The newest film in the long-running Godzilla series, Godzilla Resurgence (also known as Shin-Godzilla or Shin-Gojira in Japan), was released Friday, reports Nippon. This marks the first Japanese-made Godzilla film to be released since Godzilla Final Wars in 2004.
Godzilla Resurgence is produced by Toho Studios, the Japanese movie company that created the series back in 1954. It will be the 29th Godzilla film by Toho. It follows the recent American Godzilla, released by Legendary Studios in 2014, the second attempt at making an American Godzilla series.
The new film stands on its own and has nothing to do with the American film (meaning there is a potential for two concurrent Godzilla series to be running at the same time over the next few years, one American and one Japanese – certainly a good time to be a Godzilla fan).
Speaking with Nippon, Godzilla Resurgence producer Yamauchi Akihiro spoke of the importance of making a new film for the Japanese viewer.
“Hollywood has to look to the global market, but our situation is different. The first priority for us is the audience in Japan. In a way this movie is our response to Hollywood—an attempt to show the world what Godzilla means for Japan today.”
And what a response it is. The new Godzilla design is bold and raw. It shows a creature stripped down to the extreme. Evan Saathoff of Birth Movies Death had a mixed reaction when photos of the design leaked out in January.
“…boy, does he ever look goofy…This is a big, bold departure for Toho, and for that alone I love it. This Godzilla has a long neck, rows of crazy teeth, weird little hands, a bunch of scarring, and those adorable little googly eyes. What a bizarre combination of features. With any luck, the overall derpyness on display here could actually translate to something scary in the finished film. I absolutely cannot wait to see this guy in action.”
What do the fans think of the new film? Reviews of Godzilla Resurgence are now trickling in following its release on Friday. Mark Jaramillo, a Godzilla fan and monster movie historian, was quoted on Godzilla news site Skreeonk.
“SHIN GOJIRA was an amazing film. The city rampage sequences are SPECTACULAR. This incarnation of Godzilla is the most terrifying version since the original. The story is heavy on dialogue between the various agencies and governments trying to deal with the threat, and I could not make out many key moments due to language limitations. There were many surprises, and it was not predictable by any means. There were aspects of the film that will be controversial, and it is definitely an entry in the series that will divide fans. I do like the film and what it adds to the overall mythos of Godzilla.”
Also quoted on Skreeonk is a review from Japan’s Cinema Today, describing the film as a “masterpiece” and comparing the realism in the film to the gritty view seen in Zack Synder’s 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead.
“While actually watching Resurgence, though, I could feel myself making an effort to get into it, yet I never did. There were parts I enjoyed, but I left the theater feeling somewhat letdown… I just wanted to see more of the monster action… Most of the time we just saw people running and then went back to a room full of politicians or researchers. The sense of dread is tangible, but then muted by a seemingly endless of stream of talking heads… Ultimately, much of the movie never pays off. The climax felt flat, and plateaus before it ever builds up tensions…There was never a release or a satisfying catharsis. Just lurking anxiety.”
He concludes on a brighter note, saying that “This isn’t one of the best Godzilla films ever made, but it’s certainly not one of the worst by any stretch, either.”
One could be forgiven for not knowing too much about Godzilla Resurgence at this point, given Toho’s focus on this as a Japanese movie for Japanese fans first and foremost. Following a poster and few short trailers, not much promotion for the film made it stateside.
The good news for U.S. fans of the series is that Godzilla Resurgence will stomp over to America relatively soon. Funimation Films, a studio known for U.S. releases of Japanese anime content, acquired the rights to the movie and plan to release it “in theaters in late 2016.” So hang on, G-fans, he’s on his way.
[Image via Toho Studios]