Sixty-two years after the fact, the monster movie public - at least in Japan - is still intrigued by king of all monsters, Godzilla. Ever since Katsumi Tezuka, Haruo Nakajima, Jiro Suzuki, and Ryosaku Takasugi donned the rubber suit in 1954 and went about stomping on toy houses and cars, there have been innumerable versions of the mutant beast.


The beast has been portrayed as a mindless destroyer of everything, the savior of humanity, a dandy opponent of King Kong, a dandy opponent of other futuristic monsters, a comedian, etc. Godzilla has always been an enigma, especially when it came to humans. Did it like/dislike humans? Did it simply like the feel of people squishing under its massive feet? Did it grow to tolerate people after squishing a few of them?


In the 2014 version directed by Gareth Edwards (the guy directing the new "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"), developed a sympathetic Godzilla who liked to kill others monsters. It didn't go over well, though it did make money; it was an attempt to make it an ongoing series.

Directors Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi too a different approach with their version of Godzilla. First to revert back to the original Japanee name (Gojira) and make this more of an origins story with modern day political implications. It is all quite logical and more believable than the guys running around in the latex suite stomping on Matchbox cars.


It remains that Gojira is some sort of nuclear mutant, but this time he is still mutating. He first swims ashore in Japan as a gigantic tadpole like critter - with teeth - causing mayhem in the canals of Tokyo. What immediately seems like a cost savings device, is actually a unique way of making Godzilla relevant today. The Japanese parliament goes into session to cope with the unknown terror and we get to see government reacting very slowly arguing while citizens are getting squished and/or drowned by the giant crawling dinosaur-like tadpole.


Just as the government officials figure out that the young pol Rando Yaguchi (Hiroki Hasegawa) is correct that it is a monster and not a water effect... Godzilla retreats back into the ocean and disappears. More debating as Yaguchi and his friend Kayoko decide to make a power move to usurp the old-timers. Yes, this turns into a political procedural as attacks by Godzilla are interspersed with political maneuvering. Which makes this a much more realistic film.


Add to that a return by a Godzilla that twice morphs and mutates until it becomes the monster we all know and love. He kills the prime minister of Japan, leaving the country in a political grabbag and the United Sates willing to offer to help by annihilating Godzilla and the entire Japanese population with nukes. Boy does this sound familiar!


To it's credit, it seems like the directors found enough money to use a few real cars for close ups of the monster's wrath. They also gave Godzilla a few extra weapons including a tail that shoots laser beams.


Anno and Higuchi further explore the probability that Godzilla has a built in nuclear power plant that helps provides him with plenty of power to operate his vast bio-electric weapons.


"Shin Gojira" is a creative take on an old favorite that adds modern socio-political probabilities, along with the continual mutation of Japans greatest adversary, though it does get a little long winded with dialogue.   -- GEOFF BURTON