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Shin Godzilla

Opening Date
25 Aug 2016
PG Some Violence
120 mins
Japanese with English & Chinese subtitles
Action, Adventure, Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi
Hideaki Anno
Hiroki Hasegawa, Yutaka Takenouchi, Satomi Ishihara
An unknown source causes a catastrophic accident in the tunnels of the Tokyo Bay Aqua Line, leading to irreparable damage and massive flooding. An emergency cabinet meeting is ordered to salvage the situation and discover the cause of the accident. Soon after, a gigantic creature emerges and rampages through town after town, much to everyone’s horror. How will Japan deal with this gigantic “monster” that they know nothing about?
By Freddy  23 Aug 2016
Movie-goers who expect Shin Godzilla to be a brainless action romp would be disappointed. This movie is more often a political drama than a typical kaiju (monster) movie, and that is a good thing.
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Hollywood, this is how you do a reboot.

Godzilla is the longest continuously running movie franchise in the world, with over 30 movies produced (including Hollywood adaptations) over 62 years. Therefore, it is a relief that Shin Godzilla succeeds in breathing a fresh air into the franchise.

Shin Godzilla is a complete reboot of the franchise, ignoring even the 1954 film. Godzilla is seen for the very first time in a contemporary Japan. The film closely follows the efforts of the Japanese government in dealing with an unknown indestructible threat.

Shin Godzilla harkens back to the heavily political tone of the 1954 film. While the the first Godzilla was a giant metaphor of the nuclear destruction in a post-war Japan, this reboot reminds us of the nuclear disasters Japan faced in 2011.

Those who expect Shin Godzilla to be a brainless action romp would be disappointed. This movie is more often a political drama than a typical kaiju (monster) movie, and that is a good thing.

The political conflicts lend a sense of realism that grounds the movie. The government constantly considers evacuation of civilians as a priority, faces inevitable foreign interventions, and handles differing agendas from various parties. Taking the viewpoint of the government might be difficult for the audience to relate to, but the movie opens a window into the intricacies of the modern international political landscape.

The main protagonist, Rando Yaguchi (Hiroki Hasegawa), is the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japanese government. He is a rebellious do-gooder, but his motivations and backstory are never fleshed out. He does not seem to have any friend or family member and exists solely to represent the audience’s point of view.  He is an effective but uninteresting audience surrogate.

On the other hand, Kayoco Anne Patterson (Satomi Ishihara), a US representative in the Godzilla incident, is a more well-rounded character. She provides a distinct voice to foreign intervention and allows the film to closely explore the relationship between the two governments. Her character’s cheerful disposition contrasts with the serious attitudes of other characters, providing a break to the serious tone of the film. The inner conflict between her US loyalty versus her Japanese heritage proves to be interesting.

The cinematography appears sloppy at the beginning, switching rapidly between found-footage shots, civilians’ viewpoints, and the government’s reactions in an awkward pace. It gradually improves as the movie progresses, but the special effects leave more to be desired. Although Godzilla looks sufficiently alive, grand, and menacing, it is often painfully obvious that Godzilla is destroying miniature buildings. Movie-goers is likely to demand a more realistic depiction in 2016.

After the absence of any Toho-produced Godzilla movie in over 10 years, Shin Godzilla’s strength as a reboot lies in managing a balancing act between being a homage to the 1954 film while staying relevant to the contemporary setting. It will be appreciated by both fans of the franchise and the people watching their first Godzilla movie.
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By Yian Lu  23 Aug 2016
Definitely thumbs up for the concept of having Godzilla in modern-day Japan. The reboot adds a refreshing touch highlighting the behind-the-scenes during national crisis.
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This 2016 reboot, simply put, is a 1954 character in modern-day Japan. Emphasis on modern-day. You would think that with our current technology and powerful weapons, we can fight any prehistoric monster. What kind of tough fight would it put up? Quite unexpectedly, the reboot is nothing short of intriguing. It has differentiated itself by focusing on the behind-the-scenes, the things that went on behind every decision a country makes, as opposed to stereotypical battles either with or against the iconic gigantic monster.

The Good
As with most Japanese movies and dramas, their ability to reflect societal issues, or political ones in this case, never fails to awe. With a contemporary setting, Shin Godzilla brings out some potential problems that the current Japan, who is forbidden to have a military, may face. This leads to the next question, which is also the dilemma when dealing with Godzilla: what then classifies as self-defense, especially when the threat comes from something, living or not, that is not homo sapiens?

In addition, Shin Godzilla highlights the paradox of democracy — red tape during a national crisis. The supposed two hours Godzilla was rampaging through the streets while the government sourced for possible solutions, felt like a day’s time. Swift actions should have been employed but instead ran through a series of authorities before attacks and evacuations can be executed. Not forgetting to mock at or take pity on the incompetent Prime Minister for having to “make” the tough decisions.

The reboot also plays on Japan’s relations with the U.S. and as a representative, Satomi Ishihara, who portrays Kayoko Ann Patterson, showcased her wonderful grasp of the English dialogues. People who are not familiar with the Japanese language may not be able to tell. But Ishihara’s deliberate foreign accent in her Japanese, coupled with her eloquent English, give depth to her character.

Godzilla in this reboot is the largest of all that existed. But it is not towering at 118.5m just because. The movie progressed with the explanation that Godzilla was evolving and adapting, and would go through a number of stages having consumed the nuclear waste dumped on the ocean bed. As such, Godzilla’s first appearance may look nothing like the King of Monsters we know, but rest assured, the lizard-looking creature is still “God’s incarnation”.

The (Not That) Bad
Godzilla emerged out from the waters of Tokyo Bay and subsequently made its way inland towards Tokyo. When you think of Tokyo, the most representative structures would be Tokyo Tower or the relatively new Tokyo Skytree. But the movie featured neither. One of the battles took place at the less iconic Tokyo Station instead.

And The Summary
Definitely thumbs up for the concept of having Godzilla in modern-day Japan. The reboot adds a refreshing touch highlighting the behind-the-scenes during national crisis.
read less
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