Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Shin Godzilla (Godzilla: Resurgence) review

By Nico Beland
Movie Review: *** ½ out of 4
Godzilla is back for more monster mayhem in Shin Godzilla (Godzilla: Resurgence)

            The King of the Monsters is back to wreak more havoc in the 31st film in the Godzilla franchise, the first Godzilla movie from Japan since Godzilla: Final Wars in 2004, as well as the first Godzilla film released in American theaters since Godzilla 2000 (The 2014 American Godzilla movie from Legendary Pictures doesn’t count!). I remembered seeing Godzilla 2000 in theaters in the summer of 2000 when I was a little kid, and it was certainly very different from all the other movies I was seeing at the time.
            There wasn’t much CGI used in the film aside from the alien monster that Godzilla was fighting, most of the battle sequences consisted of Godzilla being a man in a rubber suit destroying models and miniatures. It’s undeniably cheesy but it introduced me to other ways to do special effects in film and how a movie can achieve so much with so little, it’s undeniably charming.
            Godzilla 2000 was the first Godzilla movie I ever saw and I had a blast watching it, I was certainly looking forward to seeing the next movie. Sadly 2000 and Godzilla 1985 were the only Godzilla movies released in American theaters, aside from two American adaptations, one that completely missed the point of Godzilla, and the other paid homage to the iconic monster while being an entertaining popcorn flick as well as a box-office smash.
            I enjoyed most of the Godzilla movies I’ve seen, but I’m not a purist of Godzilla, I have not seen every movie and I don’t really talk about Godzilla that much compared to other movies. That’s why we got folks like James Rolfe, the Angry Video Game Nerd to cover the mythos of Godzilla, but I digress.
            History has pretty much repeated itself, Japan made Godzilla 2000 in response to the 1998 Roland Emmerich trainwreck from TriStar, you know what I’m talking about, the giant iguana named Zilla, wide-eyed and annoying Matthew Broderick, and of course, there’s a lot of fish, “God” I hate that “Zilla” movie. Now due to the 2014 Godzilla film released by Legendary Pictures that brought him back into the spotlight, Toho decided to yet again bring him back to Japanese pop culture, rubber suits, models, and all.
            That’s pretty much where Shin Godzilla comes in, or Godzilla: Resurgence as it’s called in the United States. The film was given a limited theatrical release with its original Japanese language and English subtitles. Really, I can sum up my thoughts on this movie is a very simple phrase…it’s a Godzilla movie!
            The film starts off as just a normal day in Japan, nothing out of the ordinary yet, however when a strange fountain of water starts erupting in the bay, it causes panic to spread around government officials. At first they suspect it to be volcanic activity, but oh no, there’s something bigger happening in Japan, much, MUCH bigger.
            Godzilla emerges from the deep and runs a prehistoric muck, destroying buildings, vehicles, shooting his trademark atomic breath at everything, and leaving nothing but destruction in his wake. The government scrambles to save as many citizens as possible, while a team of volunteers cuts through a web of red tape to find Godzilla’s weakness and its mysterious link to a foreign superpower, but time is not on their side as a massive catastrophe is about to evolve right before their eyes.
            Overall, Shin Godzilla is a satisfying return to classic Godzilla movie fare that only Japan can deliver. The effects are obviously fake but the filmmakers take full advantage of what they have, resulting in monstrous uses of practical effects, unlike America, which is very CG savvy these days.
            Don’t get me wrong, I thought the 2014 Legendary Pictures movie was a solid Godzilla adaptation, but let’s face it, it’s not a true Godzilla movie. What makes a true Godzilla movie? It just has to be made in Japan.
            Godzilla’s design looked much better in the 2014 movie compared to the one from the 1998 film, but let’s face it, they’re both just 3D cartoons in a computer. What the Japanese do that I flat out applaud them for is when they make a Godzilla movie, they use practical effects, rubber suits, and models to deliver a unique and exciting monster movie experience, and guess what, IT’S REALLY THERE ON THE SCREEN!
            It’s always refreshing to me whenever I see real special effects instead of digital effects made in a computer, or at the very least a good balance between practical and CGI, which is why I praised movies like Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Mad Max: Fury Road. There’s so much more expression and creativity in the film’s effects, seeing a giant Godzilla suit destroying little cars and monuments, to me is a lot more engaging than watching a bunch of digital effects clashing with each other.
            Shin Godzilla, to me, is the perfect definition of a “Fan Service” movie, and it’s strictly for the fans. I don’t think this movie would appeal much to the mainstream movie-goers, these types of movies are an acquired taste.

The effects and set-up are amazing through the eyes of people who understand what a Godzilla movie is like, but a regular moviegoer would probably get very confused, also it’s probably why the 1998 and 2014 Godzilla movies appealed more to the mainstream, nevertheless, you a Godzilla fan? You’re probably watching it now.

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