- “Godzilla minus one” It is a Japanese film produced to celebrate the giant reptile's 70th birthday.
- The film is a reset of the series and a return to the origins, when the Kaijū (“brutal beast”) trope said something important about humanity, and wasn't just pure fun.
- It's an excellent spectacle with lively, majestic fight scenes and an epic scope.
- The title is included in the lists of the best productions of 2023.
To paraphrase one of Tarantino's heroes, I can't help but ask: Is this the best Godzilla film since the Ishirō Honda classic? Could this be the best Godzilla film since the Ishirō Honda classic? “Godzilla minus one” It's a completely conventional film made to celebrate the giant reptile's 70th birthday. There is style in the exquisite simplicity that Steven Spielberg brought to cinema in Jaws. It is not the monster itself that frightens us, but the constant anticipation of its arrival. This is what Takashi Yamazaki builds to in the next installment (is it already #34?) of Godzilla's run around the world. This film is a reset for the series and a return to the origins, when the metaphor of the Kaijū (“brutal beast”) told us something important about humanity, and wasn't just pure fun.
“Godzilla Minus One” is, of course, a spectacle, made for a modest $15 million. The Japanese are putting aside the latest Marvel gum, proving that the heart still matters in cinema, not just a big wallet. Yamakaze returns to Japan in 1946, when postwar trauma and fear of an unknown future were shaping a new society. We see this fear in kamikaze pilot Koichi Shikishima (Ryunosuke Kamiki), who lands at a military base on Odo Island in the final weeks of the war. Shikishima does not want to sacrifice himself in order to lose the war. However, she won't be leaving him anytime soon. Only the dead saw the end of it.
The island is attacked by a terrifying aquatic creature, called Godzilla by the locals, causing Koichi's survival instinct to take over once again. Because of his fear and a moment of hesitation, the monster attacks his companions. Everyone will die. Except for the person who would become his inner enemy. After returning to Tokyo, the disgraced soldier tries to make a home with shelter-seeking Noriko (Minami Hamabe), whose family died in a bombing and who cared for a child found on the street. However, Shikishima is unable to find happiness. He is still haunted by the fact that he failed his comrades-in-arms. Then the monster returns. One from the depths of the ocean and one from the depths of his heart and mind.
“Godzilla Minus One” is the story of Japan's recovery after losing World War II, coming to terms with the brutal empire and the story of those who felt guilty for having survived and not been the victims of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Ultimately, it is a film about the hope with which the Japanese succeeded in building post-war prosperity. However, fear remained in their souls. He's somewhere deep in the ocean, waiting to wake up. How do you defeat him? Rebuilding society and rejecting the vision of a homeland that, as one soldier says, has never respected individual life.
Don't worry, this story isn't about moralizing. “Godzilla Minus One” is, above all, a perfectly calibrated spectacle with energetic, majestic scenes of Godzilla fighting the Japanese fleet, the epic scale of the city’s destruction, and the whole thing is embellished with the iconic finale of Akira Ifukube’s “Gojira.” . Is there pathos in this? He is. Is there sentimentality in this? He is. However, there is an honesty to all of this, which is what places the Japanese blockbuster several levels above anything ever produced in high-budget cinema by the decision-makers in Hollywood's “dream factory.”
Here we witness a nightmare from which the entire nation wakes up. A nightmare symbolized by evil returning from the depths of the ocean, brutally destroying everything they try to build. Evil can only be destroyed by cutting oneself off from the past, which requires one's blind obedience. And all this in a movie about a radioactive marine “dinosaur” that breathes blue fire and roars loudly.
“Godzilla minus one”, monastery. Takashi Yamazaki, Japan 2023, Distributor: Piece of Magic Entertainment, Cinema Premiere: December 1, 2023.
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