Godzilla is back for a limited time only

A lot of people were ambivalent about Gareth Edwardss Godzilla, though I certainly wasnt one of them I think.

A lot of people were ambivalent about Gareth Edwardss Godzilla, though I certainly wasnt one of them I think its a fantastic treatment of the property, a genuinely cinematic interpretation that uses the scale of the big screen to convey the awe and horror that runs underneath the kaiju genre.

Some were disappointed that it wasnt about giant monsters punching each other for two straight hours, and I can understand that … but you guys also thought Pacific Rim was too cartoony, as I recall.

Anyway, that segment of the audience isnt going to like Shin Godzilla, either, which is getting one of those weird Cineplex cross-country limited releases, playing just three shows over the next couple of weeks. (In the GTA, its playing at Yonge-Dundas, Scarborough and Vaughan screenings are on the evenings of Wednesday October 12, Wednesday October 19 and Monday October 24.) Hopefully, the screenings will be successful enough to get the distributor to commit to a proper theatrical run, because this is one of the more intriguing treatments of the genre.

Hideaki Annos film released in Japan as Godzilla Resurgence is the first Japanese Godzilla movie in over a decade (since 2004s Final Wars, which actually was just two straight hours of giant monsters punching each other). Its told almost entirely from the perspective of politicians and civil servants trying to stop a giant monster from destroying Tokyo.

Its an intriguing choice, since weve seen these characters in every single monster movie but never given them a moments thought just as Cloverfield dropped us in among the fleeing, panicked victims, Shin Godzilla drops us into the situation room, unprepared and bewildered by the unfolding disaster.

And by setting this story in a Japan thats never known Godzilla, writer/director Anno worshipped by anime fans for his nuts-and-bolts Evangelion series removes all possibility of camp or comedy, and the decision to redesign the king of the monsters as a mutating, sickly-looking beast gives the movie a distressing ambiguity: even when it reaches its familiar form, this Godzilla just looks wrong.

As bureaucrats argue over jurisdiction and civil-defense comptrollers race to procure badly needed supplies, Shin Godzillas weird insistence on the specifics of government starts to pay off. The monster action is still there, but its less interesting than the bargaining and brinksmanship amongst the exhausted functionaries pushing themselves to find solutions that will save the day without laying waste to the city. Good job, everyone.

Looking for movie showtimes? Go here.

normw@nowtoronto.com | @normwilner


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