Shin Godzilla? More like Shin Mortal-zilla. Directed by Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi, the Japanese reboot of the beloved giant monster movie does not live up to all the hype. When one thinks of Godzilla or giant monster movies, one assumes an intimidating Godzilla and frightening destruction driven by human emotion. What we get instead is a rather underwhelming Godzilla with too many subplots from the human side of the story.
The film follows the structure of “this event is impossible, but if it happened, this is what would occur.” From the get-go, even when seemingly natural catastrophes occur, everyone tries to rationally explain what is happening, ruling out the improbable -- or rather the “impossible” -- except for Japan’s Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Rando Yaguchi (played by Hiroki Hasegawa). He points out evidence of a possible giant monster, but everyone around him seems to be in denial before Godzilla actually appears and starts destroying the city. What ensues after are countless meetings between Japanese politicians, foreign officials, and military officers discussing the Godzilla crisis and how to resolve it.
Good films are driven by its characters and Shin Godzilla manages to partially capture the human aspect of the film. Tension and drama builds really well amongst characters and overall the actors perform very well. The main spotlight would definitely be on Hiroki Hasegawa’s character, Rando Yaguchi; he always has great chemistry with whichever actor he’s with in any scene showing great versatility. What came as a surprise while watching this film was the amount of humor. Through the chaotic meetings between government and military officials, Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi sneak in quirky, yet funny moments that seem to show that no matter how serious the situation, there’s always time to add in a joke.
The upside to the meetings is its humor, but they also include unwanted or unnecessary subplots that clutter the film’s plot. While I understand the purpose of Kayoko Ann Paterson (played by Satomi Ishihara), she never seems relevant or as important as she should’ve been. The key problem in this movie is Godzilla itself. Godzilla may have been destructive, but it sure wasn’t terrifying which it should be since it is a giant monster that towers over buildings. Its very first appearance is rather underwhelming because of how it looks and though I understand why it looks the way it does at the beginning and at the end of the movie, the damage it had on my impressions were too negative. Buildings got destroyed, people died, and everyone was in mass panic, but I never felt a real sense of danger or fright from Godzilla itself.
Shin Godzilla is a sci-fi monster film featuring the legendary Godzilla. Even though this film has a strong lead, surprising humor, and good acting all around, this new incarnation does not quite live up to the legend because it completely misses the mark on the Godzilla side of the film. With a personal rating of 2.5 out of 5 stars, I’d wish I didn’t get invited to see Shin Godzilla.