This post will be a bit different as it initially started with Awesometracks in mind but ultimately ended up as a review of the movie as well.
I was first interested in watching the film after learning that it was directed by non other than Hideaki Anno, creator of famed anime franchise Evangelion; plus, I was also watching Cinemassacre’s Godzillathon.
This was the first Japanese Godzilla movie I have ever watched and the second overall –my first one was the 2014 american version (no, the 1998 american version is not Godzilla)– and, overall, I liked the experience.
My closest experience with kaiju films had been with Power Rangers and Neon Genesis Evangelion. Power Rangers takes direct inspiration from the Super Sentai series (also a subgenre of Tokusatsu, like kaiju films), which has been popular in Japan for over 60 years. Super Sentai features some bits with rubber-suit monsters fighting a giant robot on top of a miniature set (similarly to kaiju films). On the other hand, Evangelion mixes kaijus with mechas and a psychological drama that made it stand apart as a classic franchise; being a fan of Evangelion, I was quite excited to see Anno’s take on a franchise as famous as Godzilla.
The general pacing of the movie felt alright for the most part of the film, with Godzilla receiving adequate screen time. However, I had troubles keeping up with parts of the film as scenes were fast cut and I needed to read subtitles. The plot was also straightforward and rarely I felt lost on what was happening story-wise. I should point out that, as I’m not accustomed to most Japanese media (aside from some games and anime), I found the acting a bit weird.
This movie also marked the first time that the rubber-suit was ditched in favour of a mix of CGI, puppets and animatronics for the King of Monsters; however, the effects and motion capture were done in such a way that captured the old-school feeling of past movies (at least from the bits and pieces I have seen on the Internet). Additionally, the cities certainly are miniature sets, which further increases the credibility of the action scenes.
One of the things I enjoyed about this reboot was the new origin story and the new abilities that Godzilla has at its disposal.
First of all, it’s no longer a prehistoric dinosaur or even a lizard; instead, it’s an undisclosed organism that lived at the bottom of the sea, which then mutated due to nuclear waste. Throughout the film, the monster “evolves” into several forms, adapting to correct weaknesses from previous forms. It begins as a largely unseen aquatic creature (only its tail can be seen), then it grows legs upon entering the land and later changes into an upright stance and developed fortified bones and muscles, as its previous body anatomy made it crush under its own weight. Latter forms are closer to the classic Godzilla we know.
Its signature move, the iconic Atomic Breath, looks astonishing; it begins as a flamethrower but then becomes a laser beams as it’s focused. I won’t spoil the other new attacks it uses, but it should suffice to say that it quickly learns how to repel aerial attacks.
I also found its new design to be actually great, looking like a lizard-shaped demon. Earlier stages seem uncanny and bizarre, with big fish eyes that don’t blink, and with a brownish with big red chunks body color. It looked like roasted meat. Later stages seem to be closer to black and lesser but brighter red chunks that’d turn purple as it prepares for an Atomic Breath. But, perhaps one of the weirdest things about it is its tail; Shin Godzilla’s tail is absurdly long and shaped in a weird manner, moving in unpredictable patterns as if it had life on its own.
Godzilla’s personality and raison d’être closely resemble that from the 1954’s Godzilla: an uncontrollable natural force that wrecks havoc seemingly no particular reason besides existing. While the first one represented the dangers of nuclear weapons inspired by the bombings of World War II, Shin Godzilla came just as some of Japan’s reactors almost suffered a nuclear meltdown and the country was hit by a massive earthquake. In a way, Shin Godzilla represents the terrors of modern-day society’s dependence on nuclear energy and the raw destructive power of nature.
The human aspect of the film focused on the government plans to stop this walking catastrophe. The movie painstakingly depicts and implicitly critics how bureaucratic Japan is; even when facing a massive threat as this one, everyone still operate through a strict chain of command at a pace that even seems comical.
Finally, the resolution of the film felt adequate and seems to hint at a possible sequel. There’s one particular spoiler-y scene, right before the credits cut, that definitely carries Anno’s artistic signature and, at least for me, was a throwback to Evangelion.
All in all, it was an interesting movie; it is not the best movie ever and certainly will not appeal to everyone. For me, the movie’s message works well as a standalone film and doesn’t require a sequel, but I’m looking forward to see if they can top up this one in any future sequels.
Shiro Sagisu, who previously worked with Anno when composing the soundtrack for Neon Genesis Evangelion (NGE) and Rebuild of Evangelion (RoE), was in charge of the new tracks. His participation in it is even more evident as it’s heavily inspired by RoE’s music, specially that from RoE 3.0. Even more, there are at least two tracks that come directly from NGE, something that at first felt weird as this was probably the closest thing there is to an Evangelion live-action film.
The music itself is great and can be described as ominous, featuring male vocals –it perfectly captures the terror and uncanniness of this new Godzilla. And, while the idea of having lyrics may seem weird, the effect is just right and adds an extra layer of depth to the film.
Here’s the track list::
|1||New||✓||Persecution of the masses (1172)||Based on Godzilla’s theme, it starts with a solo piano that latter is accompanied of other instruments|
|2||✓||Godzilla comes ashore / [GODZILLA]|
|4||New||Early morning from Tokyo (short)||A light-hearted song that sounds pretty much like elevator music.|
|5||New||11174_light_edit_demo||Makes heavy use of drums.|
|6||New||EM20_rhythm_GZM||Remixes of Evangelion’s Decisive Battle track|
|8||return of GODZILLA / [KING KONG VS GODZILLA]|
|9||GODZILLA reappears / [TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA]|
|10||New||✓||Black Angels (Fob_10_1211)|
|12||New||✓||Defeat is no option (1197)|
|13||New||✓||Who will know (24_bigslow)||Part of the ending lyrics says “As long as breath comes from my mouth I may yet stand the slightest chance. A shaft of light is all I need to cease the darkness killing me.” That sounds pretty much like the Atomic Breath!|
|14||New||SS_103_GZM (Famously)||Pretty sure this is also from Rebuild of Evangelion 3.0|
|15||New||EM20_Godzilla||Tracks 15, 16, 17 and 18 are remixes, like tracks 6 & 7|
|19||Battle in Outer Space / [Battle in Outer Space]||Sounds like a military march|
|20||New||Under a Burning Sky (11174_battle)|
|21||New||Under a Burning Sky (11174_orchestra)|
|22||New||Omni_00||The calm after the storm|
|23||✓||GODZILLA TITLE / [GODZILLA]||The original theme song. Majestic, threatening and everlasting. One of the best themes ever|
|24||✓||MAIN TITLE / [GHIDHORA, THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER]|
|25||MAIN TITLE / [Invasion of Astro-Monster] (Version 1)|
|26||✓||MAIN TITLE / [INVASION OF ASTRO MONSTER] (Version 2)||The last two tracks are remixes of track 19, Battle in Outer Space|
The soundtrack is not as prolific as I’d expected but it gets the job done and features some tracks that I really enjoy listening over and over again. The music is easily one of the best things of the movie, carrying some of its weight. I just hope future sequels keep the good work.
Featured image taken from Reddit.