Wow... the last Spoiler-free review I posted was waaaaay back in October 2020!
Of course 2020 was during the pandemic, so the only movies I was watching then were on home video. I have been back to the theater to see movies since then, but frankly, none of them were really worth reviewing. Actually, I don't even remember most of what I saw now. Maybe I'll do a Spoiler-free catch-up edition, with just short one or two sentence reviews and a score for each movie. (More to warn people away from seeing them, than anything else.) I had intended to write up reviews for some of them, but just wasn't inclined to do so.
I'm not all that inclined to write much about Godzilla Minus One, either.
Go see it. It's awesome.
This movie isn't part of the recent slog of Legendary Pictures' "Monsterverse" films featuring Godzilla, King Kong and so on. This is by Toho - the company that originated Godzilla in the first place. It was filmed in Japan, the dialogue is Japanese with English subtitles, it takes place in a devastated, war-torn Japan just after World War II, had a budget of less than $15 million, and is awesome.
No, I didn't drop a zero there. $15 million. Not $150 million.
And even though at times the visual effects belie the film's incredibly tiny budget, it just doesn't matter.
The story and the characters are deeply compelling. Everything else is secondary. This is how movies should be. If you're engrossed in the story and care about the characters, the trappings of the film itself don't matter. You're far more likely to just enjoy the film for what it is. And this isn't a knock against the movie's visual effects at all. They serve the story perfectly.
I think many big budget films (or TV series) get knocked for subpar special effects because the audiences get so bored, there's nothing left to do but look at the effects and pick them apart. The best blockbuster films were great not because of their effects, but because of their characters. Movie studios have totally lost sight of that, and have turned movies into just being excuses for spectacle.
That said, Godzilla Minus One certainly has the requisite scenes of Godzilla wreaking havoc. But the stakes are personal. They're emotional. You care about the people in his path of destruction and what happens to them. The theater I went to last night was pretty packed, and at times the entire audience was absolutely silent, because they were completely captivated by the human story playing out on the screen in front of them.
Godzilla Minus One has heart. The actors, notably Ryunosuke Kamiki as Kōichi Shikishima, are wonderfully cast and a joy to watch. I was rooting for them throughout this film. Not to just defeat Godzilla, but to triumph over their own personal wars as well. To just live.
Go see it. It's awesome.
Godzilla Minus One gets a 10/10.