A leak in Tokyo Bay's Aqua Line tunnel sends government officials speculating on the cause. Was it some kind of underwater eruption? Or is it Godzilla? If you guessed the Big G, you're correct. Soon, Godzilla emerges from the water and begins trashing everything in sight en route to Tokyo. Will the Japanese government be able to stop Godzilla? Or will he turn Japan into a graveyard?
Let me tell you, my heart literally skipped a beat when Godzilla's stomp and roar were heard during the Toho logo. And I have to give SHIN GODZILLA credit for dispensing with the bullshit in the beginning and getting right down to business.
However, things go downhill from there.
First off, Godzilla's new look is sure to inspire more laughs than frights. G's look in GODZILLA VS DESTROYAH is an obvious influence here, minus the menace: those big eyes and TOO disproportionate arms make him look more like Godzilla's retarded cousin, Derpzilla. And that's not even the worst part: the first time we see Godzilla he looks more like the degenerate offspring of Zilla and Anguirus. Why? Simple: because Godzilla's still evolving. It isn't until nearly halfway through that we see him looking more like his normal self. Maybe Derpzilla is one stop along the way to Godzilla. Only sequels will tell.
Godzilla also has some new special features, which include: an atomic ray instead of radioactive breath, a lower jaw that splits, a tail that likewise shoots an atomic ray and a laser light show that erupts from his back (I wonder if he's available for raves?).
Call me a luddite, but I'll take a dude in a rubber suit smashing models over CGI any day. However, the CGI in SHIN GODZILLA is actually pretty good. For the most part anyways. While objects look nearly lifelike, there are instances when Godzilla looks pretty dodgy. Also, Godzilla's animation is real stiff at times and makes him look more like an action figure being moved by a little kid as opposed to an organic being.
But enough about Godzilla himself. How does the rest of the movie fare? I'm not shitting you when I say Godzilla falls asleep halfway through the movie. That tells you quite a bit.
A lot of people bitched and moaned that 2014's GODZILLA didn't have enough monster action in it. This is true. However, the action it DID have was rousing and exciting. In SHIN GODZILLA, the action is barely half-mast. Godzilla does very little except trample things, knock down buildings and smash shit, none of it very exciting. Then it's nap time for the remaining hour until he is stopped in an unexciting and limp-dicked finale.
A good chunk of the movie is taken up by board meetings, political squabbles and bureaucratic inefficiency – all of which are, supposedly, digs at the Japanese government's inadequate responses to the 2011 Tohuku earthquake and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. I have no problems with genre films tackling "big issues," but not at the expense of entertainment. Which is exactly what SHIN GODZILLA does.
And for a film that choses to focus more on the human drama than the monster action, the characters here are pretty lifeless and one-note. And there are way too fuckin' many of them. Half the time I didn't know who was who. The only one who stands out is Kayoko Patterson (Satomi Ishihara) because she speaks English at times and is nice to look at.
And another thing I have to bring up is the film's constant need to tell you WHO everyone is (no matter how minor a part they play) and WHAT everything is (no matter how insignificant) and WHERE everything is (once again, no matter how insignificant). Text constantly appears on the screen telling you the who, what, when, where, why, and how. It's acceptable to tell me the location is the Prime Minister's residence. You DON'T need to tell me when we're in an elevator. Or in a hallway. Or that a helicopter is some kind of helicopter. Or that a tank is some kind of tank. Or that a character in one scene for ten seconds is Mr. Of No Consequence. It's just distracting. And annoying.
At the end of the day, SHIN GODZILLA disappoints - and disappoints big. While it has its moments, there is very little to recommend here and should only be seen by Godzilla completists. All others are advised to play Kick the Can instead. – Evan Romero
Evan Romero is a regular contributor to the pages of ER and spends much of his time reading morally questionable books and watching movies no sane person would touch. He is the vocalist/bassist for the punk band Porno Holocaust (you can find them on Facebook and listen to some demos if you’re inclined). You can read more of his reviews at ReelAtrocities.com or at PopHorror.com. He last wrote about GORGO.
SHIN GODZILLA is currently in cinemas.