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Film Review: Shin Godzilla

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Shin Godzilla, directed by Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi, was met with critical acclaim in Japan after its release there last summer.

Now, with limited screenings in the UK, people can witness the succesful return of the iconic monster in what is a really fun, well made film.

The film follows the Japanese government, as they try to figure out how to deal with a huge unidentified monster that, after rising from the Tokyo bay, has gone on to wreak havoc throughout the city. With the situation worsening by the minute, the government attempt to ward off destructive foreign intervention whilst trying to take down the huge invader themselves.

Wasting no time whatsoever, Shin Godzilla begins almost immediately with the monster’s first attack on the city and very quickly introduces several key characters and locations.

From the first minute, the film moves at a relentless pace with everything happening very quickly. This is excellent however, as a lot of the movie consists of politicians merely discussing what to do with the Godzilla problem but the speed at which these conversations move keep it from becoming boring.

This fast pace can be attributed to the film's excellent editing on the part of Anno and Atsuki Sako, with no-one-shot lasting for very long before being sharply cut to the next. This helps to keep Shin Godzilla entertaining throughout, as even when people are doing nothing but talking, the speed at which we move from scene to scene keeps the film feeling exciting and intense.

The film’s pace also serves to better a lot of its humour. The government’s meetings particularly in the early portion of the movies are mostly very funny with some very well written dialogue being the cause for lots of laughs.

There is also humour in the sheer number of locations and characters we’re introduced to. It pokes fun at the tedious government procedures followed throughout and the joke pays off through the ridiculous number of ministers and generals that are involved come the film's end.

Despite the film not taking itself too seriously for the majority of the time, Shin Godzilla is still able to produce some well-crafted, serious moments that will be sure to leave an effect on the audience; one example being a fantastic night sequence that involves a US-led assault on Godzilla.

Everything in that scene from the cinematography to the soundtrack departs from the film’s light-hearted feel and helps to create a very powerful moment. Director, Anno, who also wrote the film was able to handle these tonal shifts very well as nothing feels out of place.

Thanks to the endless amount of characters we are introduced to, the film has a huge cast list. The stand-out performers though, are Hiroki Hasegawa as Rando Yaguchi and Ren Osugi who plays Prime Minister Seiji Okochi. Hasegawa is a great lead, bringing a lot of fury to the role, especially in the film’s later stages.

Osugi on the other hand is incredibly funny as the clueless Okochi, with his dead pan performance sure to be a memorable one.

However, Shin Godzilla is not without its flaws, one of which being the quality of its special effects. Although the use of both models and CGI were incorporated into the production of the film, it is very noticeable when the digital effects are on screen.

This serves as a distraction throughout the film, but the ridiculousness of the plot overall means that some of the bad effects don’t feel as out of place as they would have in a film that was less self-aware.

Also, the film slows down a bit in the early stages of the final act. Whilst there is nothing wrong with the quality of the plot during this time, it’s just a bit jarring after considering that everything prior had moved at such a fast pace.

Other than that, Shin Godzilla is a great film, being both well made and written. Certainly one of the best monster movies of recent years, it's a ton of fun with its ridiculous plot being well balanced by some great humour.

Shin Godzilla is out now, distributed by National Amusements.

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