[Courtesy of Toho International]

Movie Review: Godzilla Minus One

07:00 December 05, 2023
By: David Vicari

Godzilla Minus One

I'm a lifelong Godzilla fan and I have seen all the movies multiple times—except for that American made Godzilla vs. Kong (2021), which I only saw once because it's crap. Anyway, the latest Godzilla movie, Godzilla Minus One, is from Toho, the Japanese production company that created the gigantic nuclear-powered reptilian monster with the original film Gojira all the way back in 1954. Godzilla Minus One is the 37th Godzilla picture to be produced, and, amazingly, it is the best Godzilla film ever made.

On the surface, this follows the typical Godzilla film blueprints where the Big G is the baddie: the monster appears, causes chaos and destruction, then the humans have to figure out a way to destroy it. In fact, Minus One is the closest thing to a remake of the '54 original.

So what makes this such an exceptional movie? It has well-written human characters, great action scenes, and this is the scariest Godzilla has been since 2001's Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack.

[Courtesy of Toho International]

Minus One is a period piece, set in Japan, and opens during the waning days of World War II in 1945. Kamikaze pilot Kōichi Shikishima (Ryunosuke Kamiki) lands his plane on a small island and claims to the mechanics crew that his aircraft was malfunctioning. Later that night, a dinosaur-type creature that the villagers call Godzilla comes ashore, and Shikishima freezes with fear while other men are killed by the monster.

Branded as a coward, Shikishima returns to a bombed-out Tokyo and rather unwillingly takes in a young woman, Noriko (Minami Hamabe), and an orphaned child. Then the now bigger and atomic-fueled Godzilla reappears, and it's up to Shikishima and a team of war veterans to attempt to destroy the creature.

The film is written and directed by Takashi Yamazaki, who also supervised the visual effects. Yes it's the digital age and long gone are the days of a man in a rubber suit, but the Suitmation had a certain charm to it and I miss it. Still the digital Godzilla here looks pretty damn cool. The movie also makes great use of late music composer Akira Ifukube's original Godzilla themes.

Look, I love the hell out of the colorful Godzilla monster rallies of the '60s like Mothra vs, Godzilla (1964) or the cheapo entries of the '70s like Godzilla vs, Gigan (1972), but Godzilla Minus One is stark, serious, and really makes you feel that something is at stake.

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