What I'm Watching: Godzilla Minus One

Finally out on Netflix (along with most Godzilla films).

G-1 follows the style of GMK and Shin Godzilla by only admitting to the events of Gojira (1954), in this case by being set in 1945-1947.

Failed kamikaze pilot Shikishima watches an island base (a hut and a few engineers) be destroyed by T-Rex-like baby Godzilla. Returning to the ruins of Tokyo, everyone he knew is gone, so he takes in a couple strays. As with most Godzilla movies, the Human story is the least engaging for me, certainly not helped by Noriko being a cipher (stoic Japanese) and Akiko being nonverbal, so we have only pilot's rare nightmares to get inside his head.

He finds work on a minesweeper crew, who have somewhat more personality, and he's productive until they meet the upgraded Godzilla, post Bikini Atoll.

The Godzilla design is fine, perhaps too much spiky, pebbly, obviously CGI-greebled skin. When damaged, it heals back into place, maybe in a different pattern? But you can't tell. I find the texture a little creepy and unsolid; the suits allowed physical changes and movements but remained the same, while the CGI cartoons are all fluid. The head has a reptile/cat look more like the Legendary movies, and the tail/back spines pop up like control rods in a nuclear reactor when he's heating up for a shot. After the nuclear breath, Godzilla's charred, face & chest burned down a significant amount, and takes time to regenerate. That part I like, it's clearly painful to fire it, and takes time, so there's more fighting and mugging for the camera.

The city battles have some real physicality to them, and several callbacks to 1954, but a couple of escapes, close calls, and people who are obviously ready to be stepped on, and then camera pulls back, are not quite as hardcore as Anno Hideaki's Shin Godzilla. Godzilla routinely picks people up in his mouth, and throws them; they're not chewed into pieces or anything. On par with Pacific Rim, and tougher than Legendary's PG-rated adventures.

There's long stretches on ships, and the water does not move well, but it's no worse than the scale-model boats in early movies.

Soundtrack noticeably is pretty weak, and then will have an Ifukube Akira inspired bit which stands out so much.

Japan's postwar government is useless, General MacArthur has Soviet problems, so the citizens of Japan with some decommissioned hardware have to handle Godzilla: A few destroyers with no guns, a prototype fighter, and Doctor Not Serizawa's fairly ridiculous tech weapon. It's a pretty entertaining bad plan, and as long as you don't read some German text you'll have a couple of surprises.

It's a fine Godzilla movie, ★★★★½

I'd rank the best ones now:

  1. Godzilla (1954)
  2. GMK (Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, 2001)
  3. Shin Godzilla (2016)
  4. Godzilla Minus One (2023)
  5. Godzilla Singular Point (2021)