I saw this film with a friend during that awkward week between Christmas and New Year, I can honestly say that this is one of my favourite Godzilla films. Just a heads up this film is in Japanese but has English subtitled. There are going to be spoilers throughout this review.
I am using a poster image I have found through google I do not own any rights and I am using the image purely for review purposes (Fair use under the copyright act sections 29 and 30 under use for a review).
I am fairly sure I could bore you to death dear Reader talking about all the possible symbolism I spotted during the film for the next hour or two however I am going to try my best to keep it all contained into one paragraph. For one second, we are going to ignore the huge lizard in the room. I think this film works so well because it places the trauma of history at the centre of the story, the film starts in the very last days of the second world war. Still ignoring the giant lizard, the story stripped down to its most basic bones is a story about people banding together to heal and defeat an unfathomable force of destruction.
I adore the nod to the first Godzilla (1954) film where the story stars on the fictional Odo Island. In Godzilla Minus One is home to an Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service runway that was primarily a repair stop.
Our protagonist Koichi Shikishima is a failed kamikaze pilot while on his first mission he overcome by fear and an understandable desire to live, so he lands on Odo Island citing and engine issue that needs to be looked at. Throughout the film the events of this day and night haunt Shikishima from the shame of being a failed kamikaze pilot and the PTSD from the Godzilla attack on the island. There is no shame in wanting to live and to thrive.
Godzilla Minus One wasted no time in putting the giant atomic lizard on screen, there are no sneaky looks or blurred shots our favourite lizard is front and centre. Do not think that just because we get a chaotic opening with Godzilla that the fun is over for a while it doesn’t diminish his impact for the film; instead, Godzilla becomes a force that hangs over Koichi’s head.
Seiji Akitsu the captain of the Shinseimaru and Kenji Noda a former navy technical officer are my two favourite characters they both help carry the story beautifully and with the addition of Shiro Mizushima an apprentice Shinseimaru crewman they become the comic relief and soul of the film.
I am in no way saying that the newer representations of Godzilla are a nice cuddly house pet, but I loved seeing Godzilla as a storm in a teacup, Godzilla isn’t motivated by hunger desire or even revenge. In Godzilla Minus One Godzilla is just an entity that has become death, the destroyer of worlds, and is not something that can be reasoned or bargained with.
I can’t help but recommend this film to others not only is the film a great Godzilla film there is so much to uncover in its layers, I can’t wait to see the film again and I have read that there are rumours of black and white version of the film being released at the end of January.