‘Shin Godzilla’ in review

Not Godzilla’s finest portrayal

Madeline Fuerstenberg

More stories from Madeline Fuerstenberg

November 2, 2020


‘Shin Godzilla’ will be playing Nov. 10-12 in Woodland Theater.

There are 29 Godzilla movies in existence — shouldn’t this franchise be perfected by now?

Filmed primarily in Japanese, and starring a dominantly Japanese cast, “Shin Godzilla” (2016) sets a classic spin on a classic subject.

“Shin Godzilla,” written and directed by Hideaki Anno, follows a series of events, beginning with a mysterious eruption of water in the Tokyo Bay. “Shin” in Japanese can be roughly translated to “new,” “true” or “God.”

Following much speculation as to the cause of the eruption by government officials, it quickly becomes apparent that a large, mysterious, living creature is dwelling beneath the surface of the water.

In an awkwardly silent series of alternating scenes between Japanese ministry members and cheesy, almost cartoonish acts of destruction, this monster finally rears its bizarre-looking head. As it begins traveling through the canals of Tokyo, people quickly begin to realize real danger is imminent.

Evacuations are executed, special task forces are formed, but as this monster moves from water to land, officials quickly realize it will take much more power to save Tokyo from mass annihilation.

Prime Minister Seiji Okochi (Ren Ohsugi) assigns determined cabinet member Rando Yaguchi (Hiroki Hasegawa) to a committee dedicated to stopping the highly evolved and seemingly indestructible creature.

Kayoko Ann Patterson (Satomi Ishihara), a Japanese-American diplomat sent over from the United States, aids Yaguchi in his task, providing him with critical intel regarding the origin of the mysterious creature, which she calls Godzilla.

A nation united by the fear of destruction — and the looming threat of a thermonuclear detonation by the U.S. — fights to stop Godzilla before a third nuke is dropped on Japan by America.

The concepts presented in “Shin Godzilla” certainly created the potential for a great film, but the execution simply fell short.

From the very beginning, the film had an awkward and forced quality to it. Actors violently transitioned from insincere, emotionless reactions, to overdramatic exclamations of distress at random moments.

At times, the characters spoke directly to the cameras, disrupting the natural flow of dialogue and setting; however, the dialogue wasn’t necessarily fluent in the first place. A barrage of awkward one-liners and misplaced attempts at humor play no small part in diminishing the quality of the film. Additionally, there’s always the possibility some power was lost from those lines in the Japanese-to-English translation.

Even the background music in this movie failed to inspire any sort of emotional reaction. There either wasn’t any music in parts where there should have been, or the music choice did not fit the scene at all. For example, multiple intense and serious scenes were ruined by the upbeat soundtracks played in the background.

Godzilla himself was almost comical in appearance, and his robotic movements and poor computer-generated imagery (CGI) quality did not help. While special effect quality does not necessarily make or break a film, there is a certain standard to be expected for movies that were released within the last two years. And really, was it absolutely necessary to all of a sudden give Godzilla the ability to shoot purple lasers out of his mouth?

Though the overall pacing and time jumps of the film were inconsistent and random, “Shin Godzilla” did begin to show slight improvement toward the second half. Themes of evolutionary improbabilities and the morality of nuclear weaponry bring a slightly more sophisticated air to the movie.

“Shin Godzilla” is really a “take it or leave it” sort of film. There are plenty of people out there who would surely love a cheesy movie like this. After all, it was rated a 6.7 out of 10 on IMDb, and it scored an 87 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

For those who enjoy the cheesy wonder of a classic Godzilla flick, “Shin Godzilla” will be playing at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday in the Woodland Theater of Davies Student Center.