BY JACK RANSOM NOVEMBER 29, 2023
A reimagining/remake of 1954’s influential classic and the 37th (yes, really!) film in the Godzilla franchise.
Toho’s big liz has had a gargantuan near-70 year big screen career, of which I barely have even scraped in terms of viewing. For the majority of folks reading this, the original classic aside, they may be most familiar with the currently ongoing MonsterVerse features (a mixed bag) and Roland Emmerich’s late 90’s outing (definitely not as good as you remember as a kid). I can say with utmost certainty that Godzilla Minus One is my favourite of everyone’s favourite atomic breathing lizard’s cinematic outings that I have seen so far.
Godzilla Minus One is set in post war Japan: its lowest point, when a new crisis emerges in the form of a giant monster, baptised in the horrific power of the atomic bomb.
Whilst those who have seen the original will no doubt be familiar with this story, and it certainly features a host of familiar blockbuster tropes, it is bolstered by wholeheartedly sincere and crowd pleasing execution. It also manages what the currently ongoing MonsterVerse films have never managed to achieve: engaging, emotionally investing characters that aren’t either irritating and/or boring. Shikishima is a man haunted by guilt and still fighting his own internal war, which is hindering his entire guard being let down to care for both Noriko and Akiko. The post-war Japanese setting also sees time spent with the supporting characters and their lives which are attempting to rebuild from the ravaging.
Whilst the character-work was a welcome and surprisingly impactful surprise, let’s be honest, it’s the Godzilla action that expectations will be high for. Boy, does this deliver. From the opening set piece with Godzilla launching helpless humans into the air with toothy joy, through to a couple of extraordinarily well executed daytime set pieces: the fantastic tugboat pursuit and the utter devastation of Ginza (big fan of ‘Zilla chucking trains around), and concluding with an absolutely thrilling oceanic finale. The CGI work is brilliant, the sound design is thunderous and the recurring original main theme usage is a winner.
Godzilla Minus One is a BIG, entertaining, monster blockbuster that I implore you to catch on the big screen if it stomps into your local cinema (or treat yourself to IMAX). A near perfect balance of character focus and destructive mayhem and superb CGI and sound design, overshadow the smattering of pacing problems and familiar traits and tropes.