Using a giant lizard destroying various parts of Japan as the backdrop to a political thriller really isn’t the type of high-octane, mesmerising destruction you’d want or expect from a Godzilla movie. The famous Kaiju has seen himself launched through an astronomical number of remakes, sequels and spin-offs, so it’s quite surprising to say that Shin Godzilla is the best of the bunch. Taking conventional aspects of the Toho glory days and colliding them into a conventional political thriller that looks to merge crisis management with humanitarian panic. The Japanese ensemble presents how a government would react to an unknown creature tearing up the streets of their country, and provides us with some delightful scenes of destruction splattered throughout a story of survival.
Because in the end, that is what each Godzilla film boils down to. Regardless of when it was released, the very basis of each film is that of survival. With Shin Godzilla, it’s interesting to note that survival is at its very core, with or without the presence of kaiju, survival in the eye of the media and the public is always on the mind of Prime Minister Seiji Ookouchi (Ren Osugi) and his cabinet. They weigh their options over drawn-out periods, and we receive a real insight into how this fictional government operates, and how they are acclimatising to a new, unique disaster.
Osugi and the rest of the cast all give promising performances. There’s never a dull moment throughout, with the drama between characters often overtaking that of the inevitable disaster Godzilla would bring. Shin Godzilla balances so much in such an effectively beautiful way, with commentary on environmentalism, political power struggles and criticism of government response all underlying tropes beneath what is, at its simplest, an incredible monster movie. Acclimatising to the design of this new Godzilla isn’t so much of a struggle, the CGI is rather well rounded on the whole. Some of the earlier designs seen throughout the opening moments of the film are oddly laughable, but they soon evolve into one of the best big-screen adaptations I’ve ever seen.
A great film on the whole from director Hideaki Anno, Shin Godzilla has revitalised my faith in the possibility of another amazing Godzilla adaptation. Perhaps the best one available, fans of the franchise will feel right at home with this one, and those with no experience of this scaly monstrosity will find a welcome to the series like no other. Near perfection, and perhaps one of the best films of the past decade, Shin Godzilla provides just about every idea it can muster up, and pulls each of them off with grace with undeniably entertaining results.