Hello again, eager readers!
Welcome to Part 2 of my Shin Godzilla Review, complete with all the juicy spoilers from the climax of this masterpiece of a film. Be sure to check out Part 1 here first, or read my Spoiler Free Review if you’d rather be surprised when the film hits North American Theaters later this year!
(Again, before starting… GIGANTIC SPOILERS LIE AHEAD, INCLUDING THE END OF THE FILM AND THE REVEAL OF MORE OF GODZILLA’S NEW POWERS! PLEASE STOP READING NOW IF YOU WANT TO BE SURPRISED!!!! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!!)
With that out of the way, let’s pick up where we left off…
In the wake of Godzilla’s near biblical destruction of downtown Tokyo, the Japanese people are left in a state of confusion, panic, and terror. All attempts to kill the monster, even with the combined might of the Japanese and American military, have failed, and the unholy giant now rests, stiff as a statue, in the middle of the destroyed city, slowly recharging his energy. Godzilla’s devastating attack reduced Tokyo to a smoldering wasteland, and wiped out both the Prime Minister and his entire cabinet. In due time, a second Prime Minister assumes control, and soon begins to fall under the influence of the UN. The UN have a very direct plan to deal with Godzilla, and it’s one that has popped up in other films in the series before: they want to nuke him, believing the monster will not survive a full on assault from nuclear weapons.
Although this development has been utilized in several other Godzilla films (including 1984’s The Return of Godzilla and even the 2014 Godzilla), this film presents it in a very different (and more realistic) way, with many members of the Japanese government opposing the action, and others agreeing that it is the only option. Even our third main character, Aid to the former and new Prime Minister Hideki Akasaka (Yutaka Takenouchi), ultimately supports the use of atomic weapons, believing that, as long as ample time is given to evacuate the city, the sacrifice will be worth it. He has also been assured that the UN will help Japan rebuild, and so comes to peace with the atomic bombing of his homeland. The bowing of the Japanese government to UN pressure is in stark contrast to the firm stance taken by the Japanese Prime Minister in The Return of Godzilla, and (much like the Cold War era 1984 film) reflects the current political atmosphere of Japan, which often sees the Prime Minister and the Japanese government bowing to foreign pressures, often from the US government.
Yaguchi and Kyoko, however, remain steadfastly opposed to the use of nuclear weapons. Yaguchi believes that an alternative, and less destructive, method of disposing of the monster can ultimately be discovered, and Kyoko, despite pressure from her American father (a powerful government official) and her own political aspirations back in America, doesn’t want Japan to suffer from the destructive use of nuclear weapons. Furthermore, Kyoko informs Yaguchi that plans are moving forward to transfer control over Godzilla, and the decision to use nukes on him, entirely to the UN. Yaguchi refuses to accept this, and quickly reforms Team Yaguchi to study the monster in its dormant state, desperate to find anything that could help defeat the monster in a less destructive way.
The first major discovery by Team Yaguchi, courtesy of some rapidly growing Godzilla tissue samples (likely spawned from the red liquid that erupted during his body from the B2 bombing attack) is that the monster’s cells reproduce asexually, allowing individual cells to grow and develop at an alarming rate. This is less like the asexual reproduction of Tristar’s (God)Zilla, and a bit more comparable to Sanda and Gaira’s cell reproduction from Ishiro Honda’s 1966 kaiju classic War of the Gargantuas. In that film, tissue from the hairy beast Sanda is torn off and washed downstream, eventually arriving at the ocean, feeding on microscopic sea life, and developing into a second hairy giant. It is theorized in the film that attacking the Gargantua Brothers with artillery shells will cause their cells to spread, likely spawning countless more giants. Although this possibility is never discussed in Shin Godzilla, the implication that Godzilla’s cells are capable of spawning more Godzillas, or perhaps different kaiju, is there. This is also teased at the end of the film, but more on that later.
Ultimately, it is discovered that Godzilla is slowly recharging his energy, and will awaken from his state of dormancy in 360 hours, giving Team Yaguchi just two weeks to discover what they can and formulate a possible solution to the problem of disposing with Godzilla. Yaguchi pleads with Akasaka to give him more time, and to hold the nuclear attack off for as long as possible. Akasaka agrees, and Team Yaguchi desperately searches for the key to discovering the secrets of Godzilla’s cellular structure and internal mechanisms as Tokyo is slowly evacuated.
Finally, as the clock continues to count down, a breakthrough discovery is made. The answer was right there in front of them the whole time, cleverly hidden within the artifacts collected from the late Goro Maki, the man who named and studied Godzilla. Found in the envelope aboard his deserted ship in Tokyo Bay were strange diagrams that couldn’t be deciphered, along with an origami crane. The crane is the key to the entire mystery, and when the bizarre, map-like diagrams are folded into specific origami shapes, the resulting data finally reveals the molecular structure of Godzilla. With Maki’s brilliant code, meant to protect his work on studying the monster, deciphered, it is ultimately discovered that Godzilla processes a cooling system within his body, similar to a nuclear reactor, that acts to cool the rampant, radioactive heat within him. Yaguchi and his team theorize that if a coagulant can be developed that speeds up this cooling system, freezing Godzilla’s circulatory system and keeping his body from reheating naturally, then the creature can finally be stopped. A race against time begins to develop this coagulant before Godzilla returns, and the UN is forced to nuke the monster.
With a mere two days left before the creature’s return, a formula for the coagulant is finally discovered. However, there is a tragic catch: it takes three days to develop. Facing nearly insurmountable pressure, Team Yaguchi desperately seeks outside help, and scientists from France and Germany step up to aid in the development of the coagulant. Finally, on the morning of Godzilla’s return, the “Yaguchi Plan” is put into effect as Japan’s last hope.
After delivering a rousing speech to his men, Yaguchi begins the epic operation to bring Godzilla down for good. Triggered explosions bring Godzilla out of his state of dormancy, and a series of further explosions incur the wrath of the beast. He unleashes his highly destructive purple ray from both his mouth and from his back, quickly expending energy. The sequence is highly exciting and creatively shot by Shinji Higuchi with a mixture of practical effects and CGI, creating tension and a sense of old school tokusatsu fun. However, perhaps the most exciting and sincerely awesome aspect of this sequence is the presence of yet another classic Akira Ifukube track, this time the epic “Battle in Outer Space” march from the 1959 film of the same name. As most fans know, this piece, adapted from the Japanese military march written for the original 1954 Godzilla (which was itself developed from a WWII march named “Kishi Mai”) later went on to be fully developed into the famous “Monster Zero March”, A.K.A. the Main Theme from Godzilla vs Monster Zero (1965). Hearing this epic theme (one of my personal favorite Ifukube pieces from one of my favorite of his scores) set to the incredible visuals of Anno and Higuchi’s film is powerful, and it will be a special moment for any Godzilla fan watching this incredible climax.
Ultimately, after Godzilla expends a great deal of his recently charged energy, yet another series of explosions is triggered, this time in two surrounding buildings. The massive structures collapse onto the monster, knocking him to the ground and pinning him to the streets below. At this point, phase two of the operation goes into effect, and tanker trucks loaded with the coagulant speed towards the downed creature. With their massive hoses extended into the creatures open mouth, the trucks begin pumping the coagulant into Godzilla. However, the massive monster is not done fighting yet, and quickly begins to struggle, ultimately rising up onto his legs again and destroying the trucks. With the first attempt failed, Yaguchi initiates his backup plan. Moments later, several of Japan’s famous bullet trains, all loaded with explosives, begin shooting down the tracks Godzilla is standing on, and begin exploding upon impact with the monster’s feet, legs, and chest. Enraged, Godzilla once again unleashes a purple atomic blast, this time revealing a terrifying new ability when yet another purple beam escapes from the tip of his tail, allowing the monster to attack from the front and the back. Godzilla’s tail whips around, swinging the slicing laser in every direction. However, Godzilla has fallen into Yaguchi’s trap. Weakened, and with much of his atomic energy expended, the monster falls when yet another massive explosion is triggered by Yaguchi’s men, and this time, the tanker trucks are able to deliver a massive amount of coagulant into Godzilla’s body. Again, the monster recovers and rises, but it is too late… the coagulant takes effect, and as the monster prepares for another attack, his body once again solidifies like a statue, this time against his will. With his body no longer able to recharge energy, Godzilla, the bizarre and nightmarish beast that emerged from the sea like an angry god to level Tokyo and horrify the world, stands peacefully still in the center of the city, defeated at last.
In the end, it is not the government or the armies of the world that bring Godzilla down, but the people. The final plan of attack against Godzilla is not a military approach, but rather an industrial approach. The monster that could not be brought down with bullets, artillery shells, missiles or bombs is brought to his knees by the industrial hallmarks of Japanese society, including buildings, vehicles, and even bullet trains. Just as with the original film, a responsible use of science is the key to salvation, and the people of Japan do what even the technologically superior militaries of the world cannot.
In the wake of Godzilla’s defeat, the nuclear attack on Japan is called off, and the country begins the arduous task of rebuilding. Yaguchi is vindicated, and he and Kyoko part ways as friends. However, Yaguchi, much like Dr. Yamane before him, has a final, ominous warning to deliver in the final moments of the film: translated from the program book, Yaguchi’s line reads, “We need to find a way to coexist with Godzilla. It’s not over yet.”
Make of that what you will.
The film’s final shot is a pan across Godzilla inert body, and a tease of epic proportions: an all too brief look at the skeletal tip of Godzilla’s tail, from which it appears several humanoid skeletons, all sporting Godzilla-like spines, have begun to sprout. Perhaps Godzilla’s tail beam attack caused the emergence of these bizarre beings, the unfolding of the mystifying skeletons that have been confusing and stumping fans since the design was first revealed. What exactly could this shot mean, and what are these beings? Are they offspring, a bud of Proto-Godzillas ready to break free of their parent upon his revival? Are they mutated humans, perhaps victims of Godzilla? Or, perhaps, could they be the beginning forms of new kaiju that could grow and develop from the body of Godzilla? Could new and terrifying versions of future enemy monsters (perhaps even returning Toho favorites) be spawned from Godzilla himself?
For now, all we can do is guess, speculate, and continue to be mystified, because following this cryptic shot, the credits begin to roll. Anno and Higuchi have left this baby WIDE open for a sequel, and based on the film’s record shattering box office performance and universal critical praise, it’s really only a matter of time before we get the answers that American fans are sure to start asking when they finally get the chance to see the film later this year.
(It should also be noted that the end credit music is ENTIRELY Ifukube classics, starting with the main theme from Godzilla (1954) before moving into the main them from Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964), the “Monster Zero March” from Monster Zero (1965), and finally, the opening theme to Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla II (1993). It’s truly a hell of a way to finish the experience of watching this film.)
On one final note, it’s worth bringing up a key aspect of Japanese audiences. In Japan, silence during and after a movie is the greatest compliment an audience can give a film. No one generally leaves the theater during the credits, and on both my viewings, not only did the audience stay put in their seats until after the IMAX logo appeared following the credits, but they remained dead silent, a sure sign that they respected what they had seen. However, perhaps the greatest sign of the film’s success was a story another member of my tour group shared with me after from a third viewing he attended. Following the appearance of the IMAX logo, the audience apparently gave the film a standing ovation, rising from their seats, clapping, and chanting “GO-JI-RA! GO-JI-RA!” It was a story that nearly brought tears to my eyes, and filled my heart with relief and joy.
Ladies and gentlemen, Godzilla is back. And for the first time in what feels like a lifetime, he is again beloved in the country he was created in.
As the impressive box office numbers continue to roll in, and the praise continues to accumulate, I can’t help but feel a sense of awe and an almost dreamlike feeling of wonder, knowing that I was there to experience it all firsthand. Watching this film on opening day, seeing Japan celebrate the King of the Monsters, walking by the red carpet premier, and simply being there as it all happened are experiences that I will never forget, and mean more to me than words can express. I am so glad to be able to share all that I saw, and that feeling of wonder, here with my fellow fans.
Part political drama, part allegorical horror film, and part old fashioned creature flick, Shin Godzilla is a remarkable achievement. It has broken new ground in the series, and, although it honors the origins of the character, and feels very much like a Godzilla film, it has truly left the old world of Godzilla behind. Trust me when I say, you have NEVER seen a Godzilla film like this before. The film does many new things, and takes a hell of a lot of risks. But in the end, all of those risks payed off, and from the combined talents of hundreds of men and women behind the scenes, fueled by passion, respect, and 12 years of anticipation by fans around the world, a masterpiece has been born. I don’t think I’d be too out of line to say that Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi have created THE definitive Godzilla film for a generation. These two old-school tokusatsu nerds and longtime friends can rest easy… they’ve done the Big Guy proud.
Thank you all for taking the time to read my thoughts on this film; your kind words and support mean more to me than I can say. I hope you’ve enjoyed this sneak peek at a film that I cannot wait for all of you to see. Believe me when I say, it will blow you away. Be sure to leave any questions in the comments section below, and I will do my best to answer them.
As more news on Shin Godzilla, its impending release in America, and future Godzilla projects in Japan and in America continues to develop, be sure to keep it locked to Scified!
LONG LIVE THE KING!
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This article was written By Danzilla93 and published on 2016-08-27 23:28:24
More about upcoming Godzilla movies
Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) is the sequel to Michael Dougherty's Godzilla 2: King of the Monsters and will be the fourth and final installment in the Monsterverse movie quadrilogy. It will also bridge both the Godzilla movies and Kong: Skull Island by bringing Godzilla and Kong face-to-face for an epic match-up. To learn more about Godzilla vs. Kong, check out the Godzilla vs. Kong about page here!
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