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Godzilla reboot made with fanboy love
HOLLYWOOD, take note: here's another way of making a blockbuster.
Shin Godzilla, by Japanese studio Toho, is a smart and refreshing take on creature features after one too many of the same from the West.
The film goes as far as to redefine the genre by playing out more like a political satire rather than just relying heavily on CGI-heavy action sequences.
The idea is not exactly fool-proof - there is way too much dialogue and the talking-heads-style commonly used in new footage looks boring on the big screen - but it pays to be patient and you'd be pleasantly surprised how entertaining this reboot eventually turns out to be.
In fact, like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Shin Godzilla might take more than one viewing to appreciate just because of how different it is to what other blockbusters typically look like. And something that can stand up to repeated viewings is definitely a classic-in-the-making in our book.
The fanboys in co-directors Hideaki Anno (Neon Genesis Evangelion) and Shinji Higuchi (Attack on Titan) also show with the story by Anno shadowing Ishirô Honda's 1954 original which kick-started the franchise for Toho.
Here, Godzilla doesn't battle other creatures like it usually does. Instead, it's a metaphorical monster for the 2011 Fukushima disaster; just like how its first appearance on the big screen 62 years ago was the result of genetic mutation from the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The fan service even extends to Godzilla's appearance - from some angles, it still looks like it's still being played by an actor sweating it out in a rubber costume like in the old days even though the reality is that the monster is recreated with a mix of computer graphics and motion capture. (Traditional Kyogen theatre actor Mansai Nomura's identity was kept a secret until the film's premiere).
That's the extent of the old-school love Anno and Higuchi shower on Shin Godzilla.
The film wastes no time and opens with strange rumblings in the waters of Tokyo Bay and the flooding of a nearby tunnel. The government declares a state of emergency and various agency leaders convene to come up with a solution.
The experts agree that the cause is a volcanic eruption but Rando Yaguchi (Hiroki Hasegawa), a young deputy chief cabinet secretary is less than convinced though he has a hard time explaining his theory of an unknown life form lurking beneath the bay.
But when Godzilla emerges from the water and proves Yaguchi isn't actually crazy for suggesting a beast is going to destroy the city, he is tasked to put together his own team to counter the threat of the monster.
Yaguchi initially manages to stop Godzilla in his tracks with the help of the army but, instead of retreating, the creature begins to evolve into something bigger and stronger instead.
In steps Kayoko Ann Patterson (Satomi Ishihara), a special envoy to the US president who offers America's help to Japan. The monster hunt turns into a power struggle between the two countries but both must learn to put their differences aside before Godzilla wipes out mankind.
Expect the subtitles to come fast and furious as an endless stream of bureaucrats banter and bicker with one another. That might leave some of the audience blurry-eyed and Godzilla's screen time is slightly sacrificed as a result but rest assured you'll still have a smashing good time.