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The Uproar

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A Monster of a Movie

A recently Japan-exclusive Godzilla film is now rampaging through US theaters.
A+Monster+of+a+Movie
Toho Co. Ltd.

Everyone’s favorite apocalyptic alligator of anarchy is back to causing havoc in theaters.  And this time, he’s back on his home turf.

After a monstrous brawl of world-ending proportions back in 2021’s Godzilla vs Kong, fans have been patiently waiting for the atomic icon’s next on-screen rampage. And, while the next chapter of the American “monsterverse” saga is yet to be released, a limited time screening of Japan’s newest Godzilla film has reached American theaters for just one week. 

From November 29th to (at least) December 14th, Godzilla:Minus One, directed by Takashi Yamazaki, will premiere in the US. Despite this limited window for viewership, Godzilla Minus One has been particularyl well received by both critics and fans alike.

Godzilla Minus One is distinctly disconnected from the rest of the monsterverse franchise. Intended to be a reboot of the 1954 classic, Godzilla, the movie takes a completely different approach to the rampaging reptile.  Instead of having Godzilla serve as a misunderstood, animalistic, and defensive being, Godzilla Minus One shows the beast as an entirely evil powerhouse.  

Despite his gargantuan size, this version of Godzilla feels more intentional in his actions rather than simply a force of nature.  This Godzilla is constantly enraged and aggressive towards absolutely everything that crosses his path.  He unleashes a counterattack for each blow made against him, and he possesses no capacity for mercy or restraint.  These characteristics of a psychopathic killer make the revamped Godzilla a terrifyingly detestable titan.  Such animosity and fear towards the beast allows for intensely suspenseful action and beautifully crafted horror.

Despite his gargantuan size, this version of Godzilla feels more intentional in his actions rather than simply a force of nature.

In terms of the monster’s overall design, Toho Studios reverted back to the more classic appearance.  With a rounder head, smaller proportions, and devilish eyes, the retro makeover for Godzilla works wonders for the movie’s intensity.  The rest of the movie’s visuals are also stunning.  With a comparatively small budget of $15 million, Toho Studios created visual effects that rival and, in many cases, surpass recent Hollywood blockbusters. The most awe-inspiring visual of the film is by far Godzilla’s “heat ray,” or as many fans know it, atomic breath. The concentrated beam of blue, the shockwaves of disaster, and the eerily reminiscent mushroom cloud aftermath create an alluring yet frightening explosion that contends with the artistic prowess of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer.  

In an additional effort to revert Godzilla to his original source material, Yamazaki set the movie in the aftermath of WWII. With no advanced technology or prior knowledge of the monster, Japan is set on a collision course with anarchy only two years after being rocked by atomic bombs. 

Godzilla was initially intended to personify nuclear destruction and warn humanity about the atom bomb’s apocalyptic capabilities. Minus One echoes this theme heavily, as the film holds a focus on rebuilding and grief. Most notably, though, the people tasked with fighting the titanic tyrant possess real human hesitation towards staring atomic destruction in the face once again.  Many young veterans show genuine fear and anxiety surrounding a duty to fight the monster. This raw emotive response derives intensity and gut wrenching trauma from every aspect of the film.

In most horror or monster films, the characters fall flat.  The Godzilla franchise is no exception.  However, in Godzilla Minus One, characterization is dynamic, intriguing, and personable.  The viewer begins to feel pity, attachment, and anguish through the wonderfully acted story each character depicts.  

While each of the main characters in Minus One is expertly acted and written, one stands out beyond the rest: Shikishima (Kamiki Ryunosuke). Shikishima serves as the viewer’s eyes for most of the film. A failed kamikaze pilot, Shikishima carries a heavy burden throughout the story.  Attempting to support his makeshift family and redeem himself for past mistakes, Shikishima comes face to face with Godzilla.  Tormented by nightly PTSD and severe panic attacks, he gives a heartbreaking performance in every scene.  Serving as one of the few complex characters in modern horror films, Shikishima is a masterclass in storytelling and acting.

From its well-crafted plotline to its intensely realistic characters, Godzilla Minus One rights many of the past sins from the modern Godzilla franchise.  The beast itself shines behind well done CGI and an electrifying score. Although the film is confined to limited time in American theaters, audiences vouch that Godzilla Minus One rivals– and possibly even surpasses– the quality of other 2023 hits, such as Spiderman: Across the Spider Verse, John Wick 4, and Oppenheimer. There’s simply nothing to dislike about this monster of a film, so catch it while you still can.

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About the Contributor
Brady Crow
Brady Crow, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Brady Crow is a senior for the 2023-2024 school year.  He's a Co-Editor-in-Chief for the Uproar this year and is excited for the opportunity to write and read many fascinating articles.  When not writing for the Uproar, Brady enjoys working at his church, going to the gym, and taking care of his pet lizard.

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    Sal GutierrezJan 2, 2024 at 11:44 pm

    Perfect synopsis! This movie is incredible.

    Reply