Godzilla Minus One is the 37th film in the Godzilla Franchise and Toho’s 33rd Godzilla Film. Godzilla Minus One is directed, written, and visual effects by Takashi Yamazaki and stars Ryunosuke Kamiki, Minami Hamabe, Yuki Yamada, Munetaka Aoki, Hidetaka Yoshioka, Sakura Ando, and Kuranosuke Sasaki. The film is set at the end of World War II and follows Japan’s confrontation with Godzilla.
Growing up, I have watched many Godzilla films including the ones made in the USA. I have always seen Godzilla as an anti-hero who fights other Monsters that are destroying the world for his own purpose of maintaining his APEX predator status. It was an absolute thrill to see Godzilla Minus One taking us back to the earliest rendition where he is clearly not a protagonist but a force of nature. This film was able to deliver an epic kaiju film with a $15 million budget less than most films in the U.S. with almost a $100 million budget. From the visual effects, the character development, and the writing, this undoubtedly is one of my favorite Godzilla films to date.
The film had such a great and creative narrative by having the audience follow the main character, Kōichi Shikishima, a former kamikaze pilot who is dealing with survivor’s guilt. We take a look at the devastation that World War II had on Japan and the overall theme of the significance of one’s life and the importance of living after tragedy. Without delving too much, we see how the Kōichi is riddled with guilt and pain about not fulfilling his duty as a Kamikaze pilot and struggling with living after the war. With most Kaiju films, the audience wants to see as much monster action as possible and less human stories as possible. Fortunately, the writing and character development did a wonderful job of making the characters likable and relatable to keep me following along. Although this film is called Godzilla Minus One, Godzilla is seen more of an impending doom or doomsday clock, while we have the spotlight on humanity. The cast delivered performances that continued to pull us in and never let the audience feel taken “out” at any time. In addition, I felt that this film really demonstrates the polar views of how the United States and Japan view the effects of the atomic bomb. In the U.S., we see Godzilla as more of a spectacle and a hero in some cases but for Japan, they see Godzilla as terrifying as any natural disaster. Seeing the parallels and feeling them through this Godzilla film had such an incognito effect.
The visual effects of the movie demonstrates the calamity of the terror that is Godzilla. From the way he eerily swims in the seas to the catastrophic rampage over buildings, I was in awe of how visually stunning it is. Any moment that we see him on screen, it was well worth the wait because it was spectacular. His iconic atomic breath was absolutely magnificent of how terrifying it is and makes me thank everyday that this is a fictional creation. You do not want to miss any part of when Godzilla is entering Ginza, I will tell you that much. Yamazaki is so talented at managing writing, directing, and supervising the visual effects. In my opinion, the design of Toho’s Godzilla continues to be far superior than any other incarnation.
As one of the few properties that continue to be reimagined many many times, but Godzilla Minus One refreshes the character that is still familiar and yet new, that will keep older fans happy and bring a new generation of audience. It balances such a well-written story with a heartfelt message while delivering blockbuster action!
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