Godzilla Minus One

Godzilla Minus One is everything that you've heard it is and more. For fans of the genre, it's a must see
78/100101934
Starring
Ryunosuke Kamiki, Minami Hamabe
Director
Takashi Yamazaki
Rating
PG-13
Genre
Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
Release date
December 1, 2023
Overall Score
Rating Overview
Story/Plot
70%
Visuals/Cinematography
78%
Performance
65%
Direction
80%
Non-Wokeness
100%
Rating Summary
Godzilla Minus One is a fun and emotionally poignant addition to the franchise. Though it "suffers" some from a lack of technical sophistication it more than makes up for it with its emotionally accessible themes and ace direction.

Since its 1954 debut, Godzilla hasn’t just stomped through Tokyo; it’s mirrored societal fears, from nuclear dread to environmental concerns. Director Ishirō Honda and effects maestro Eiji Tsuburaya birthed a monster, yes, but also an icon that’s transcended borders and decades. Godzilla Minus One peels back the layers, exploring Godzilla’s legacy with the kind of scrutiny and reverence it rightfully deserves.

Godzilla Minus One

In 1945, as America prepares to deploy an unprecedented weapon of devastation, Japanese fighter pilot Koichi Shikishima grapples with his duty as a kamikaze pilot. Unable to fulfill his mission due to inner turmoil, he falsely reports airplane damage and lands at a secluded repair base on a distant island, avoiding the impending catastrophe.

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Upon returning to his decimated village, where he discovers the loss of his family and community, Shikishima is overwhelmed by guilt. However, his unexpected bond with a child and her guardian becomes the anchor that provides purpose amidst his profound shame.

When an unstoppable monster threatens to destroy everything that Shikishima and his people have rebuilt in the years after the war, he will have to face inner demons more powerful than Godzilla to win the day.

If you were lucky enough to grow up watching Honda Ishirō’s Godzilla movies with your dad, Godzilla Minus One is the full realization of the subgenre. Godzilla is ferocious and devastating without being schlocky or melodramatic. He is the manifestation of humanity’s destructive capacity unchecked, an unstoppable juggernaut wreaking havoc and washing the populous in misery and fear.

As far as the visuals go, they are effective, if not technically excellent. Godzilla’s Atomic Breath is done especially well, giving it a visceral feeling of lethal power beyond anything seen in previous iterations. However, neither Godzilla nor the other digital effects meet the quality standards most American summer blockbusters set.

Consider this: there are two types of ventriloquists: technical marvels whose lips never budge and funny ones. Both manage to pull off the illusion, but which one do you want to spend an hour watching?

The performances in Godzilla Minus One are hard to gauge. As is often the case, it’s a challenge to critique foreign films because many cultures have very different concepts of art, including performance, than those of Westerners. In Indian cinema, it’s expected for many types of films to spend a not insignificant amount of time on massive dance scenes that, to Western sensibilities, appear ridiculous and cartoonish.

While Godzilla Minus One doesn’t have anything like that, the performances of its main cast often come across as lacking an emotional presence to which many of us on this side of the ocean are accustomed. Whether that’s due to Japanese stoicism or middling performers, it’s hard to tell. That said, thanks to its superior direction, excellent score, and poignant A-story, even the weaker actors get the job done.

If Godzilla Minus One should teach Hollywood anything, it’s the level of profundity that the inclusion and respectful handling of meaningful character arcs that explore universal themes can bring to even something as simple and (let’s be honest) as ridiculous as a giant monster/disaster movie. However, they will likely learn nothing, and the next few years will be filled with mindless kaiju movies focused on the horrors of Global Warming.

Overall, Godzilla Minus One is a good time. Despite its heavy and serious tone, fans of the original material will love it from Godzilla’s first appearance (the best first appearance of the character), and when the modernized version of the classic Godzilla music kicks in, you’ll be absolutely hooked.

We are happy to mark it as Worth it.

WOKE ELEMENTS

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James Carrick

James Carrick is a passionate film enthusiast with a degree in theater and philosophy. James approaches dramatic criticism from a philosophic foundation grounded in aesthetics and ethics, offering insight and analysis that reveals layers of cinematic narrative with a touch of irreverence and a dash of snark.

10 comments

  • JB

    January 10, 2024 at 10:25 pm

    This flick was a total blast. My wife wanted to see it again the next day.

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    • Thisguy

      January 11, 2024 at 4:37 am

      My wife was so on the fence about seeing this, but she was really glad she did.

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      Reply

    • Godzilla fan 54

      February 7, 2024 at 3:24 pm

      My dad and his husband always argue. I wish they could be like you guys 🙁

      Reply

  • Thisguy

    January 11, 2024 at 4:36 am

    This was easily one of the best movies of the year. Generally, the Toho Godzilla movies draw on contemporary themes, and this on was based on the pandemic, specifically how governments really didn’t know what they were doing and how we all needed to make the change from a crisis/death mentality to living again.

    Reply

  • Hockstetter

    January 15, 2024 at 9:25 pm

    The fact that this movie didn’t get any love from the big awards (Oscars, Golden Globes, BAFTA) just goes to show how woke society has become.

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  • Godzilla fan 54

    February 7, 2024 at 3:23 pm

    All the kids at my school bully for liking dinosaurs n Godzilla on teh last day im gonna bring a copy of this movie to school and they’ll see why i love it so much and wont be mean to me anymore

    Reply

  • Ktuff_morning

    February 18, 2024 at 11:47 pm

    This movie has woke in it. The main subtext of Godzilla is Hiroshima and WW2. The filmmakers sanitized the history of Japan with respect to WW2 for a modern audience. The Kamikaze pilot should have fulfilled his honor by suiciding into Godzilla. He didn’t. He bailed out of his plane for double the dishonor. We all “learned” Kamikaze pilots’ sacrifices weren’t honorable. For Japan they WERE honorable hence the moral whitewash hence the woke. I mean, the woman sacrificed herself to save them. How is it ok for her to sacrifice herself for others and not him? The audience I saw the movie with booed the ending as did I. Especially the mother who ended up living after all-give me a break.

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    • Ktuff_morning

      February 23, 2024 at 10:48 am

      As I said the subtext for the original Godzilla was Hiroshima. Godzilla was originally meant as an excoriation of the US for the monstrous Hiroshima bombing, and an ongoing symbol of shame for the US (and by implication a symbol of nationalistic pride for Japan). Godzilla Minus One takes Godzilla back to first principles, and one step before, hence the title. What precluded Hiroshima (minus one) is the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan, exemplified by Kamikaze pilots.

      BUT…we are “taught” in the movie Kamikaze pilots were wrong and by that inference Japan bears the ultimate responsibility for Hiroshima (and the menace of Godzilla), as if two wrongs make a right. Worse, as if one wrong justified an egregiously monstrous wrong; as if there were a moral equivalence between Kamikaze fighter pilots attacking a military base and the annihilation of hundreds of thousands of civilians.

      Godzilla Minus One is a retcon of Godzilla as a symbol of US shame & Japanese pride to an immoral false equivalence. It’s a propaganda piece that sanitizes the horror of Hiroshima.

      Whoever you think the bad guys and the good guys are is irrelevant. Your perspective doesn’t matter. You don’t matter. From Japan’s perspective there can’t be anything more woke and their perspective is what matters because it’s Godzilla…or it WAS Godzilla up until this movie. Mic drop.

      Reply

      • Sweet Deals

        February 24, 2024 at 7:48 pm

        I’m no Japanese historian, but I do know that Japan has traditionally been an honor-based culture. The samurai had a code of honor called “bushido” that taught that these members of the elite had to behave honorably at all times. A samurai was bound by honor to kill himself (or herself, if you were a woman in a samurai family) in order to avoid a dishonorable fate or atone for a dishonorable action. Suicide may be frowned upon in the West, but traditional Japanese culture was not Judeo-Christian. The kamikaze pilots of WWII were an extension of that honor culture.

        What you’re suggesting, that the film implies that kamikaze suicide pilots weren’t honorable, would be like the Japanese equivalent of toppling statues of American war heroes because they fought for the Confederacy during the American Civil War. The American South was also an honor culture, and even though they supposedly fought on the “wrong” side, that doesn’t mean they didn’t fight bravely for the sake of their homeland.

        But I’m not entirely certain if what you’re saying is what the film intended to say. The pilot does feel shame for bailing out on false pretenses instead of doing his duty and does what he can to atone for it by helping survivors, sweeping for mines and doing everything he can to fight Godzilla. Does he regain his honor or does he spend the rest of his life in shame?

        Reply

        • Ktuff_morning

          February 25, 2024 at 2:49 pm

          Good word bushido. In so many words this movie is a betrayal of bushido and hence woke.

          Reply

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