Shin.Godzilla Review (Warning: Spoiler alert!)

I’m not a fan of big-monster movies. Never have been. You know how some things in life have the inexplicable draw which beckons you to come forward? Call it some kind of cosmic attraction or whatever, but I sure as hell didn’t get that draw with this movie. After being convinced by friends to join them in watching a movie, I relented and put in about eight dollars for the social company.

And unexpectedly LOVED it.

Not knowing anything about the movie, I walked in expecting it to be an Americanised film cliche which I would merely sit through. It wasn’t of course, turns out it is Japanese.

Apparently outside of Singapore the same movie was titled Godzilla Resurgence. It does not have any ties with previous Godzilla movies but is instead a supposedly refreshing new take of the monster attacking Tokyo, Japan for the first time.

Though the premise of the movie was a simple Defeat the Monster plotline: monster reemerges, people come together to fight it-  what drew me in for the next 120 minutes was the cinematic portrayal of politics and the delicate people dynamics the film showed in its Japanese environment.

Japan is known to be structured and hierarchical in its corporate environment. Having worked at Isetan supermarket as my first job at age 16 as a sales promoter, I got a full taste of their work culture early on. Latecoming is severely frowned upon, which I am thankful for as I have a chronic latecoming problem. Thanks to working with the Japanese, I learnt to put in genuine effort when it comes to punctuality as well as customer service quality. The Japanese work culture strives to do their best at what they do as well, even down to the most minute details even some local Singaporean workplaces might close an eye on. For example, slouching, having bored faces while on the customer service front-line and drinking water in front of the public while working were big no-nos.

The film did well to showcase their own work culure. The film effectively played out the stakes at play in a crisis where situation was dynamic and unpredictable and people are still scrambling for information.

When the Godzilla crisis erupts at first due to the tunnel bursting, one of the men discusses if the current task at hand was for the other department, and that they could leave it to the higher-ups or the lower-downs (I cannot recall, sorry). Soon after, public information that was already disseminated was proven false as the monster self-evolves and comes up on land, and a perceived joke was validated as strange truth. As the evidence of the anomaly shows itself, meetings are swiftly formed to discuss how to handle the situation, effectively highlighting the lot of bureaucratic red tape as people on board needed formalised conclusions and concensus before any decisions could be made. that impeded the progress of handling the situation.

There was also a lot of talk about foreign support from other countries’ governments as well as the interest in Godzilla as a specimen by research institutions, which sheds light on how external organisations and governments are linked together at times.

What made this film stand to me from the other two political films I’ve watched so far was the portrayal of women. The women portrayed in Shin Godzilla were the furthest cry from damsels in distress. You have Hiromi Ogashira, Deputy Director of Nature Conservation Bureau who stays calm and contributes to the project with her professional expertise. There is also a  female minister who has short bobbed hair who does not panic even though the stakes are high in this PR and humanitarian crisis.

There is also the privileged daughter of a minister, Kayoko Ann Paterson, who flew directly to Japan from a party- in her party clothes, just to help and contain the situation. At the end of it all she emerges out unscathed, her future political aspirations in the clear and winning support from a potential future ally in Rando Yaguchi.

“You can be my Japanese counterpart,” Kayoko says, in which Yaguchi quips, “You mean your Japanese puppet.” Yaguchi respects Kayoko as a driven woman in her own right, despite her coming from a privileged family. The same lines imply many other things as well. Perhaps Yaguchi meant Kayoko has assertive influence over him, given what she can do politically, as well as future possible collaborations, or collusions if both do become leaders in their own countries in future.

I found Kayoko very likeable, for her level-headedness and ambition. Her remaining with neat makeup throughout the whole situation is just a cinemtic illusion of course, in reality I doubt made up women’s faces would look more grimy from staying up late in the offices. In a adverse crisis as this, I doubt any respected political aspiring career-driven woman would bother with makeup remover and skin care anyway, at least for a few days.

The last sentence might have been a joke, but the other half of me is quite serious while typing it.

On the off-hand, if this fictional Godzilla came to Singaporean shores, our city-state would be decimated completely when the monster decides to blast nuclear beams from its mouth and back.

That’s all my take for the movie!

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