“Godzilla Minus One” (“Gojira-1.0”)


Metacritic (4/10), Letterboxd (2/5), Imdb.com (4/10), TMDB.com (4/10)

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve never been a fan of Japanese monster movies, and, considering how many times the Godzilla story has been told so far, I’ve never been particularly interested in seeing any of them (after all, how many different variations can realistically be incorporated into the big guy’s single-minded mythos?). In any event, I relented in this case, because I was admittedly curious to see the film’s Oscar-winning visual effects, which, in all honesty, weren’t bad (though definitely not outstanding – how this picture bested the far-superior visuals of “The Creator” truly baffles me). However, capable special effects and production design considerations aside (the basis for the generous ratings I’ve given to this title), this release has little else to offer that hasn’t already been depicted countless times before. What’s more, the film’s attempts at trying to incorporate post-World War II political commentary and to be more than just a simplistic monster movie are fairly lame. Its non-devastation story threads are frequently predictable, heavy-handed, slowly paced, occasionally corny, often implausible, and, above all, boring. I frankly couldn’t wait for these segments to end and get back to the supposed “it” factor – the monster’s destructive hijinks (of which, to be perfectly honest, there were too few, given that this is supposed to be this offering’s primary drawing card). Even the title of this production needs work; any picture that requires a Google search to find out what it’s supposed to mean has inherent issues in my book. To its credit, writer-director Takashi Yamazaki’s effort to elevate the Godzilla narrative above the B movie camp fest level genuinely seems sincere, but the end product is little more than the standard item with better visuals and a well-intentioned (but largely failed) aim at infusing the story with more substantive content. In light of the many iterations of this saga that have been filmed over the years, I think it’s high time to give the persecuted sea monster a well-deserved rest for a while – a long while – and get on with the business of making movies that aren’t tiresome retreads and that at last give Tokyo a chance to rebuild.