NOW IN THEATERS! I mean, the formula is simple. When you reboot a beloved franchise, modernize the effects and production but keep the heart of the story…the reason we love that franchise intact. That’s precisely what director Takashi Yamazaki did with Godzilla Minus One.
It’s getting close to the end of World War II. Koichi Shikishima (Ryunosuke Kamiki) is a kamikaze pilot returning to the airstrip because of “engine problems.” The airfield staff shuns the failed pilot for not fulfilling his duties as a kamikaze. The shunning doesn’t last long as a giant reptile, Godzilla, attacks the strip.
As one of the only survivors of the monster attack, Koichi returns home to his bombed-out village, where his parents had been killed while he was away. With barely a home, Koichi takes in a young woman, Noriko Oishi (Minami Hamabe), and a small girl, Akiko—an orphaned toddler.
Years later, Koichi and Noriko have made a home, but without warning, Godzilla has returned, having grown to gargantuan size thanks to the nuclear tests in the Bikini Islands. Godzilla destroys the nearby city of Ginza, killing Noriko and leaving Koichi alone with the Akiko.
“…former WWII veterans are asked to band together and defeat Godzilla before he reaches Tokyo…”
As Japan is now reeling from Godzilla’s attack and being defenseless as a result of the war, former WWII veterans are asked to band together and defeat Godzilla before he reaches Tokyo, knowing that their guns, bombs, and tanks are useless.
Godzilla Minus One is a hard reboot of the Godzilla series, and this is his origin story. Like the original Godzilla, the film stars are Japan, Godzilla, and Koichi. As much as Godzilla Minus One is about Godzilla, the story is all about Koichi’s character arc. The film follows Koichi’s journey from disgraced kamikaze pilot to the only survivor surrounded by death to potentially Japan’s great hero.
From the film’s opening moments, I knew this would be a great movie because it had a hero we can all relate to. Koichi is a survivor…but why him and not his brave comrades…with families? Toho Studios never forgot that Kaiju’s stories are human stories.
Details are the other thing that Godzilla Minus One gets right. How can Japan stop Godzilla with military might when Japan is not allowed to have military might…it’s all explained. Godzilla is no longer a guy in a suit. His design looks like a guy in a suit, but he comes with an upgrade, such as an energy bolt that’s downright devasting and awe-inspiring. When he stomps down the streets of Japan, he crushes actual buildings, not paper ones, and steps on real people, not diecast models.
The best part of the Godzilla is the realization halfway through the film that nothing works to stop the unstoppable. So how is Koichi going to come on top in the end? Godzilla Minus One is smart, and smart wins out in the end.
If you’re a fan of Godzilla, prepare to have your mind blown with Godzilla Minus One. Set your expectations high, and enjoy the ride. Cast Marvel aside and get ready for the Toho Godzilla Cinematic Universe. See it on the biggest screen and with the best sound system…and bring a few friends while you’re at it.
"…fan of Godzilla, prepare to have your mind blown..."