(Japan - 2016)
Directed by Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi. Written by Hideaki Anno. Cast: Hiroki Hasegawa, Yutaka Takenouchi, Satomi Ishihara, Ren Osugi, Akira Emoto, Kengo Kora, Mikako Ichikawa, Jun Kunimura, Pierre Taki, Mansai Nomura. (Unrated, 120 mins)
Toho reboots the legendary GODZILLA franchise after a 12-year hiatus with SHIN GODZILLA, the 29th entry in the official Japanese series and the first since 2004's much-maligned all-star monster mash GODZILLA: FINAL WARS. Already in development when Gareth Edwards' American GODZILLA bowed in 2014, SHIN GODZILLA ("Shin" meaning "true" or "new") is a total do-over--a shin reboot, if you will--that pretends none of its predecessors happened, including Ishiro Honda's 1954 landmark GOJIRA. Like GOJIRA--famously retooled for the US as 1956's GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS, with Raymond Burr in added scenes--SHIN GODZILLA has a statement to make. Where the creature in GOJIRA was a symbol of Japanese anger over the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (those elements were left out of the Burr-ified version), the new Godzilla is a symbol of the triple catastrophes that hit Japan on March 11, 2011: the Tohoku earthquake, the tsunami, and the resulting meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Written by Hideaki Anno, best known for the hugely popular NEON GENESIS EVANGELION anime TV series, and co-directed by Anno and effects mastermind Shinji Higuchi, SHIN GODZILLA is an often scathing rebuke of ineffective Japanese politicians and the pass-the-buck bureaucrats, frequently exhibiting absurdist humor along the lines of DR. STRANGELOVE, so much so that you'd swear that THE THICK OF IT and VEEP creator Armando Iannucci helped out with the script. It's an interesting approach to take for a GODZILLA film, and one that's very much in tune with the world today, but it eventually belabors its points to a tedious degree, growing increasingly repetitive and overstaying its welcome.
roar and Akira Ifukube's "Godzilla March." But the razor-sharp wit stalls right around the time Godzilla depletes its energy and remains motionless in the heart of Tokyo for most of the second half of the film while everyone figures out how to get rid of it. The pushy US government works in conjunction with the United Nations on a plan to nuke Godzilla, which requires evacuating all of Tokyo, but Yaguchi and Patterson want to avoid the nuclear option in favor of a coagulating agent that will essentially freeze it to death. There's some understandably mixed feelings on the part of what's left of the government (the Prime Minister and most of his top officials are killed during an earlier evacuation), whose younger members know and understand what their elders went through at the end of WWII.
smackdowns for kids), and much of it is quite good, but it just loses its momentum and grinds its gears when it really matters most.