The latest Godzilla movie from Toho is showing only irregularly here in Washington, DC – one night here, another night there. I saw it Tuesday night at the E Street Cinema (still the best movie theater in DC).
You can’t compare it to the recent, American Godzilla. Though that was a good movie, it was also, primarily, a monster movie. So what you say? How are the Toho movies and all their kaiju movies they inspired not monster movies? Serious? Are you stupid? Are you a Trump voter? Are you that stupid?
Ok, ok. Calm down. I get you.
But the Toho productions have always been, even at their silliest, informed by political concerns in a way that the American movies have not.
Shin Godzilla takes that to a whole new level. Even more than usual, Godzilla himself plays a relatively small role and has limited screen time. What’s more, during much of his screen time, he is sleeping (he sleeps standing up, in case you were curious).
Most of the movie consists of high level meetings of government officials and their aides. And it’s exciting. I kid you not. Even though they’re just meetings, it is amazingly fast paced. There are plenty of moments of humor and of the director and screenwriter rolling their eyes at bureaucracy and some high level bumbling. The Prime Minister and later the acting Prime Minister come in for some gentle mockery, but never does the movie disrespect the ability of political actors to accomplish things.
In fact, the final message of the movie (delivered with little subtlety in the final scenes) is the need for vigorous politicians to chart an independent path for Japan in a part of the world being rapidly dominated by concerns about China and North Korea, as well as US responses to those concerns.
So, go see it.