The Honor-Bound Reboot: Our Review of ‘Shin Godzilla’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - October 11, 2016

The world is shrinking by the second and us seeing movies from all across the globe filling up our multiplexes is no longer that strange of a concept as even the blockbusters from across the globe are hitting our screens.  Kicking off tomorrow in a limited run; Shin Godzilla is very much an homage to the original formula and reboots it all in a fun and classic way that still manages to lean into its origins by making political statements and not shying away from the slightly goofy nature that all of these stories have.

It’s an idyllic and peaceful day in Japan when all that gets disrupted by the eruption of a strange fountain of water in the middle of the bay sending government officials into an absolute panic.  They initially suspect volcanic activity, but what if it’s something else…what if it’s something alive?  Nightmares become reality when a massive, gilled monster emerges from the deep and begins tearing through the city, leaving nothing but destruction in its wake.   As government officials scramble to save the populace and their own careers, a small group of volunteers decide to cut through the red tape and do things their own way, as the clock is ticking against them in order to avert a catastrophe of global proportions.

From writer/director Hideaki Anno; Shin Godzilla works as an almost homage to the original from 1954.  It’s not rife with hi tech digital effects, as a matter of fact it actually looks a little bit goofy but it maintains the spirit and tone of the series.

As we step back into this franchise, it isn’t a perfect transition but everything fits well enough to make the movie as a whole work.  Anno follows the beats of the original quite well and gives it all enough of a twist to still make it feel relevant in the modern culture.  Yeah, I’ll admit the visual effects are pretty goofy, but at least they are goofy in accordance with the history and mythology of the franchise.  Anno keeps it all moving at a reasonable clip while balancing the drama, the social satire all with the action all in one.  Separately none of these elements should ever work, but the delicate combination of them all plays in a rather fun and entertaining way.  Anno knows his source material and honors it at every turn.

The ensemble cast has to do a lot of fast talking as they did with the social and allegorical elements of the story, and it’s fine because that’s what they are supposed to do.  We get emotionally invested in a handful of these characters and while it would have been nice to have a little more of the campy elements throughout all of this as it does run the risk of taking itself far too seriously at times.  We get the political and social underpinnings but the inherent comedy about all these serious government officials chasing this giant monster plays a little too subtly at times.

Ultimately, Shin Godzilla is exactly what it’s supposed to be.  A loving tribute to the tone and style of some Toho Pictures most infamous monsters movies with a bit of a modern slant and it shows us that the flash doesn’t always need to be there, especially when the formula is just so spot on.

Shin Godzilla plays tomorrow at select Cineplex locations as a part of a limited run.

  • Release Date: 10/12/2016
This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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