Shin Godzilla (2 stars)

Shin Godzilla

The eponymous monster returns to Japan in this overly earnest reboot

Godzilla returns to his old stomping ground of Tokyo in this reboot of the popular monster-movie character. Although licensed to Legendary Entertainment for an upcoming bout with King Kong as part of their ongoing MonsterVerse, Japan's favourite giant reptile remains the property of Toho to make their own homegrown features. Shin Godzilla pleased Japanese audiences in 2016, but others may be baffled by this film from co-directors Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi, which relegates Godzilla to the status of a bit-part player.

Things start briskly enough as a burst of underwater activity sets loose a boggly-eyed creature in Tokyo Bay; sweeping a tsunami of boats ahead of it, the sea monster heads into the city where awestruck scientists christen it Godzilla. Drones, exploding trains, tanks and other containment options are explored and rapidly discarded, prompting the visibly upset creature to shoot flames from its mouth and lasers from its bottom. Insensitive US politicians encourage the Japanese government to use a nuclear option, forcing the wily local scientists to come up with an alternative way to stop Godzilla's rampage.

Shin Godzilla is not a plot-driven movie, so there's no need for spoiler alerts to reveal that the climax involves blowing up the bases of skyscrapers which collapse as Godzilla lurches into them like a drunk bumping into bookcases. Such enjoyably cartoonish scenes are a welcome relief from the endless, earnest scenes of various government and scientific agencies figuring out what to do; Shin Godzilla takes far too much inspiration from the Japanese response to real-life tragedies like the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

This straight-faced emphasis on heroic scientists and slow government responses might well have pleased domestic crowds, but with the titular beast onscreen for just a fraction of the two-hour runtime, those outside Japan may feel that this latest incarnation of Godzilla is a lot less fun than it should be.

Selected release from Thu 10 Aug.

Shin Godzilla

  • 2 stars
  • 2016
  • Japan
  • 2h
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Hideaki Anno, Shinji Higuchi
  • Cast: Hiroki Hasegawa, Yutaka Takenouchi, Satomi Ishihara

A burst of underwater activity unleashes a creature in Tokyo Bay; the sea monster goes on the rampage and is christened Godzilla. Overly earnest reboot in which far too much time is spent on various government and scientific agencies wondering what to do, which may have worked well for domestic audiences but is a lot less…