or those viewers who believe Godzilla films consist of two
guys in rubbery costumes wrestling with each other while a badly dubbed cast
carries on some semblance of a plot, this film will be a revelation. This
Godzilla film is a dark and occasionally frightening tale with heavy
supernatural elements. This film takes Godzilla seriously, and so will you.
Ignoring all previous Godzilla films, the story opens with
the destruction of an American nuclear submarine, with very familiar glowing
back fins disappearing into the murky depths. The story then introduces us to a
tabloid news team that discovers the legend of the guardian monsters of Japan.
Named Baraguon, Mothra and King Ghidorah, they terrorized Japan in ancient times
before being imprisoned. The team also meet an old prophet who warns them that
Godzilla is returning, now possessed by the souls of dead Japanese soldiers from
World War II who feel that modern Japan has forgotten them. He also predicts
that the guardian monsters of Japan will be resurrected to defend their home
Soon Godzilla reappears with a vengeance, but so too does
the three guardian monsters. While Baraguon is quickly dispatched by a fiery
death, the two more formidable monsters remain. Japan watches, wondering if
Mothra and King Ghidorah can stand against the fury of Godzilla, while the
military has their own designs on destroying the monster.
Director Shusuke Kaneko ("Cross
Fire") and co-writer Kei’ichi Hasegawa have re-imagined
Godzilla as a vicious, feral beast that lays waste to everything he sees.
Sporting pure white eyes, large fangs and a blowtorch-like fire breath, this
Godzilla is a nightmare come to life. Kaneko also emphasizes the terror of
seeing this creature by using camera angles to simulate the experience of
looking up at a towering beast. This is also the most realistic of the Godzilla
films, focusing on the massive collateral damage that occurs when giant monsters
The creature suits designed by Fuyuki Shinada are very
life-like and possibly the best ever. Especially in the case of Godzilla, who
shows a scary new look for this film, and the change looks good on him. The
cinematography and matte work are also excellent, although the CGI effects
sometime appear unrealistic. Composer Ko Otani’s score enhances the monster
and battle scenes, and gives the film a distinctive atmosphere.
The plot is quite imaginative and takes the Godzilla series
in a new direction by adding fantasy and horror elements to a reliable science
fiction formula. An inventive and bold new take on a classic monster, the movie
daringly depicts the harsh reality of a monster rampaging through a city while
still being able to convince the audience to suspend disbelief for 105 minutes.
But perhaps it is too daring to make Godzilla be possessed
by dead Japanese soldiers of World War II, who now feel the current generation
is ignoring their sacrifices. Since Japan entered World War II voluntarily and
intent on aggression, one wonders how the spirits would like to be remembered
and how they can justify their actions in instigating conflict with other
countries. Godzilla is a worldwide cultural icon and his films are not
appropriate forums to express nationalistic opinions. This concept detracts from
one of the best Godzilla films in several years, one that is sure to please
kaiju and science fiction fans. These movies should inspire feelings of
enjoyment, not cause controversy and anger.