Fantastic Fest 2016 Review: SHIN GODZILLA

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 2.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

Going into this film, I was filled with anticipation and excitement, since this latest take on the lovable kaiju was produced by Toho, the Japanese company where Godzilla originated.  Following the screening, on the other hand, I left somewhat disappointed.  The newest version of Gojira, titled Shin Godzilla does offer a more modern and realistic take on a kaiju attack on Tokyo, but one that lacks the level of fun, excitement and joy that the classic movies have to offer.

In modern day Tokyo, a strange phenomenon captures the attention of the government and scientists.  Some unknown force causes a massive fountain of water to arise from the ocean.  As scientists and government officials attempt to make sense of it, their questions are soon answered as a giant beast arises from the water and charges on land, destroying everything in its path.  As the officials fight through the bureaucracy and red tape to get things done, the giant reptile starts evolving and poses an even greater threat to the city.

Written and directed by Hideko Anno and co-written by Shinji Higuchi, Shin Godzilla is a very different beast from previous Godzillas.  Though the movie is fun and amusing at times because of its sharp satire and commentary on government inefficacy, the Godzilla, most movie audiences know and love, is completely absent.  This monster is a mindless creature with no personality whatsoever.  Though the movie does offer some intense action, destruction, and battles between humans and the creature, these sequences lack the fun and excitement that the classic movies have.  Even Gareth Edwards’s Americanized version, though problematic, treated audiences to more thrilling action sequences and kaiju versus kaiju fighting.  I’m afraid that, in their attempts to give audiences more realism, the filmmakers are taking the material way too seriously for their own good.

Shin Godzilla is currently playing a limited engagement in select theaters.

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