arms and size in general. Now I have to point out that this movie is largely focused on the politics behind dealing with Godzilla. There are many scenes of various governmental organizations talking, meeting, holding press conferences while trying to figure out how to respond to this attack. Planning behind how to evacuate people, how the military should respond, how military response will be looked at by Japans allies, how the military will attack if an attack is made, and lastly trying to get help from foreign allies. The response seems very realistic in how it should be handled but the attack response feels like it takes several days just based on all the meetings and various planning phases and projects they work on, stuff that doesn’t look like it could be accomplished within hours seems to somehow get done while Godzilla is terrorizing various cities.
Shin Godzilla, unlike almost every other Godzilla movie, has no other monsters. This leaves us to wonder why Godzilla came onto land, as it normally emerges to help defend the planet from some other form of kaiju. Godzilla seems to be set on some form of path, but to what, we never find out. I figured perhaps we would learn that Godzilla was making its way to a nuclear facility to feed off of more radioactive materials but that kind of destination is never revealed to us so we are left to wonder where its trying to get to. We never learn about any other monsters on earth, or why Godzilla came onto land so its all a bit perplexing.
Godzilla has some new attacks in this movie that I personally have never seen before. We are already accustomed to Godzillas trademark attack, the atomic breath. We have seen this in pretty much every Godzilla movie to date and this one is no different. However in this movie we see a few new attacks in the arsenal. Godzilla seems to have various stages of intensity for the atomic breath attack this time around. In the initial attack stage it seems the atomic breath is mostly fire based, and the level of destruction is immense. Godzillas jaw splits in half to open up for the attack, reminding me very much of the way the jaws of the vampries in Blade 2 split open. The fire when aimed at the ground seems to spread for miles which is a much more widespread damage area than we are used to seeing. Its almost akin to the level of destruction from the ships in Independence Day. It seems as though theres a gauge of power being exerted by Godzilla, the atomic breath starts as a big flame but when it hits a critical point it changes into a finely focused beam of atomic laser energy that reaches for miles ripping through anything that comes in its path. Also new to this movie is a dorsal fin laser blast, various beams of atomic energy shoot out of Godzillas back towards the sky, almost making Godzilla look like some sort of laser light show porcupine. Godzilla also now shoots an atomic laser blast out of its tail now as well, to add to the range of attacks. I was going to post a youtube clip showing all the various attacks but it looks like the account that posted it has been shut down…damn you internet police. Heres a few pictures I was able to pull off the internet showing these various attacks.
All in all, Shin Godzilla is a decent refresh by Toho. The story gets pretty deep into the politics of dealing with a catastrophe that a government was never prepared to deal with, the screen time for Godzilla is way more than I recall seeing in any past Godzilla movie that wasn’t made by Toho so that was definitely a welcomed change. Definitely worth a watch for any Godzilla fan.