Review: Godzilla: Minus One

Godzilla on the rampage

Last Saturday, we watched Godzilla Minus One, which is currently showing on Netflix (at least In Singapore). For me, It’s just like every other Godzilla movie, except it’s set immediately after World War 2, which is unique as far as I know. That said, I enjoyed most of it, but one thing that caught my interest was how the film-makers treated the desolation of Japan from World War 2 and their characters’ reactions to it.

WARNING
Spoilers ahead!

I’m not a big fan of disaster films. Think Towering Inferno, or A Night to Remember, or any of the Airport films from the 50s, 60s and 70s. My Saturday afternoons and Sunday evenings were spent watching them (unwillingly, I might add. There was nothing else to watch).

Monster movies are just the latest iteration (a sub-genre, if you will), of the disaster movie. Although of course the original Godzilla films predate most of the examples I’ve listed above. However, my point still stands. Most of these movies are very similar. They have the same basic plot. The same banal human characters. It’s the monster (or disaster) that’s the star, and it has to be defeated at the end – although killing it is actually rare (thank you sequelitis).

Godzilla's about to blow.

Godzilla Minus One actually breaks the mould somewhat. The characters are not bland cut-outs. They’re good audience substitutes. We care about them. Not just the main characters, but also their supporters. They’re all heavily traumatised by The War. Civilians and veterans alike. It’s here that I feel that the film-makers have broken a fairly toxic mould.

Japanese disaster stories have become metaphors for the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We see it of course in Godzilla, but also in manga like Akira. It’s all pretty understandable, given the trauma those events caused (and continues to cause, nearly eighty years on). However, there’s a level of blame shifting towards the Americans in particular, that I find baffling. In most of the Godzilla movies, it’s an American nuke that creates Godzilla, or rouses it again. We also see something similar occurring in Akira.

However, in Godzilla Minus One the creature’s origins aren’t spelt out, and its nuclear connection is limited. In a sense, it is a pure force of nature, almost to the point of being a natural disaster.

There’s also no blame-shifting here. And even though the characters feel they have suffered enough from The War and its aftermath, they soon realise that unless they risk everything, and face Godzilla, the creature will attack them anyway. The allegory being that war affects everyone, that there’s nowhere to hide. It’s especially pertinent given what is happening with the Pacific region, but also in Eastern Europe as well.

I found that a very mature take.

skribe

I’m skribe. I’m a writer, a film-maker and an actor. While I’m originally from Perth, Australia, I currently reside on a tropical island, the Lion City of Singapore. Fingerprint: 79A1 DC6C D367 8A31 135A 7AFA 940E 4231 D7B9 B15C If you like what you see buy me a coffee.

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