As a collective pile of Kaiju geeks...nationally or internationally, I'd say our thirst for massive monsters wreaking havoc upon a fairly helpless populace is a fickle one. Our American Godzilla re-imagining was a little light on the giant monster rampage and we let Hollywood know how we felt about that with middle fingers twirling about against a golden sunset like fields of wheat in a very patriotic Kid Rock music video. Pacific Rim should have been everything we ever wanted and yet, we didn't get to theaters in numbers adequate to re-ignite the giant monster wars. Instead, all we were left with was odd half-promises of a Godzillaverse and a trailer where Sam Jackson takes on a building sized King Kong WITH HIS BARE HANDS!! Really..it happened. Go check. (don't check) We continue to wait for a perfect world where once a year, someone cranks out a giant monster movie we can roll around in, but until that world becomes reality, WE HAVE SHIN GODZILLA!! The trailers were so-so...the monster design made people ask if this most evil-looking of monster kings could do anything with those tiny grabby hands...and being geeks, we mostly slagged the movie, doing our best to keep expectations low...but still..secretly...hoping. Friends, I am here to tell you.......this movie kicks a whole lot of ass...and it's not even trying that hard.
This movie takes off FAST...with a flurry of bureaucracy the likes of which we've never seen on film before...and will probably never will see again! An underwater eruption coupled with flooding of a well traveled tunnel sends our suited Japanese heroes into a frenzy of intense debate so brutally realistic, it's ridiculously hysterical. THRILL as a creature begins to reveal itself off the coast while the men and women in charge frantically relocate to bigger meeting rooms to accommodate hard core problem solving in a display so perversely civilized, you can hear the British slow clapping if you listen very hard.
Before long, the odd, twitching sea creature shimmying through the towns like a giant Magicarp begins to evolve (also like a giant Magicarp) and we realize this is not a new foe for our favorite battling lizard monster but is, in fact, GODZILLA HIMSELF!! The film's politician heroes continue fighting the good fight (ie; taking lots of meetings), now with a gentleman possessing the super masculine name Rando Yaguchi at the center of the "action" while Kayoko Ann Patterson (I shit you not) liaises for the Americans who very obviously want to blow Godzilla up so they can collect his bits and probably further the pharmaceutical industry. I don't know. What do you do with Godzilla bits anyway? Can you make a better TV out of his tail? Probably. Mysteries abound. I do want a Godzilla tail TV now. AT ANY RATE... Rando works with his team of misfits and "nerds" combing through notes left by a scientist gone missing at the site where the Godzillapalooza began, desperately trying to find a more sciency way to destroy the monster that doesn't involve leveling Tokyo. Kayoko is just super sassy and amazingly attractive while getting folks to generally do what she wants. It worked for me.
Now there IS some Godzilla action in the middle of all the thrilling suit gladhanding, and those moments (once the fucker stands up) are AMAZING. We are at once reminded that it's been quite a while since we saw a modern military force blast into full on battle (more please!!) and that you can create a Godzilla who is shockingly believable in the face of ..well..being Godzilla...by giving a lot of thought to how his signature powers work. The people in charge of assigning sounds to everything Godzilla does should get an award! Just watching Godzilla blast through buildings is worth the price of admission alone...and it's enough to forgive that the monster looks like he's done all the cocaine in the world. On the other hand. the people who decided to score scenes of this film with the old, old sounding, old orchestrated music from the original Godzilla films should be, at the very least, smacked upside the head. I understand you were looking to illicit heart bubbles from die-hard fans in attendance, but the music just feels ill placed up against such a modern film. If i'm not mistaken, it's not even remastered or re-recorded...it's the ORIGINAL music recorded however long ago...and it sounds like it.
Shin Godzilla fires out of the gate with some very unexpected laughs, poking fun of their own quagmire of bureaucratic hell where men and women will discuss the merits of evacuating sections of a city while the people in that city are running through the streets on fire, before settling into an Independance Day-esque message of national pride and shedding dependence on foreign powers who flex their muscles a little too often. Damn American bullies!! You get a Gojira that looks pretty bad ass once evolved, but as is the case from time to time, is not given much to do...at all. Still, the movie looks incredible, I found myself laughing at the most unexpected things and overall, had a damn good time. Shin Godzilla may not be the giant monster battle movie we've been hoping would rid us of the memory of the last American attempt, but it's fantastically surprising in all the right ways, proving political hilarity is still more amusing to watch than Americans continually, accidentally running into a beefy Godzilla foot.