The Great Godzilla Movie Marathon: Part 4 – The Reiwa Series

The Great Godzilla Movie Marathon: Part 4 – The Reiwa Series

Hi crew! šŸ‘‹šŸ» We’ve reached the end of the Japanese movies with the Reiwa series! Despite technically starting in the Heisei era (1989-2019), the Reiwa series is the most recent and current GodzillaĀ series and also the shortest with only four feature-length movies so far. We do have theĀ Godzilla Singular PointĀ anime on Netflix and three short films that are available on YouTube, but I’m not going to talk about those. There don’t appear to be any plans for live-actionĀ GodzillaĀ movies, but my fingers are crossed considering that Toho could just be keeping it a secret.

For the last time, I watched these movies in their original Japanese with English subtitles, but I didn’t have to go searching across the internet for them because I ownĀ Shin GodzillaĀ on DVD and the three anime movies are Netflix exclusives. At last! The three Netflix movies are available dubbed in English and other languages, but I still went for the Japanese track because why break tradition?

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Shin GodzillaSHIN GODZILLA

Directed by Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi
Released 2016
Run time: 120 mins (2 hrs)
My Rating –

Talented, brilliant, incredible, amazing, show-stopping, spectacular, never the same, totally unique, completely not ever been done before, unafraid to reference or not reference, put it in a blender, shit on it, vomit on it, eat it, give birth to it.

When I say that the darker, more politicalĀ GodzillaĀ movies are my favourites, I really mean it andĀ Shin GodzillaĀ is the most political of them all. The movie was made as a critique of the Japanese government’s sluggish response to the 2012 Fukushima nuclear disaster and it is aĀ scathingĀ one. In fact, the political side of this movie still rings true today with how governments around the world have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, including Japan. I totally get why people think that this movie focuses too much on politics and not enough on Godzilla, but this is just my taste: I like it when monsters are metaphors for something and you don’t get more metaphorical than Godzilla.

Speaking of Godzilla himself, IĀ loveĀ the design that he has in this movie. Traditional suitmation isn’t used anymore in favour of CGI and motion capture technology but every time that Godzilla appears in his full evolved form, my brain runs laps trying to figure out how they made a CGI monster look like a rubber and latex costume. I’ve now watched this movie three times and the only times where I thought the effects didn’t look too good weren’t Godzilla himself. The design is gloriously creepy, making Godzilla look like a terrifying monster again with the red accents, spines that look like cancerous bones, a mouth inside a mouth, and teeth that grow out of his skin. He really looks like a mutated creature and it works so well for the dark story that the producers wanted to tell.

Another thing for me to gush about is how many direct homages are made to past movies of the franchise. We hear many different Godzilla roars being used and parts of the original Akira Ifukube score from the 1954 movie are used rather than rearrangements. This feels like both a love letter to the franchise as well as a reboot and a political commentary.

As for the only thing that stops this movie from getting a full five stars: one casting choice is a questionable one and an understandable one at the same time. The character Kayoko Anne Patterson is an American envoy for the US government who is supposed to be American-born Japanese and speaks Japanese as a second language, but they cast a native Japanese actor who has such a strong accent when speaking English that I struggled to understand what she was saying at times. This happens when any other Japanese character speaks English because my hearing comprehension is atrocious and for some reason translated subtitles don’t include captions for English dialogue. It may be a little unfair for me to judge a movie based on my own terrible hearing comprehension, but if I miss parts of dialogue because I can’t understand what the characters are saying, it’s going to impact how much I enjoy the movie.

Oh, and here’s a fun fact for you: this movie won Best Picture at the Japanese Academy Awards.

Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters

GODZILLA: PLANET OF THE MONSTERS

Directed by Kobun Shizuno and Hiroyuki Seshita
Released 2017
Run time: 89 minutes (1 hr, 29 mins)
My Rating – 2

Oh dear, oh, dear. This movie had so much potential and yet it fell flat on its face. What went wrong? Well, for starters, it committed the cardinal sin ofĀ GodzillaĀ movies: it bored me. I can handle poorly-written plots and bad special effects as long as I am entertained, but this movie didn’t achieve that.

A big problem I have with this movie is that the worldbuilding is there and it’s very good worldbuilding, but we get all of the backstory and details through expository dialogue between the characters and the opening narration. It’s a huge case of telling rather than showing, which is pretty much rule number one of writing a story of any kind. I don’t like to be spoonfed information, I like to find out what’s happening as the characters do, and these characters seem to know everything already about Godzilla when it’s only been 27 years since he ran them off the planet.

Speaking of Godzilla, while the idea of him claiming the Earth as his own, there are no other monsters. Why? He killed them all before the plot even began.Ā A kingdom is not a kingdom if the king doesn’t have any subjects. There are brief glimpses of the other monsters in the opening exposition but that’s all we get of them before they’re gone.

My second biggest issue with this movie is the animation style. I don’t call myself a traditional animation purist but I just can’t get to grips with anime that have 3D animation because the character designs just don’t lend themselves to three dimensions. I played plenty of video games based on anime as a kid and they always had to figure out ways to make the characters look good in 3D so I understand that it can be difficult to make usually flat characters look more lifelike, but it just doesn’t work here, in my opinion. Things like the settings, machines, and even Godzilla himself look fine, but the human cast just looks off. Traditional animation takes a lot of time and money, and Japanese animation is often limited so I get why they went this route, but it would have looked better in 2D. I’m not expecting AkiraĀ levels of animation because we’ll never see that again, but it would have looked just a little more fluid.

Lastly, we have the characters themselves. Who are they? We have the religious guy, a girl, some other people, and our protagonist: a guy who’s really mad all the time because Godzilla killed his parents. That’s completely understandable and a good enough motive, but that’s all there is to the protagonist. The other characters, I barely remember them at all so this is definitely an area where the writing could have been improved on.

I haven’t mentioned this before, but I write these reviews right after I watch each movie, so I hope that the next one will be better.

Godzilla: City on the Edge of BattleGODZILLA: CITY ON THE EDGE OF BATTLE

Directed by Kobun Shizuno and Hiroyuki Seshita
Released 2018
Run time: 100 minutes (1 hr, 40 mins)
My Rating –

So. Was this movie better than the last? Not really. In some ways it’s better, in other ways it’s worse and they cancel each other out so we ended up with another 2 star rating.

Once again, I was bored by this movie. The plot is pretty much the last one but without so much exposition and my brain turned off so badly that when it turned on again, two characters who had no chemistry whatsoever were kissing and I was lost.

The animation is somehow stiffer than it was in the previous movie, which doesn’t bode well at all because I’m not that keen on the animation in the first place. The characters look flat and robotic, and worst of all, Godzilla just looks so bland. We do get to see a lot more of him in this movie, but it feels like all that screentime is wasted because he doesn’t do much other than stand there, roar a couple of times, and fire his atomic breath. This is supposed to be a ruler of a planet to be feared and yet he just does nothing.

Speaking of design choices:Ā I hate the Mechagodzilla design in this movie.Ā It doesn’t look like Mechagodzilla at all, it looks like a robot fromĀ Pacific RimĀ with wings and no head. What makes me hate it even more is that when it’s actually in action, it’s difficult to see, so it looks even less like Mechagodzilla.

Really, that’s all I have to say about this one because it just didn’t make that much of an impression on me outside of what I already talked about.

Godzilla: The Planet Eater

GODZILLA: THE PLANET EATER

Directed by Kobun Shizuno and Hiroyuki Seshita
Released 2018
Run time: 90 minutes (1 hr, 30 mins)
My Rating –

I wish I could come up with something to say about this movie, but as soon as the main villain (the one who isnā€™t Ghidorah) started talking about God and faith and just being overly philosophical, my brain turned off and I almost fell asleep.

The best I can do is say that the monster ā€œfightā€ in this movie is the worst I have seen in this entire franchise. Godzilla has spent the entire trilogy just standing around but once thereā€™s another monster for him to face off against, all Ghidorah does is appear and then bite Godzilla as if heā€™s a snapping turtle. And thatā€™s it. Itā€™s so anticlimactic I could cry.

If we have learnt something in this journey of ours itā€™s that I donā€™t mind when a Godzilla movie focuses more on the human characters than the monsters. Shin Godzilla and the original movie are my favourites and they focus heavily on the human characters, but with those movies, Godzilla is the most important part. This trilogy could have been about any new monsters or even monsters from another franchise, like Gamera, and the monsters wouldnā€™t have made a difference. The Godzilla brand carries a lot of heft and when people watch something with the Big Gā€™s name attached, they expect him to be a central part of the plot, not a bunch of navel-gazing dialogue.

And on that sour note, we’ve reached the end of the Japanese movies! Next time Iā€™ll be talking about the American movies!

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Have you seen any of the ReiwaĀ GodzillaĀ movies?

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