I’m not really the biggest Kaiju- or Godzilla-nerd. While I saw a couple of them as a kid, they never spoke to me in the same way as, say, sci-fi (like “Star Trek”). Thus, I have no nostalgic feelings toward Toho and their classics. Still, I was looking forward to their new take on their most popular monster, and even though it wasn’t all I hoped it would be, I rather enjoyed it.
I liked that with “Shin Godzilla” they went back to the original idea of Godzilla as a monster and a threat, instead of a protector of the Earth and humanity. It was also interesting to see how the entire film was obviously inspired by the catastrophe in Fukushima. I liked the design – and the old-fashioned “man in suit”-realization of Godzilla’s final stage. The occasional short cell phone-clips etc. were also implemented really well. They mixed things up a bit, and added credibility to the proceedings. I liked their idea to stop Godzilla in the end. By far my favorite part of the movie, though, was the attack on Tokio at night. That entire sequence was just awesome. Visually stunning, and the score was extremely haunting and beautiful. However: As much as I initially enjoyed the scenes dealing with bureaucratic hurdles – men sitting in meetings and talking and discussing instead of actually doing something to help the people (a not-so-subtle criticism of Japan’s crisis management) – I got the point they were trying to make 10-15 minutes in (at the latest). But those sequences seemed to go on forever and were spread throughout the entire movie. Thus, it got tired rather quickly. And, unfortunately, it seemed to me that apart from said message, they didn’t really have anything to say, which didn’t stop them from repeating it over and over again for almost two hours. Which brings me to my next criticism: It simply was too long for its own good. With a runtime of 90-100 minutes, it would have been far more gripping and entertaining. As as much as I enjoyed the final stage of Godzilla’s development, his first “incarnation” was rather lame. For a movie that made a point going back to the “man in suit”-approach, it was weird that they started with a CGI-monster. That those effects were rather terrible and looked pretty cheap didn’t help matters either. And even though the showdown had its moments, it couldn’t compete with the stunning Tokio-attack-sequence before, and thus felt a little anti-climatic.
All in all, “Shin Godzilla” was ok, but as someone who has no nostalgic feelings towards Toho-Godzilla, it wasn’t quite the highlight for me that it probably was for others, and overall, I have to admit that I (vastly) preferred Gareth Edwards approach (and, of course, the original “Godzilla”-movie from 1954, which IMO is still the best there is.)