Force Of Nature
♦ Tripwire’s contributing writer Alasdair Stuart takes a look at Shin Godzilla, out now for a limited cinema release in the UK and then on Blu Ray and DVD…
Directed by Hideako Anno and Shinji Higuchi
Written by Hideaki Anno
Starring Hiroki Hasegawa, Yutaka Takenouchi, Satomi Ishihara
An explosion in Tokyo Bay leads to the impossible; a massive animal drags itself ashore, causing havoc. As the government struggle to cope, the creature begins to evolve, moving faster than the Armed Forces can follow and science can understand. Only Rando Yaguchi (Hasegawa) and his team of misfits has a chance of stopping it. But first they have to understand it…
This is a new high watermark not only for modern Godzilla movies but for modern monster movies. Anno and Higuchi brilliantly combine a satirical exploration of Japanese bureaucracy with echoes of the Fukushima disaster to create a monster movie that feels contemporary, real and surprisingly grounded.
A vast amount of this comes from the way Rando, Hideki Akesaka (Takenouchi) and Kayko Anne Patterson (Satomi Ishihara) interact. The push me/pull you of modern bureaucracy and the need for reaction is embodied in the relationship between Rando and Akesaka and folds into an ending that neatly balances political ambition with heroism. Meanwhile Patterson is the special aide from the US and cleverly embodies both the special relationship and the real world consequences of the impossible events the movie portrays.
Manasi Nomura is ironically both the most important and least visible member of the cast. Performing the motion capture for Godzilla, Nomura gives the massive creature intelligence, malice and presence that ramps the threat level up constantly. The clever combination of CGI and practical effects is equally impressive and the massive, waved attack that closes the movie down is a particular highlight.
But what really works here is the humanity. Yaguchi and his exhausted team of scientists and fixers are untidy, scrappy and far outside the political norm. They’re also desperately fallible and that’s what makes the movie shine. They make mistakes, just like the older generation have moments of heroism and the end result is a film that really does feel like its struggling to contain an unprecedented event. Everything here feels real and earned, and the deductive thinking at the centre of the movie is genuinely brilliant.
This is a Godzilla movie that’s massive in scope, personal in focus and light on it’s feet. It’s chillingly well realised, plays like a West Wing episode with added kaiju and never fails to grasp your attention. Enthralling, terrifying and a unique introduction to the King of the Monsters. Highly recommended.