Godzilla Minus One | Third Space

Godzilla Minus One

Is this the best Godzilla film in decades?
Thu 7 Dec 2023



⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 1/2 (out of 5)

How many movie franchises can boast a longer lifespan than James Bond? Very few movie characters bear such a prestigious badge of honour and 2024 marks the 70th anniversary of the release of the original Kaiju, Gojira, also known as Godzilla. Now, seven decades and 35-plus films later, the radioactive lizard marches on in cinemas and in the hearts of fans with no signs of slowing down. Godzilla's enduring appeal is remarkable for a film surrounded by superheroes in spandex with $200 million plus budgets. Its diminutive budget is a sober lesson to major studio tent-pole films: more money does not equal higher quality.

Seemingly, everyone has a story of when they captured their first glimpse of the walking skyscraper. For some, it was Godzilla 1985, with additional footage added of Raymond Burr, who reprised his role from the original for American audiences. For others, it was late-night, so-bad-it's-good-movie-watching with Mystery Science Theatre 3000 as they roasted one of Godzilla's many abysmal B-Movies from the early '70s. For many others, it was the early 2000s Jurassic Park-envying, American reboot with the ear-piercing, P-Diddy abomination of the Led Zepplin classic Cashmere.

Thus, audiences may wonder what new stories Godzilla has left to tell, especially with the American version of the "Monster-Verse" in full swing. However, if writer-director Takashi Yamazaki has anything to say about it. In that case, Gojira still has plenty of unexpected stories to tell.

Minus One is less monster movie and more family drama. Koichi Shikishima, a kamikaze pilot, returns home after WWII only to be rejected by his people for failing to complete his mission. As he attempts to reassimilate into civilian life and ease his burdened conscience, he forms an unlikely alliance with a young woman tending an orphaned child. Though platonic initially, their relationship slowly evolves into a profound devotion as they bond. This new family structure forms the heart of this genuinely gripping story. As the audience, we yearn to see them connect, for Koichi to end his "inner war" of guilt and shame, and to see each survive this horrifying ordeal.

There are few monster-stomping scenes of nameless citizens meeting an untimely demise. Instead, audiences relish a rich exploration of post-war trauma, PTSD, national guilt, and personal redemption. While the Garreth Edwards 2014 American version gave us bland human characters, cheesy melodrama, little action, and no stakes to chew on, Yamazaki's characters are deep, rich, and relatable. Men are men in this story. They are men who do not shun responsibility and highly value honour. Japan also wrestles with its saddled conscience as its people try to recover from war, only to be confronted with a more significant threat than before.

Though there are fewer monster scenes than modern audiences might expect, Yamazaki utilises these few settings with stunning, horrific effects. The opening scene alone is a shocking pallet cleanser for audiences accustomed to American versions of Godzilla. This chapter in the monster's is not the hero we're used to. He's a terrifying predator born out of nuclear war. As a throwback to his origins, he stalks his prey like a great white. This towering nightmare delivers nuclear destruction as quickly as exhaling. His mere footsteps seem harbingers of certain doom.

Writer-director Yamazaki delivers one of the most heartfelt, touching monster movies this decade. How much Yamazaki and Toho studios achieved with only a $15 million budget is staggering. The CGI and miniature work are on par with any Marvel film, and the sound design, acting, and script exceeds anything Marvel has put out in recent memory.

Reel Dialogue: What is the true remedy for our fears?

Perfect love cast out fear. - I John 4:18

Godzilla's popularity has endured for seven decades because he has served as a metaphor for our fears. He is an external manifestation of our inner anxiety stemming from nuclear war, COVID-19, social rejection, personal failure, loss, and more.

Anxiety and fear are powerful allies to our enemy who seeks to prevent our mission of spreading the love of Jesus. Maybe fear has held you back from exploring Jesus. The only way to conquer your fear is by superior love, a gratuitous, lavish love that casts out fear and scares it away. It's a kind of love Jesus offers freely.

If you would like to discuss the topic of fear and God, reach out to us at Third Space. We would love to chat with you about this and more.

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