Godzilla returns to the big screen in a massive display of raw power in “Godzilla Minus One.” But Godzilla’s newest film is not just about the destructive monster — it is a sentimental story about war, love and humanity’s ability to work together.
“Godzilla Minus One” is an improvement on the action sci-fi genre, going beyond the typical monster movie narrative with an emotional storyline and dynamic, lovable characters. Rated 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, the film offers a poignant exploration of broader themes that resonate with both fans and those seeking a deeper cinematic experience.
The film takes place in Japan post World War II, when the country is at its lowest during reconstruction, when it is suddenly struck by a new crisis: a gigantic reptile monster. “Godzilla Minus One” opens with kamikaze pilot Koichi Shikishima (Ryunosuke Kamiki) landing his plane on Odo Island, lying about a mechanical malfunction with his plane to escape sacrificing himself.
Previous Godzilla films were action-based with little to no plot or character development, which stifles a movie’s ability to be great or memorable and makes it repetitive and predictable. They lacked the element of surprise and skillful writing that “Godzilla Minus One” was able to successfully portray in a monster film. Koichi’s inner turmoil sets the story apart from other Godzilla movies. Yes, there is action and yes, we get the iconic scenes of Godzilla destroying everything in its path. But the great acting and exceptional story brings the movie to the next level.
Another aspect of the movie that separates it from the rest is its character growth, which makes the characters lovable despite their flaws. The sole survivor of a Godzilla attack and lead mechanic, Sosaku Tachibana (Munetaka Aoki), despises Koichi for his cowardness and lack of self-sacrifice. But toward the end of the movie, when these two characters meet again, Koichi finds the courage to fight off the reptile monster, and Tachibana learns to forgive Koichi. Koichi not only finds the courage to defeat Godzilla, but he also learns to love. He steps up to be an adoptive father to orphan Akiko (Sae Nagatani) and confesses his love to Noriko Oishi (Minami Hamabe) after she is almost killed by the reptilian monster.
“Godzilla Minus One” is entirely in Japanese with subtitles in English, so the viewer is reading the movie as much as they are watching it. However, if subtitles aren’t an issue for you, be prepared for an entertaining 125 minutes of monster action and emotional storylines.
This monstrous film will leave you in tears, magnifying the beauty of humanity during catastrophe with the bonus of a legendary monster.