Hey all, Jon D. B. here with some immediate reviews from western fans; i.e. friends of mine who have already seen the film. Each is either an expert in the field of tokusatsu or avid collector – so If these were the types of reviews you were waiting for, look no further. I’ll be updating this piece constantly as more reviews come in:
Mark Jaramillo is a renowned kaiju expert and tokusatsu historian (most well known for revitalizing the lost 80’s G-short-film, Godzilla vs Wolfman), not to mention a great guy. He’s posted his initial, spoiler-free review on Facebook, and had the following to say:
SHIN GOJIRA was an amazing film. The city rampage sequences are SPECTACULAR. This incarnation of Godzilla is the most terrifying version since the original. The story is heavy on dialogue between the various agencies and governments trying to deal with the threat, and I could not make out many key moments due to language limitations. There were many surprises, and it was not predictable by any means. There were aspects of the film that will be controversial, and it is definitely an entry in the series that will divide fans. I do like the film and what it adds to the overall mythos of Godzilla.
John Ruffin of My Kaiju Godzilla is another expert in tokusatsu, friend, and a resident of Japan. His brief synopsis is also high-praise for the film:
Shin Godzilla is genius, DIFFERENT, and Japan vs Godzilla in everyway. You must come to this from the truth of Godzilla. You must know what Japan is facing. Then you’ll see Godzilla.
Mike Ross, another friend and enthusiastic follower of the genre, is an avid G-Fan and long time pro-collector. His review is rather intriguing:
Ok, so Shin Godzilla… let’s just say this: Everything you’ve learned about Godzilla in the past 60+ years, whether it be classic Toho Godzilla and/or Legendary Godzilla… throw it all out the window. This is a VERY, and I mean, VERY different Godzilla, one that people may love, or may hate. I need another viewing of the movie, this time with subtitles. There are a lot of unanswered questions that left me confused. Just be prepared to expect the unexpected.
Update: Chris Oglio of Symphonic Fury:
After a few hours of sleep and thinking it over here is my spoiler free take on Shin Gojira…..this is a very unique spin on the character. It’s hard to make a full judgment on the film without seeing it subtitled and a chunk of the story I didn’t understand. It’s a film that is heavy on dialogue. There are some wonderful nods to the original film and fun Easter eggs. However I need another viewing of the film.
I can only say that I enjoyed the film. Was it my absolute favorite, not at all, but it isn’t a mess either. With that being said, this film will definitely be divided among fans much like G2014 and final wars was.
There is some wonderful tension in the movie and very unexpected elements. Visually; the cinematography is some of the best in be series in my opinion. The filmmakers get artistic with shots and camera movements and that was something great to see. It also helped engage the audience during the dialogue scenes. But expect things you never saw before for the franchise.
Overall the special effects are good and Godzilla is just this walking death machine. He is massive and you really feel his presence.
There are things about the film that drive me nuts especially with the way he moves but I won’t get into those due to spoiling the film. My major complaint is that the ending is anti climatic. Though the film ends on what is very symbolic shot but it is certainly creepy.
I could go more in depth on the film but I hate the trend nowadays on social media with spoiling films for the mass majority. Movies are meant to be experienced together and to surprise it’s audience. In a culture full of instant gratification we need to take a step back and relinquish that. Shin Gojia either you love it, hate it, or are middle of be road, you should view it for yourself as the filmmakers attended.
The experience of seeing this film is something I won’t ever forget.
Update – Good friend Jim Sullivan of the excellent Hard-Boiled Kaijuland:
In some ways the rumors spread about Shin Gojira are right. There ARE a lot of meetings, and in many ways (contrary to superficially wild changes), this is indeed quite a conventional film.
But what spoilers and script readers don’t tell you is that this film is beautifully shot and edited, dripping with Anno’s masterful touch from scene to scene. It’s fast-paced, frenetic, bitingly satirical, and tense. “Boring meetings” in Anno’s hands are whiplash exchanges of information and rebukes among government officials, and the camerawork adds to the excitement.
The characters are surprising colorful and, even just in meetings, they come alive through action and expressive (or cold, intentionally stiff) delivery depending on the person.
I need subtitles to fully appreciate the dialogue and story, though. This is a talky movie and mostly above my vocabulary level in Japanese. In essence, Japan finds itself a country incapable of handling its own defense and decision-making in an effective way. As things grow more dire, outside pressure mounts, and Japan’s existence is threatened.
The performances are largely quite good. I’m surprised the movie is being called realistic, though–the characters are all exaggerated and intense. This works for me. More another time.
The effects range from passable (some CGI fails to impress) to fantastic when properly mixing CG and practical effects (and presenting them in clever ways).
The music is a mix of old and new–even Evangelion music appears! And the classic Gojira sound effects and Showa tracks somehow work. They’re kind of out of place in a way, but it’s also chilling.
There will be controversy about a few things. Maybe you know what they are already. Purists will be bugged, but see the movie yourself before turning against this exciting, fresh film. It has plenty of old and plenty of new, but what sets it apart is the masterfully artful direction.
This article will only be updated with spoiler-free reviews. We’ve discussed several spoiler details on the site so far, but they’ll be discussed in a separate post for those wishing to remain spoiler-free. I’ll save my own opinions for until I’ve seen the film multiple times and can write a proper review.
Look out for more spoiler-free reviews to be posted here.
Jon D. B.