Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Godzilla Minus One / ゴジラマイナスワン - Movie Review

The Movie: Godzilla Minus One / ゴジラマイナスワン

The Director: Takashi Yamazaki

The Cast: Ryunosuke Kamiki, Minami Hamabe, Yuki Yamada, Munetaka Aoki, Hidetaka Yoshioka, Sakura Ando, Kuranosuke Sasaki

The Story: Post war Japan is at its lowest point when a new crisis emerges in the form of a giant monster, baptized in the horrific power of the atomic bomb.

The Review:
Toho Studios has been in the movie making business since the 1940's wth Godzilla being its feature property for nearly that entire length of time so it's fitting that they put out one of the best kaiju movies we have seen in some time. Of course, we're all familiar with the modern franchise that crosses over with King Kong and I enjoy those movies as much as anyone else although Toho and director Takashi Yamazaki really nail what a Godzilla movie is all about.

The story is set in post WWII Japan and digs deep into the psyche of a country that lost their part in the global turmoil with common citizens often having paid the highest of prices. There's a lot of politics within the story both within Japan's own systems as well as how decisions made by superpowers like the United States and the former Soviet Union continue to have an impact long after the war's end. For my part, this is essential to any proper Godzilla movie as the idea behind the monster is something terrible being born out of nuclear devastation.

With all of that laid out as the framework for the story, I was also very happy to see Godzilla's on screen presence minimized which emphasizes the fact that the most famous monster in cinematic history is back to his basic villainous ways. You can still ask yourself if there's real evil intent here or is the creature just lashing out in an attempt to preserve its own survival which is interesting because survival is where the film's humanity comes from.

The two main human characters in the movie are Koichi, a former kamikaze pilot played by Ryunosuke Kamiki, and Noriko, played by Minami Hamabe, that Koichi literally stumbles across after his not so triumphant return to Tokyo. As ou can imagine, being a survivor of the was as a kamikaze pilot comes packed full of issues among fellow soldiers and regular citizens who would have expected theman to carry out his ultimate duty in service to his country. The losses both of these characters suffer tears them apart mentally and emotionally and is also the thing that reluctantly brings them together.

The struggles that Koichi and Noriko face are highlighted by strong performances from the actors and I was also very happy to see Sakura Ando also putting in a strong effort in a supporting role. If you're not familiar with this amazing actress then I highly recommend watching Shoplifters as soon as possible which was created by legendary director Kore-eda Hirokazu. Ultimately, this is a character driven story with the backdrop being the world war and resulting monster's emergence and that's what makes the movie so good. You have lots of time to get to know the characters which helps to understand they journeys they are on and makes for a very satisfying experience by the time it's all said and done.

By the way, the special effects in this movie are absolutely fantastic. Everything has a very clean, photo realistic look to it while also having the colors and textures of a film that could have been made back in the 40's and 50's. I feel like everyone involved in every aspect of the movie was given the time and freedom to create the highest quality product instead of just churning out something for the sake of hitting box office numbers. That being said, this movie really deserves to be seen on the same epic scale as the iconic monster that it's all about. Go see it in the theater and see it in IMAX or whatever premium format theater you have available.

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