Shin Godizlla is the first Toho Godzilla movie since Final Wars. There was some doubt that it would even have a US theatrical release. And the US theatrical release is heart-wrenchingly brief. Just three days, in a very limited number of theaters across the US. And those three days were in the middle of a workweek: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday October 11, 12 and 13 respectively.
Shin Godzilla is not dubbed. It’s subtitled. There has been almost no marketing campaign for this movie. All of that being said: It was amazing! I was left speechless. Even now, almost 24 hours later when I try to describe it my first words are, “Oh my god! Holy Kow!” I still find myself at a loss for words when trying to describe it to my friends and family. It was emotionally gripping. The tone started out a bit suspenseful and transitioned smoothly to crisis before going to ominous.
There are several scenes that have really stuck with me and the impact of the whole was wholly engrossing and drew the audience into the story. It was one of those rare movies that engages the viewer on all levels: Emotionally, intellectually and on a primal level.
It is a thinking movie, and the viewer feels at times empathy for the people of Japan, the characters portrayed, and also for Godzilla. The end is appropriately horrifying and ominous. There is a sense of helpless inevitability to watching Godzilla destroy large swaths of Tokyo. At first the King of the Monsters isn’t even trying to destroy things; he’s just huge and walking through a densely built city.
The movie is fast-paced and very dense, yet not oppressive. It is a horror story, and a story of the human spirit. It is also political and environmental. It follows the classic format of so many Godzilla stories, updated, rebooted, made new.
Writer and Director Hideaki Anno along with fellow director Shinji Higuchi capture the soul of Godzilla and bring it to life on the screen. There are so many, intelligent, thoughtful details that elevate this movie and demonstrate the qualities that have sustained Godzilla as the King of the Monsters for 63 years now that I cannot name them all. I will say that Godzilla now has inner eyelids and they are Blast Shields! Brilliant!
Shin Godzilla is brilliant, thoughtfully made and visually impactful. Every scene adds to the whole, which like a concerto, starts small and grows to a crescendo. Shin Godzilla makes the conscious decision to spend time on the horror, on the details. The story and excellent job done by the cast give the viewer insight into what it means to evacuate a city the size of Tokyo. The viewer feels the quiet, and sometimes not so quiet, desperation of the main characters need to save the citizens and the nation as this new and unprecedented threat wreaks havoc.
This is a movie that was clearly, lovingly crafted, thoughtfully written and with such attention to detail paid that I could watch it 50 times and still find something new to appreciate. I will say that I saw all of the trailers released for Shin Godzilla. I even saw a couple of video clips that were supposedly spoilers– which I normally try to avoid but I was so excited about this move that I gave in to temptation once or twice– and I was still surprised by many things in the movie. Basically the movie is so well done, the story line so complex and tight that even the “spoilers” I saw didn’t really spoil anything. I’m glad I got to see it on the big screen. This is a movie where that really makes a difference in its impact upon the viewer. I really hope there is a region 1 DVD release. This is easily one of my favorite Godzilla movies, if not my new favorite.
Editor’s Note: If you missed the showing last week and live in a larger city, don’t fret. Some locations are reshowing this week on Tuesday October 18th.