Friday, 21 October 2016

Film Review: "Shin Godzilla" ("シン・ゴジラ") (2016).




The film's tagline reads "A god incarnate. A city doomed." Which is what is about to go down in Shin Godzilla. This Japanese kaiju film featuring the titular King of the Monsters, co-directed by Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi and written by Anno. It is the 29th Godzilla film produced by Toho, and Toho's third reboot of the franchise. An unknown accident occurs in Tokyo Bay's Aqua Line, which causes an emergency cabinet to assemble. All of the sudden, a giant creature immediately appears, destroying town after town with its landing reaching the capital. This plunges Japan into chaos. This mysterious giant monster is named "Godzilla". The reimagines Godzilla's origins, where he emerges in modern Japan for the first time.

In 1954, a terrifying and formidable creature emerged from the depths of Tokyo Bay, and terrorized movie screens all over the world. The film was Gojira, and it went on to become one of the biggest franchises in movie history that spawned a genre of its own. But ever since Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), the character and franchise laid dormant. Until in December 2014, Toho announced plans for a new domestic Godzilla film for a slated 2016 release, stating "This is very good timing after the success of the American version this year: if not now, then when?" Making this film the first Toho-produced Godzilla film in 12 years. The film's writer and chief director Hideaki Anno was offered the director's chair for the film. He reportedly refused Toho's initial offer in order to work on the fourth Evangelion movie but was convinced to join the project after his longtime friend Shinji Higuchi signed on to direct. In March 2015, Both Anno and Higuchi were announced as the film's directors. Both Anno  and Higuchi are longtime friends and collaborators, and are both well-known for their work on the popular anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995). They were selected by Toho to work on this film in part due to their work on the series. Like the original for its nuclear allegory, the film was inspired by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. This is the first Japanese Godzilla movie to be a full reboot, meaning that it shows what would happen if Godzilla attacked for the first time in modern day, and there had been no previous records of him. Although Toho has "rebooted" Godzilla a few times each previous film acknowledged the original 1954 movie as canon and just ignored all previous sequels. In September 2015, Toho revealed the film's official title as Shin Gojira and that the film will star Hiroki Hasegawa, Yutaka Takenouchi, and Satomi Ishihara. Producer Akihiro Yamauchi stated that the title was chosen for the film due to the variety of meanings the syllable "shin" could convey, such as "new", "true", and "god".

Principal photography began in September and concluded in October 2015, with the special effects work following in November that year. According to sources close to the production, Godzilla's design in the film will be mostly based on his design from the original film, and is intended to appear very frightening. This film's Godzilla stands 118.5 m (388 ft) tall, surpassing Legendary Pictures' Godzilla, which stood 355 ft/108 m tall thus making it the largest version of Godzilla to appear on film. Higuchi revealed that Godzilla in this film will be brought to life using a hybrid combination of computer generated imagery and traditional practical tokusatsu effects techniques. Higuchi utilized this same hybrid strategy for the live-action Attack on Titan films. Higuchi, has previous experience working on special effects in multiple kaiju films by Toho. He previously worked as a special effects assistant for Godzilla 1985 (1984) and then was in charge of special effects for Shûsuke Kaneko's Gamera trilogy in the late 1990's. Higuchi also worked on the special effects in one scene for Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001). Godzilla was portrayed in motion capture by Mansai Nomura, a Kyogen (traditional Japanese comic theatre) actor. To realize Godzilla's slow movements, a 10-kilo weight was strapped behind him, and he incorporated the technique of the traditional Japanese dance into his performance. The film was released in Japan on July 29, 2016 to critical acclaim from Japanese critics and was a box office success, becoming the highest grossing live-action Japanese film for 2016 and the highest grossing Japanese-produced Godzilla film in the franchise.

The film features an ensemble that includes Hiroki Hasegawa, Yutaka Takenouchi, Satomi Ishihara, Kengo Kora, Akira Emoto, Jun Kunimura, Mikako Ichikawa, Pierre Taki and Shinya Tsukamoto. All of the 328 actors in this film gave terrific performances of people who ultimately save the day despite being tedious in a few areas due to their bureaucratic nature.

Shin Godzilla is a refreshing approach to the franchise and the genre, even when revisiting it a decade later, in an era inundated with Hollywood movies where each tries to better the last's visual effects budget. Both Anno and Higuchi have taken Godzilla back to his roots. They both get the titular monster right. If there is one Godzilla film anyone should see, this is it. It's a kaiju film with a dark, serious political tone that's very well-written with nothing but incredible actors involved. The film is moody and visually stimulating, it sees the King of the Monsters finally giving the treatment and respect he deserves, in what can only be described as one of the greatest re-vamps given to an enduring character. It can be thought of as 'what if either Stanley Kubrick or Christopher Nolan directed a Godzilla film.' It may be a bit adult for younger children, but for everyone else the film is just about the perfect kaiju movie. Drained of its silliness, the franchise rediscovered its valor, landing Godzilla his finest motion picture effort to date. An impressive cinematic renaissance for the franchise, and a blockbuster with more intelligence than most. An utterly amazing and riveting start to a brand new beginning. A blast of energy that reinvents Godzilla for a new generation of film-goers, which the 2014 film failed to accomplish. Take note Gareth Edwards, this is what a Godzilla film should be. And the last shot? Oh, that last shot.

Simon says Shin Godzilla receives:


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