Legendary Japanese production company Toho return to their most successful franchise as Godzilla comes back to Japan in Shin Godzilla, a full reboot of the hugely popular series.
After unexplainable seismic activity and accidents occur in the Tokyo Bay area, the government convenes to tackle the problem. However, it’s not a natural disaster, but a beast that they have to contend with.
It’s good for Godzilla to be back in Toho’s hands and if you were disappointed with the 2014 American version then you might hope Shin Godzilla puts things right. I wouldn’t hold your breath. Shin Godzilla is a strange beast, and I’m not just talking about the massive lizard. If you wanted to see an almost piece by piece staging of the realistic governmental reaction to a massive monster suddenly appearing in a major city then this film has you covered. But that does mean that about 90% of the film is taken up with meetings in dull looking rooms for its two-hour running time. The film needlessly tells us what every room is and the name and job of every person speaking, even when we really don’t need to know. Unfortunately, the film is a lot more preoccupied in the bureaucracy than it is with the people, so Shin Godzilla lacks a human heart or anyone to really care about.
But what of the actual big guy himself? Well, he gets off to an auspicious start. Making literal waves, he starts as always from the depths of the sea. After all, where else could he hide? One of the main differences about this version of the Godzilla is that he goes through an evolutionary stage, first as an underwater creature before slowly making his way on to land. What appears is something of a disappointment. Bog-eyed and hampered by poor CGI, it looks like a deformed creature that was never meant to live. It’s in his second evolution and most recognisable form that he actually comes into his own. For some reason, the digital effects are much better and more believable in this iteration, and Godzilla is a gnarled mass of scar tissue, as imposing as he is physically interesting. He still has his atomic breath but this time a couple of other surprises and a hefty recharge time. The spectre of Nagasaki and Hiroshima still loom large in the creature with a massive amount of radioactive material being left behind wherever he goes.
The disc release gives those interested a fair amount of extras packed on to a second disc, with several VFX pieces highlighting one of the most successful parts of the film.
Shin Godzilla is a film filled with far more government meetings than Godzilla action. A lack of compelling characters and an abundance of bureaucracy make Godzilla’s big screen return a let-down.
SHIN GODZILLA . CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR: HIDEAKI ANNO, SHINJI HIGUCHI / SCREENPLAY: HIDEAKI ANNO, SEAN WHITLEY / SCREENPLAY: HIROKI HASEGAWA, YUTAKA TAKENOUCHI, SATOMI ISHIHARA / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW