Monday, December 27, 2021

#2,683. Shin Godzilla (2016) - Godzilla / Kong Mini-Marathon


The 29th Godzilla film released by Toho and the third attempt by the studio to reboot the series, 2016’s Shin Godzilla stands apart from all previous entries by way of its unique approach, putting the focus squarely on the government and military responses to the sudden appearance of a very destructive – and immensely powerful – giant monster.

While investigating an abandoned yacht in Tokyo Bay, a Japanese Coast Guard vessel is inexplicably destroyed. An emergency meeting is called by the government to discuss this tragedy, during which Deputy Secretary Yaguchi (Hiroki Hasegawa) tells the Prime Minister (Ren Osugi) and the rest of his cabinet that he believes a sea creature is to blame.

Though dismissed at first, Secretary Yaguchi’s theory is proven valid when an enormous reptilian creature surfaces, trouncing through Tokyo’s densely populated Kamata District before retreating back into the sea.

As officials are scrambling to determine what this creature is and when it might attack again, the monster suddenly reappears. What’s more, it is evolving, getting larger and more powerful by the minute.

U.S. Special Envoy Kayoko Anne Patterson (Satomi Ishihara) informs the Japanese Prime Minister and his team that a scientist named Goro Maki had been studying the mutating effects of radioactivity right up to the moment he mysteriously disappeared (it was Goro Maki’s yacht that was found abandoned in Tokyo Bay). Maki believed it was very likely that a giant creature would eventually appear in Japan, and he dedicated his life to finding a way to stop it.

As the rest of the government is preparing for a mass evacuation of Tokyo, Secretary Yaguchi assembles a team of experts to examine Maki’s research, hoping it will shed some light on how best to destroy the monster – which Maki named “Godzilla” – before it levels Japan.

Directed by Hideaki Anno (who also penned the screenplay) and Shinji Higuchi, Shin Godzilla takes us inside conference rooms and laboratories, where we eavesdrop on government officials and scientists as they try to make sense out of what’s happening in Japan. Shot in a way that keeps the tension at a fever pitch, these meetings have an energy all their own, and are usually quite fascinating.

But like most films in the series, Shin Godzilla owes most of its bad-assness to Godzilla himself. When he first crawls out of the water, lumbering through the Kamata District on all fours with blood pouring from the gills in his neck, Godzilla is a force to be reckoned with. Then, without warning, he stands, and is walking upright. We watch as the big guy evolves throughout Shin Godzilla, changing from a clumsy monster into something resembling a titan of ancient mythology (the scene where Godzilla first unleashes his ability to breathe fire is awe-inspiring, and is one of my favorite sequences in the entire series).

The behind-the-scenes summits and conferences keep the movie rolling along at a nice pace, but it’s Godzilla who makes Shin Godzilla such a remarkably entertaining motion picture.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10

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