He may be approaching retirement age, but 63-year-old Godzilla can still bring home the bacon. A big-budget Warner Bros movie pitting him against fellow monster King Kong is currently in the pipeline, and Bryan Cranston’s 2014 reboot made more than $500m at the box office.
Shin Godzilla – or “Godzilla Resurgence” as it’s translated for western audiences – is cut from a very different cloth, however. It’s a schlocky, Japanese-language reboot that lures you in with the promise of unbridled nostalgia but wins you over with sharp geopolitical satire.
Shirking realism at every turn, this Godzilla harks back to the man-in-a-suit creature of yesteryear, an awkward, waddling behemoth with a mindless desire to see Tokyo burn.
But it’s the scenes set in dour bureaucratic offices that really catch fire. These laughable exchanges between self-interested politicians touch on contemporary issues including American exceptionalism, post-war colonialism and climate change, as well as real-life disasters such as Fukushima.
They’re so good, in fact, that it’s a little disappointing when the action cuts back to the monster. Once the initial glee of seeing the famous, lumbering silhouette has worn off, the ever-escalating set pieces become a little underwhelming, although the grand finale has a wonderful sandbox feel that harks back to childhood memories of shoving model trains into a plastic Godzilla.
Derivative in the best possible sense, Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi’s bizarre take on the daddy of monster movies is delightfully silly.
First published in City A.M.