When I was around 5 or 6, I remember renting out a Betamax tape called Godzilla vs. Mecha-Godzilla. Ever since then, I became enamored by the King of Monsters. There was just something about a huge, destructive lizard/dinosaur creature stomping around an urban area that appealed to me as a youngster. However, Toho, the original producer of all things Godzilla, had stopped making films featuring the titular monster; the last movie they made was the fantastic, gloriously over-the-top and kaiju filled Godzilla: Final Wars.
But it looks like Toho decided to dust off the IP with the success of the fairly recent US produced film. They recently released Godzilla: Resurgence (Shin Godzilla in Japan) here in the Philippines. And, as a huge fan, I couldn’t pass up the chance to watch the King of Monsters back in action!
If you’re worried about me spoiling some of the major plot points of Godzilla: Resurgence/Shin Godzilla, fret not! As noted in the title of the article, this will be a SPOILER FREE review!
Godzilla: Resurgence/Shin Godzilla is a reboot of the entire franchise. It disregards any of the previous events from the earlier movies as well as the recent US film. The basic summary of the film goes as follows: Godzilla appears. Chaos ensues. That’s all you need to know about the story… or is it?
I guess I have to tackle my biggest issue with Godzilla: Resurgence, and that would be its overabundance of plot threads. Without going into detail, there’s a stunning number of minor plot details that are sprinkled throughout the film. This would’ve been fine if these subplots actually lead anywhere but a lot of them don’t really affect the story all that much. A lot of them actually feel totally unnecessary and even slow the film down at parts. Even so, the movie does move along at a brisk pace for the most part. Godzilla: Resurgence is roughly 120-minutes long but the time flew by for me.
Besides the huge number of subplots, there are also a lot of characters to keep track off. Thankfully, most of the main players do a good job in pushing the story forward. That is, they’re all trying to find a way to stop Godzilla from wrecking the city! However, a lot of them just seem to pop into the story without any introduction. The acting is hit-or-miss, especially for the minor characters.
The main characters are mostly likable. The main guy, Yaguchi (played by Hiroki Hasegawa), is pretty good; he puts the entire weight of stopping Godzilla on his shoulders and it does come off on screen. I particularly liked the weird, emotionless girl who’s in the same task force as Yaguchi. Possibly the worst main character in Godzilla: Resurgence is Kayako, played by Satomi Ishihara. Now, the girl is extremely beautiful and her acting is passable. However, the screenwriter decided to make Satomi Ishihara play a Japanese who lives in the United States and acts as the Special Envoy of the US to Japan. So, there are times when she has to speak English dialogue… but it sounds terrible! Her accent is incredibly thick, especially if you consider that the character has been living in America practically her entire life. Essentially, it’s not Satomi Ishihara fault; it’s the decision to make her speak English.
Ultimately, however, Godzilla fans don’t really care for the main characters. No matter how interesting Toho tries to make the human characters, fans still go to watch a Godzilla movie to see the titular monster himself. Now, Godzilla has been a good guy and a bad guy. It all depends on the story. However, the one thing Toho has always been consistent with how The King of Monsters is presented on screen is that he’s always been a guy in a rubber suit… except now.
In Godzilla: Resurgence, Toho decided to forego “suitimation” and go full CGI. As a strong lover of the earlier fims, I was worried. Sure, the suit looked “fake” and the “buildings” Godzilla would demolish clearly looked like miniatures. But this always made him look “solid.” Like he was really there and not inserted into the film. Thankfully, the CGI effects worked well for the most part. There were some times when Godzilla would look extremely stilted. This usually happened when the creature was standing sill. I mean, they couldn’t have added a breathing animation or something? But when he’s in motion and stomping around Japan, the CGI looked believable.
Unlike most of his previous films, Godzilla: Resurgence doesn’t waste time in getting him to rampage around Tokyo, which is great. They jump into the action and mayhem very early and it is a joy to see The King of Monsters destroy stuff again. I loved every minute of watching him just smash through Japan.
Unfortunately, most of the death and destruction happens during the first part of the movie. Everything slows down drastically during the latter part of the film, which is really strange. It downright gets extremely dialog heavy, with people just going up to each other and talking about what they’re going to do to defeat Godzilla. And their ultimate plan on how to take down the monster sounds incredibly realistic and scientifically sound but doesn’t really look like a whole lot of fun in a movie. In fact, the climactic battle at the end felt really stupid and trite. It’s hard to explain without going into spoiler territory. But let’s just say how they executed the plan wasn’t cool.
As a fan, however, I have to say I left leaving Godzilla: Resurgence strangely satisfied. I actually liked this better than the latest US Godzilla film. But that just may be because of personal bias. This was a great reimagining of The King of Monsters to fit today’s sensibilities. I think it’s a great starting point for those who think they might enjoy a little kaiju madness. If they liked the US version because of how they depicted all the destruction during the wake of the monster, they’ll probably have fun with this. If they didn’t like the US version because there “wasn’t enough Godzilla,” they’ll probably have a blast with Godzilla: Resurgence.
Have you seen Godzilla Resurgence/Shin Godzilla? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!