Godzilla Minus One is a smashing take on the often-told story
Film review: Godzilla Minus One (12A)
Starring: Minami, Ryunosuke Kamiki, Sumiko Ota and Kuranosuke Sasaki
Director: Takashi Yamazaki Run time: Two hours, four minutes
Coming out just before Christmas, this low-budget film received little attention, which is a great pity as it’s so much more than just another monster movie.
Set in a rainy, bleak and devastated post-war Japan, the story centres around disgraced kamikaze pilot Koichi Shikishima (Ryunosuke Kamiki) who takes in a young woman, Noriko Oishi (Minami Hamabe), who lost her family after American bombs destroyed her neighbourhood.
The two take care of an orphaned girl as they battle through the poverty of a country that is slowly getting back to its feet.
And of course, there’s Godzilla too. A huge monster from the ocean previously encountered by Shikishima when it killed a group of mechanics tasked with repairing the plane he was pretending was faulty as he dodged his ‘honourable death’.
But now the giant reptile is twice as dangerous after being nuclear charged by the American atomic bombs – and he is targeting mainland Japan.
The first of the 38 Godzilla movies was released in 1954 to lift post-war Japanese spirits – as a metaphor of the country once again battling, but this time beating, the USA. And although the theme here is similar, this film also highlights the complicated and unenviable role of kamikaze pilots – dead if they succeed, reviled if they fail or refuse.
And it’s also a love story between Shikishima and Oishi, albeit one that is not fulfilled for the majority of the movie as he battles his own war and must defeat the monster before he can truly live again.
The eponymous creature is suitably terrifying and the plans put forward to defeat it convincing and realistic enough. There's also two unexpected twists at the end, both of them joyous but one a little twee for my liking.
But overall, a smashing film although I do feel the 12A rating encouraged a few parents to bring children who expected a monster thriller but may have been underwhelmed by a Japanese language film with subtitles and the sensitively told story.