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SUPERVERSIVE: “Godzilla Minus One” Earns all the Hype! –

SUPERVERSIVE: “Godzilla Minus One” Earns all the Hype!

Tuesday , 19, December 2023 Leave a comment
Godzilla Minus One Reaches New Heights on Rotten Tomatoes, Smashing ...

What a difference a month makes. I watch nothing in theaters all year besides a few limited release Miyazaki movies and “Sound of Freedom”, and now I’ve seen three movies in the past three weeks. John C. Wright already reviewed “The Shift” and I have little to add, and I reviewed Miyazaki’s “How do you Live?” last week. That leaves me with one more film to talk about, “Godzilla Minus One”.

(Side note: If you have noticed the running theme that none of these movies are from Hollywood, well, let’s just say that’s not a coincidence.)

To give you my background, I had seen a grand total of three Godzilla movies before this point, the three fairly mediocre Godzilla anime films. I knew next to nothing about the franchise and the sum total of monster/kaiju flicks I had seen outside of that amounted to the (pretty good) Peter Jackson “King Kong” and (the less good) “Kong: Skull Island”. That’s it. To be frank, I would not have seen this except that every movie critic I even remotely like and respect were over the moon over it.

How was it? In short: It’s the best movie I’ve seen in theaters since “Interstellar”, nine years ago. It’s one of my favorite movies of all time. Keep in mind that I saw this AFTER seeing the new Miyazaki film.

“Godzilla Minus One” follows Kirito, a kamikaze pilot who can’t bring himself to die for the cause and fakes engine trouble to get out of doing his duty. While on an island getting his plane checked out Godzilla crashes the party. Kirito is given the chance to at least do a bit of damage but freezes, and he and the mechanic who worked on his plane end up as the only survivors.

Alive but stuck with crippling survivor’s guilt and intense PTSD, Kirito returns home and against his inclinations ends up taking in and supporting Noriko, a young woman with no family and no place to go, and the baby she is raising, Akiko. Though Kirito can’t bring himself to fully open up about all of his trauma the three of them form a bond and come to care for each other.

It’s strange, because I am normally quite open to spoiling films in order to discuss them fully, but this feels like the sort of special experience that really shouldn’t be spoiled. It’s not that the movie is doing anything new. Kirito’s arc is a classic one of overcoming cowardice and shame and finding a reason to live. Found families are certainly not new (though considering it’s a found NUCLEAR family this is probably the best version of that trope I’ve ever seen). It’s all been done before and will be done again.

What sets it apart is how well done it all is. I can tell you with zero exaggeration that if Godzilla was completely removed from the movie and this was a character-driven drama about a man recovering from his time in the war, I would still have enjoyed it just as much – which just makes the fact that the monster scenes are ALL, each one, absolutely fantastic a simply colossal cinematic achievement.

What to talk about? How about the fact that I liked every single character in the film – all of them. EVERY character was interesting, every character was memorable, I was rooting for all of them.

How about the acting? The acting was fantastic. I have heard that the lead may get some awards buzz, and to that I say, well deserved.

But really. Think about this for a second. There is awards buzz for the lead actor in a Godzilla movie!

Let’s just boil down why this movie was so great – it did everything Hollywood wouldn’t do. This was a story about MEN, dealing with trauma from war, choosing how to live. The one major adult female character in this movie plays a role that is as feminine in nature as you could possibly imagine. This is not to say that she is not important, or does not have her own arc, or does not affect the story, but the way she affects the story is in an old-fashioned feminine way – in other words, she motivates and supports the male main character and cares for a child.

This was primarily a story about masculine men doing masculine, manly, heroic things.

And – this is a key point, totally at odds with modern Hollywood – there is no criticism of these men for being men. Their struggles and sacrifices, their failures and their hard-won successes, are played as seriously as a Shakespearean tragedy.

And it’s awesome.

I haven’t even MENTIONED the brilliant, Jaws-inspired action scenes, or how insane and impactful Godzilla’s atomic breath is, or the excellent overall special effects, but all of this needs to be thrown into the mix as well when discussing what makes this movie so damn good.

Is there anything wrong with it? Well, people sometimes criticize the ending for being slightly contrived. On one hand, I sort of get it. On the other hand, sometimes it feels like the sort of person who criticizes that ending is the same sort of person who thinks that the Captain shouldn’t have converted at the end of “Brideshead Revisited” – in other words, people who don’t like to see victory portrayed in fiction.

Will things work out that all the time? No, of course not. But sometimes I want to live in a world where suffering is met with relief, trauma with healing, and yes, even miracles can turn around the worst situations. But it’s not enough to want that. A movie needs to MAKE me want that for the characters, and make me believe it when it happens.

That is what this movie does.

This is as highly recommended as I can make it.

‘Godzilla Minus One’: How a 70-year-old monster stays evergreen ...

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