Godzilla: Minus One

Directed By Takashi Yamazaki

Starring – Minami Hamabe, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Sakura Ando

The Plot – Post World War II Japan is at its lowest point when a new crisis emerges in the form of a giant monster, baptized in the horrific power of the atomic bomb.

Rated PG-13 for creature violence and action involving peril

GODZILLA MINUS ONE Official Trailer – YouTube


It may have took nearly seventy years and 37 films, but it appears that we have the definitive Godzilla movie, and one that I’m remarkably blown away by how much time and effort they put towards constructing an installment that will reshape how hardcore enthusiasts view and value this legendary franchise, with vital aspects that only now feel like they’ve been taken seriously. For starters, the cherished city wide devastation in action sequences that we’ve come to appreciate most about the character has been balanced with an equally gripping story full of thematic impulses and historical relevance that capably use all of its two hour run time to properly flesh out the stakes and sociology of a war-torn country on the brink of financial and civil ruins, which now faces an even deadlier adversary from its own radioactive waters. While the script has many appealing themes that take these characters down some unpaved trails that characters typically follow in these movies, those of the definition of family in a civilization that obliterated it, as well as redemption are easily the two biggest that defined its appeal. In the depths of a Kamikaze soldier who returns home to find himself not only disappointed by his lukewarm reception, but also haunted by the memories of war that have conjured the broken man we see before us, the script cleverly uses Godzilla as the manifestation for one man’s grief, in turn supplanting his re-occuring clashes with this gigantic wrecking force with an urgency in awakening that makes this battle feel bigger than just scattered humans trying to take down a ferocious Kaiju monster. In addition, the characters themselves are also written refreshingly deep and full of the kind of empathetic value that for once had me rooting for Godzilla’s demise throughout the movie’s conflict. The decision to cast an ensemble who are entirely unknown to American audiences like me go a long way in viewing them as figures transcendent of fictionalized cinema, but beyond that it’s the uniqueness that each of them bring to their respective characters that supplants no shortage of humanity and heart to their approach, allowing us to feel the weight of overwhelming stakes that consistently hangs overhead during some tensely riveting action set pieces. On that aspect, the intensity factor is off the charts with these enthralling sequences full of impactful devastation and overwhelming vulnerability that never sacrifice capture for creativity. Instead, the action is blessed with meticulous camera placements and breathtaking visual effects work that vividly bring to life perhaps the most snarling and intimidating version of Godzilla that the screen has ever seen, and unlike 2014’s “Godzilla”, we receive more than enough imagery with the killer kaiju, but never too much that could eviscerate the mystique of his unpredictably spontaneous appearances, and when combined with the deposits of Akira Ifukube’s iconic main theme score littered casually throughout Godzilla’s roaring rampage, endears us to the kind of care and precision about this particular installment, which values its past every bit as much as it does its future. Lastly, two hours might seem like an ambitious run time when compared to the Godzilla films that we grew up with, but my investment to the experience quite figuratively flew by in a breeze, as I not only invested myself to the aforementioned characters and their thematic heft that drove their character psychologies, but also in the way Yamazaki’s direction constantly keeps moving forward, despite having so many years to depict in the lives of the story’s essential trio. Because the film’s opening act frequently shifts from one year to the next, I feared for a disjointed and sloppy inevitability that would catch up to its rhythmic storytelling, but instead found myself warmed to the growing dynamic of these war-torn scattered people becoming a family, with foundation building moments between them being stacked like bricks to an unbreakable home that could withstand even the most terrifying monster attempting to blow it down.


Despite the film embracing realism and possibilities in the most consistent ways it possibly can, the ignorance with radioactive particles is still something that feels unaddressed by the film’s logic, requiring a bit more suspension in disbelief than I would’ve expected from a movie so grounded, or at least as grounded as possible with a 300 foot monster destroying its landscapes. There is somewhat of an attempt to attack this conflict with the realities in testing the ground with radiation detectors, only moments after Godzilla crushes a city and leaves, but it’s a one time ordeal that doesn’t go anywhere beyond a single solitary image of its influence, and with a film so responsible with both its characters and historical context of Japan, I wish it took more time to flesh out a deeper sense of stakes to the unforeseen poison that its people are currently breathing in. Aside from this, I found the resolution of the film to play its hand a little prematurally than I would’ve preferred, especially with the Plan A and Plan B concepts that tell us where the third act is headed, long before it actually materializes. Whenever you have this speech in a movie, where characters devise two respective plans, you can bet that the first one definitely won’t work, leaving only the second, and I think the script could’ve improvised this second plan on the fly, in the heat of the moment because doing so in advance sets a precedent of what to expect, and predictability should never play into factor in a Godzilla film. Finally, the closing moments of the film are a bit neurotic and irresponsible for my personal tastes, especially with the jaw-dropping chance that the movie’s second act took with one particular character. It retracts its creativity within the confines of the movie’s impactful stakes, doing so to give audiences that warm and fuzzy feeling that would do anything but send them home even remotely conflicted.

“Godzilla: Minus One” smashes and obliterates old franchise stereotypes, with a three-dimensional script loaded of thematic heft and historical relevance, but also meaningful characters, which seamlessly articulate the humanity that hangs in the balance. While the action is still tops in everything from the way it’s shot and executed, to the way its artificial properties conjure believability in the eyes and minds of its audience, this is one entirely new monster that breathes a newfound fire into the promise of its forecasting future by cementing what is arguably the single greatest installment in a 70-year, 37-film franchise.

My Grade: 9/10 or A-

5 thoughts on “Godzilla: Minus One

  1. I was already going to see this, but holy damn. I absolutely did not expect this kind of review, to be honest…I figured it would be another mid tier movie but fun because, well, its Godzilla. I am thrilled to read that it is quite the opposite and it makes me more excited to take Gabs to see this. I can’t wait!! Thank you for another amazing review!

  2. This is on my list of things to do this week and hot damn am I excited for this one. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this film and I cannot wait to see Tokyo get wrecked.

    Your review only makes me want to see it sooner. Makes me mad that I have to wait for Sunday night.

  3. Damn, I remember hearing that you loved it, but I was still super impressed to read your praises in this passionate review. I’ll definitely expand on your issues with the resolution because I do think the climax was a little underwhelming when compared to the rest of the movie which is probably the only thing keeping me from putting this in my top 10. But even I didn’t expect a new Godzilla movie to be in my top 20 of the year, but here we are. Superb review for a superb movie!

  4. This is by far the biggest surprise of the year for me. I appreciate you holding the film accountable though when it comes to when it wasn’t accurate on the physics elements. It’s not required for some action films but there’s definitely a level of believeability that should be present – especially with radioactivity hahah and with the final act, I was able to call the Plan A and Plan B plot points as well, especially with the protagonist’s mission in place as well. But luckily I found other plot points I wasn’t expecting and while it verges on melodramatic, I was all in at that point! An A- is definitely a worthy grade! Thank you for a great review as always!

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