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Godzilla: Minus One

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

Decades ago when I was a kid, there was nothing better than discovering a Saturday morning monster movie on TV. So it seemed fitting to head out this morning to see the much buzzed about new film, GODZILLA MINUS ONE.

Unfortunately, it generated what I love to do on a weekend these days, which is to take a nap.

There are things to admire in this new film, first and foremost the ability of Writer/Director Takashi Yamazaki to create what looks like a $100 million+ movie on a $15m budget. The special effects and action sequences are first rate.

The film opens in the waning days of WWII, with failed Kamikaze pilot Shikishima (Ryunosuke Kamiki) landing on a remote airstrip to face the fact that he did not complete his mission. Godzilla emerges from the sea and reins havoc in the first of the action scenes by Yamazaki. It's exciting and tension filled with true "Jurassic Park" vibes to it.

The story then follows Shikishima returning to a bombed out Tokyo in search of his family, who have all died in the war's firestorms. He meets a young woman named Yoriko (Minami Hamabe) who's carrying around an orphaned baby. It's the warzone, tragic opposite of what Roger Ebert used to call a "meet cute" but the trio bonds over survival.

The film then enters a lonnnnngggggggg story phase with the child growing up a few years, the land slowly (did I mention how slowly?) crawling back from the devestation of war. Honestly I was so bored for about 35-45 minutes that I think I slipped into my first nap.

After atomic bomb tests, a much bigger Godzilla emerges from the sea and stomps into the city in the best scene in the film. We've all seen the original Godzilla movies where a dude in a rubber suit stomps on models. We're way past that here. This is the 75th anniversary of the film series and I credit Yamazaki and his creative team in creating a city attack sequence that stands alongside Spielberg's "aliens emerging from the ground" scene in "War of the Worlds" and Peter Jackson's King Kong loose in NYC.

But then we settle back into a lot of exposition before our Kamikaze pilot finds an opportunity for redemption as he tries to take out our title monster.

The final twenty minutes is exciting and fun but it feels like it takes a very long time to get there. (Insert more naps here)

The human story between the lead characters is more richly drawn than you'd expect for a creature feature, but I never felt like Kamiki and Hamabe had any chemistry to make us root for them to be together.

It's not the subtitles in the way. If you haven't seen one of this year's best films, "Past Lives"(run to see it if you havent!) its two leads have palpable chemistry in every frame, even though the film is spoken in Korean with subtitles.

These two, Meh.

The buzz for this film has been so strong and so over the top, I was excited to see it, but honestly it only reached its true potential during the city attack with Yoriko on the way to work. As Naoki Sato's music film soars and slams us forward and Godzilla steps on 50 people at once and wipes out massive buildings with his tail, this one had my attention.

Alas, that lasted about as long as a slow dude trying to outrun this giant lizard.

GODZILLA MINUS ONE gets a B Minus One, also known as a disappointing C.

If he's done attacking something, I'll go back to sleep now..........

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