Godzilla Resurgence (Shin Godzilla) (2016)

Japan’s Toho Studios reinvent the original radioactive thunder lizard in this latest apocalyptic disaster epic!

Godzilla Resurgence” is Toho Studios first new Godzilla film since 2004’s “Godzilla: Final Wars,” bringing back the iconic King of Monsters to his home turf following the Americanized version of the character recently seen in Gareth Edwards’ (“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”) 2014 blockbuster. A huge summer box-office hit in Japanese theaters known as “Shin Godzilla,” “Godzilla Resurgence” has received a limited American theatrical release this fall from Funimation Films.

Although Gareth Edwards’ American film took the cinematic high road and attempted to return the radioactive titan to its more somber, serious science fiction roots, Edwards’ movie seems more like a Michael Bay disaster-piece compared to the grimacing, dour tone applied to “Godzilla Resurgence.” Toho has delivered an emergency response, natural disaster film with a monster in it.

Setting itself up as a semi-sequel to the original 1954 science fiction masterpiece, a disturbance in Tokyo Bay mobilizes a disaster relief team to deal with the collateral damage and handle the media spin. When it becomes clear that the suits in charge have a much bigger problem than they originally thought, government honchos, first responders and military forces must convene in a series of power meetings to come up with a plan to stop Godzilla from destroying Tokyo.

While not laugh out loud funny, “Godzilla Resurgence” serves primarily as satire of the Japanese government and chain-of-command culture. The central characters must attend boardroom meeting after meeting, unreeling all the miles of red tape and formalities necessary to take even the most rudimentary steps towards solving the problem with the reputations and careers of those held responsible weighed as heavily as the lives and infrastructure at stake in stopping Godzilla from flattening Japan.

Godzilla Resurgence,” unlike some of the more action oriented and effects heavy films in the long running series, seems more specifically tailored to Japanese audiences and much less interested in entertaining popcorn munching international crowds and kids who love city smashing monster movies. It’s an attempt to return to the sobering memory of the 1954 original.

It’s also possibly the weirdest Godzilla movie since “Godzilla VS the Smog Monster.” First making landfall looking like a mutated, googly eyed salamander, Godzilla ultimately metamorphosizes into a snaggletooth, radiation scarred beast with a tail that behaves more like an aquatic tentacle. In fact, this particular incarnation of the giant lizard, with its’ tendency to dislocate its’ lower jaw when emitting its radioactive blast and grotesque ability to shed rivers of combustible phlegm from its gills, almost reminds me more of some Lovecraftian elder god than the bipedal fire breathing dragon I’ve known most of my life.

For the first time in a Toho produced Godzilla epic, the big G is realized on screen completely in CGI instead of the traditional man-in-suit method, and while I’ll probably grumble in private conversations with other Godzilla fans about missing the “human element,” the truth is that the computer generated mutant lizard is nearly indistinguishable from the man-in-suit creature designs from the past. It seems ironic to me that the latest, high tech computer imaging has been put to use to conjure a creature so realistic that it looks exactly like a guy wearing a rubber suit.

Godzilla Resurgence” will be best appreciated by those with a reverence for the original, unedited “Gojira” (1954) and at least a little background in Japanese culture, but it might also find an audience with hardcore Cthulhu worshipers.

The Phantom of The Ville

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