Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Shin Godzilla (2016)

Godzilla is arguably Japan's most internationally well-known cinematic icon, and Shin Godzilla (aka Godzilla Resurgence) is an attempt to bring him into a 21st century world of mobile phones and CGI. The film is certainly entertaining, but suffers from odd pacing and a lack of the title character for long stretches.

The plot largely follows the standard template for a Godzilla film, particularly the 1954 original, starting with mysterious scenes of death and destruction, which are eventually linked to the title character, followed by his increasingly devastating rampages and futile attempts by the military to stop him. There are some modern updates as this time, rather than American nuclear testing it is dumped nuclear waste that brings the beast to life, and, of course, when the public see Godzilla for the first time, they all reach for their phones to start filming him.

The original is a fascinating study of national identity in post-World War Two Japan. Shin Godzilla retains this more serious tone, but brings it up to date with the scenes of destruction and the bureaucratic impotence of the national government recalling the recent real-life horrors of Fukushima, although, endless scenes of inter-governmental bickering do not always make for scintillating viewing. The pacing feels inconsistent with a gripping and thrill packed opening 30 minutes followed by a stodgy, talky and hour or so, which is also largely monster free, while Godzilla recharges his nuclear batteries.

Purists may also balk at the amount of CGI used, with the traditional man in a rubber suit replaced by a man in a motion-capture suit, and some of the scenes of destruction look a little more slick and digital than the traditional miniature model sets.

Nevertheless, it's always good to see Godzilla back on the big screen, and when the mayhem and destruction happens it's easy to forget the flaws and focus on what is so good about these sorts of films.