Godzilla Minus One | Review by: Benjamin Garrett
The Godzilla franchise frequently struggles to find a balance between large scale destruction and compelling human storytelling. No matter how polished the visuals may be, if we don’t care about the people fighting for their lives, we aren’t going to be invested in their stories. Godzilla Minus One is a human drama first, and a monster movie second, resulting in one of the best entries this franchise has seen in its 70 year history.
The film begins in the final days of World War II, following a disgraced kamikaze pilot, trying to find purpose in a life he isn’t meant to still have. What it does quite well is function on its own as a powerful post-war drama, touching on themes of honour and sacrifice. The plot is culturally significant, as so much of it revolves around Japan’s healing period after the war. It’s occasionally melodramatic, but never without meaning. You could honestly replace Godzilla with any other threat, and the impact of this story would resonate just as deeply.
Of course, this is a Godzilla movie, and the king of the monsters does not disappoint, even with limited screen presence. He’s an unstoppable force, and his destructive, animalistic rage is truly terrifying here. This isn’t the over complicated anti-hero Godzilla we’ve seen in the recent American versions. This is a ruthless monster with the singular goal of maximum destruction.
If you go in to this movie expecting the visual polish seen in the American franchise entries, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Those films have budgets more than ten times what this was made for. It took me a bit to adjust to a comparison that really wasn’t fair, but once I did, I found myself in awe of what was achieved for just 15 million dollars. The set pieces are epic, the scale is massive and the level of destruction is staggering.
Godzilla Minus One takes time to develop its human characters and build a story around powerful themes. It might lack the visual polish of its big-budget American counterparts, but a compelling, character driven narrative and earth-shattering scale are well worth that trade-off.
Review by: Benjamin Garrett