— by Jeff Schultz

A smashing surprise, an astonishing accomplishment. It’s a monster movie, yes, from a great monster movie tradition, but so much more. In fact, Gojiro himself, while still great “fun” to watch as he rampages through Tokyo, is basically the vessel here into which is poured a fascinating, brainy meditation on patriotism, bureaucracy, Japan’s relations with the U.S. and the world, and its response to internal catastrophe — as much the 2011 earthquake and tsunami as the nuclear end to World War II. For that reason, some may come away disappointed that there wasn’t more creature and less talk. But the seriousness and self-examination are integral to the plot, making this one of the most adult horror movies ever made. As for the effects, they are notches above a man in a rubber suit, but far below the millions spent on the more blockbuster Godzilla iterations (i.e. the 2014 and 1998 American mostly-duds). And yet, there’s a delight in watching what they came up with (especially Gojiro’s first appearances, before he morphs into something even bigger) — silly and effective at the same time, in a way that the more “lifelike” big bucks versions didn’t quite reach. The action begins immediately and is made continually urgent by the restless camera and a few powerful silences. And even with the distraction of subtitles, the actors register, especially the young hero, the Japanese-American Senator’s daughter and the Prime Minister. Do go see this!

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