Ok, so by now any of you reading this should know that I am a huge goddamn fan of Godzilla. I grew up watching the movies, bought any toys I could find, even pretended to be Godzilla in my youth. I shake with excitement at any news regarding one of my favorite franchises. So imagine just how excited I was when it was revealed that Toho, the original studio of the Godzilla films, was making another entry in the series. I went into full media blackout in regards to this film. I wanted to go in knowing as little as possible. For the most part I succeeded, there were a few slip ups in regards to certain aspects, but by and large I was able to avoid any plot details that could have dampened my experience.
I recently was able to see the new film during its limited release in North America. For me personally that shit was bonkers. I loved this movie. It could be because I’m a hugely biased Godzilla fan, but I don’t believe that to be true. This was not just a good Godzilla movie; this was a good movie that happened to have Godzilla in it. I don’t think I could say enough good things. It was clear that the people who were making this movie really put the time and effort into ensuring this film not only did justice to Godzilla but also to the other characters present. While everyone who had anything to do with the making of this movie deserves props for it, a lot of credit has to go to the director, Hideaki Anno. While I didn’t know this initially Hideaki Anno was the director of the series Evangelion (never a bad thing). That fact alone gave me great confidence going into this film. There were a great number of things that Anno did in this film that harkened back to the older Godzilla films while also enough new additions to make the film standout on its own.
Now, I really want to go into extreme detail about everything in this movie. However, there are people I know that would like to remain in the dark until they have a chance to see it. With that in mind I’m going to do a short summary on the things that really stood out for me while being as vague as possible.
1. Is it a monster movie: Quick answer is no. What surprised me the most was that this film was not presented as a straight monster movie, which may seem strange considering how this is a Godzilla movie after all. Instead, rather than be a monster movie this film was presented as a natural disaster movie. The scenes of destruction to the images of the aftermath call to mind the images you’d see on the news after a hurricane or a tornado. It was chilling at times to see how the devastation in the movie closely resembled the disasters of today. There are certain shots in the movie that look like they were lifted out of the news and put into the movie. I really liked this take on Godzilla. He wasn’t an evil force, he didn’t have a vendetta against humanity, he was just a force of nature. Godzilla was more depicted like a hurricane than a monster, destroying anything in his path, but with no evil intentions, just nature. What was also interesting was the depiction of how the government worked during the crisis. I won’t go into too much depth right now, but it was certainly an interesting, if not accurate, representation.
2. Scale: Oh boy, did Godzilla ever look big. I mean really big. Impressively big. Just, goddamn was he big. And scary too. Just really big and really scary. Hideaki Anno really hit it out of the park with the physical appearance of Godzilla, he looked enormous. He effectively used camera angles to show just how giant Godzilla was. Throughout the movie Anno used various techniques, even what appeared to be cellphone footage at one point, to really convey the size of Godzilla. There were many low angle shots from the people on the ground looking up at Godzilla which were very well done. However, perhaps the best example of the size of Godzilla is when he isn’t even the focus of the shot. The scene would be two or more characters discussing something important to the plot (trying really hard to keep out spoilers) and you would just see Godzilla in the background. He’s not the focus of the shot, but you just can’t help but notice him. It was incredible to see how even when he’s not taking an active part you just can’t ignore Godzilla.
3. Tone: Hideaki Anno did an incredible tightrope act with the tone of this film. As with any Godzilla movie there is an overriding sense of fear and despair. It’s easy to see why. There is a giant rampaging monster tearing through the country that can’t be stopped. However, like I said before, this is a natural disaster. So instead, the helplessness and despair feels right, that sense of unease in the face of nature, which was an interesting thing. While at times it was dark and seemingly hopeless it never strayed too far down that path. While there were certainly times of despair there were more than enough moments of humor to balance it out. Now like the sense of darkness the humor never took over too much. What I really like about the humor of this movie was that it never became overbearing. In fact much of the humor was unintentional on the characters’ part. While we the audience might find the situation or the delivery of a line funny, it was not meant to be that way to the people in the film. The people in the film don’t know they’re being funny, which was the perfect way to put humor in a movie like this. Despite all of this, there is an underlying sense of hope throughout most of the movie. Much like many other natural disasters there is the sense that things will get better. That shows many times throughout as various characters come together to try and solve this problem.
4. Soundtrack: The soundtrack on this movie is haunting at times. Every song feels appropriate for the scene it is in. This will be a short part because there isn’t much else left to say. The soundtrack was damn near perfect. But the standout piece is the original theme to Godzilla. Not a remix, not a new version; the actual original score from the first ever Godzilla movie. It was a nice touch that further cemented this as a true Godzilla film.
5. The Atomic Breath: Holy shit. Just……Holy shit. That was crazy. I can’t say too much more about it here. You need to see that for yourself. Just, god damn. That may be the most utterly devastating version of the atomic breath I have ever seen. Just….wow.