***This review was featured on the most recent episode of The Horror Show with Brian Keene. I'm posting the script I read from here. If it differs slightly from the final recorded product...welcome to fucking voice work.***
Hey everybody, this is Stephen Kozeniewski, author of HUNTER OF THE DEAD amongst other titles. Today I'm going to be reviewing "Shin Godzilla" for The Horror Show. And the reason I'm doing this is so that Brian can start calling me his Jimmy Olsen instead of his Jason Todd.
First things first, this is one of if not the best Godzilla movie ever made. I think it might be the best, but it's hard to tell since I've only seen it once. It's definitely in the top tier with classics like the original "Godzilla: King of the Monsters," "Final Wars," "Godzilla 2000," and so forth. The reason I think it may even better than those is because I have never so much believed that this was a real monster destroying a real city. The combination of special effects, practical effects, and CGI was quite simply astonishing. In addition, I never recall even as a child being scared of a Kaiju movie. "Shin Godzilla," however, had some genuinely chilling moments. By focusing on the very real human cost that such a monster would actually cause, "Shin Godzilla" made a compelling case for Godzilla as straight-up, non-ironic horror.
That being said, there is one big drawback to this movie. If you hate subtitles, do not see "Shin Godzilla," or wait until a dubbed version comes out. This is very much a satire of Japanese governmental bureaucracy. So every time a new location or character is introduced, a chyron appears stating the name of the location or the title of the character, such as "Deputy Executive Assistant to the Prime Minister." That means that there are many scenes with three subtitles when there's a new location, a new character, and someone is speaking. It's physically impossible to read that fast, and even when there aren't three subtitles on the screen at once, the dialogue comes very fast and very heavy.
This movie is unapologetically Japanese in its outlook. Americans are largely portrayed as well-meaning buffoons, and the main American character, the ambassador's daughter is, um, not Japanese cinema's greatest portrayal of an American. The movie takes a lot of digs at the Japanese government, which is funny enough but I assume it would be much funnier for a Japanese audience. And its underlying message is about the importance of teamwork and community. The film seems to be saying, yes, bureaucracy is bad, but it's a natural outgrowth of democracy, and the important thing is when the chips are down the Japanese people come together, everyone does their duty, and they pull through together. There's a touching scene where a janitor simply cleans up the wreckage and later a caterer brings a bowl of noodles to the main characters, and it seems to be saying no matter who you are, your contribution is important. The original Godzilla was pretty explicitly a metaphor for the atomic bombs, and this one is, too, though it also carries shades of the more recent disaster in Fukushima, and that was one of the times that we saw the Japanese people coming together and making individual sacrifices for the greater good. So don't expect an American blockbuster where a lone cowboy saves the day like Will Smith blowing up the alien mothership. Instead this is a story of a community coming together.
Overall, I give "Shin Godzilla" more than infinity stars.
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
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