I learned this weekend that there have been over 70 films made about Godzilla. The monster has fascinated film makers since 1954, in both Japan and Hollywood.
This Japanese language version is one of the best I've seen. Leaving behind the Hollywood glamour and destruction, and focusing on the human stories.
The monster is one of the best, an angry and hateful Godzilla. The violence is senseless, powerful and unremitting.
The story is set in post-war Japan, a country already reeling from the defeat of World War Two. After some skirmishes on distant islands, Godzilla makes its way towards Tokyo.
Our key protagonist is Shikishima, a pilot, who encounters the monster early in the story. Later, we see him back in Tokyo forming an unlikely family unit with Noriko and looking after an orphan child. Soon, Shikishima is using his military skills on a boat sent to track the approaching Monster.
As disaster approaches, it is private citizens that pull together to tackle Godzilla. It's a plan that made me lean forward in my chair to understand, and anxious for its success. Our hero appears at the heart of this plan, with a fitting redemptive end.
In the aftermath of World War Two, I found it interesting that Godzilla is not tackled by military means. It is ingenuity, love, and resilience that find the way. This is a vision of a nation needing success after a punishing war.
The film is beautifully made, with great acting and excellent acting. The monster looks uncanny, with CGI that doesn't feel cartoonish. Even when unleashing its ultimate weapon, I didn't feel like I was watching animation. There is nothing fun about this monster, it's a brutal version, far from my childhood Godzilla.
The soundtrack by Naoki Sato is strong, and the cinematography is simple and easy on the eye. The destruction scenes in Tokyo have real power, rendered superbly.
This was a delight to watch, excellent Sunday afternoon entertainment.