It’s been 12 long years since the last Toho Godzilla film, Godzilla Final Wars, and after that somewhat entertaining debacle, Shin Godzilla (Godzilla Resurgence) is a welcome return to form. Director Hideaki Anno, of Neon Genesis Evangelion fame, tackles the film with a deft hand and an understanding that proves that the property couldn’t be better suited for him. The result is a surprisingly political film very much in the vein of the original 1954 Godzilla. Anno has made Godzilla intimidating again.
Anno delivers a largely entertaining Godzilla film, despite the amount of politics involved. The film takes jabs at how ineffective the government can be when it’s hamstrung by bureaucratic red tape and special interests, while also highlighting that Post WWII Japan is never ending. I know this all sounds like a slog, and to an extent it can be. If you’re just looking for an action film, you’ll leave very disappointed. This is an understandable reaction as most people have forgotten that Godzilla began as a cerebral and topical film. It was the sequels that devolved Godzilla into little more than a monster mash.
The political nature does move the film along quickly until the third act. It’s both humorous and grating, and manages to feel necessary all the while conveying Annos point across effectively. The only issue is that it goes on for about 15 minutes too long during the third act, leaving me clamoring for something other than a boardroom. When Godzilla finally does rear his head, it really is a sight to behold.
Annos’ Godzilla is very different from any of its predecessors, but still manages to carry on the spirit that makes the monster so interesting. Godzilla starts as a lizard fish hybrid and evolves into something similar to the titanic lizard we’ve come to expect. Whereas past Godzillas’ have typically been everything from a hungry force of nature, too even your best friend and protector of the universe, this Godzilla feels like it is pure evil. He constantly gushes blood in an effort to cool himself and has more than a handful of tricks up its sleeve when it comes time to battle.
In an effort to not spoil too much, I will say that the effort to take down Godzilla at the end of the film is incredibly thoughtful and not something I would have ever expected. More films should definitely take note because it certainly provides an exciting, yet wholly unique take on fighting Godzilla, where only perfect execution and sacrifice are effective.
Shin Godzilla is a good, almost great Godzilla film. It never quite reaches the heights of the original film, but it does manage to stand on its own. The two films have several parallels. While the 1954 film preyed on the fears in a post-nuclear bomb Japan, Shin Godzilla capitalizes on the fear of the Fukashima reactor.