The original Godzilla studio, Toho, is back with a new movie, and with Godzilla Minus One, the King of the Monsters is truly a king of monsters. While the Monsterverse has been successful here in North America, with the latest smackdown between King Kong and Godzilla wowing everyone in 2021, Godzilla was birthed and has always been best in Japan. That’s exactly why audiences are so pumped about the latest offering in Toho’s “Reiwa” era, with Godzilla finally being returned to his roots in a long overdue throwback movie.

There’s a reason critics are raving about it: writer-director Takashi Yamazaki, a king himself in Japanese filmmaking and VFX, has created something special. Godzilla Minus One is arguably the best kaiju movie in decades, and perhaps the best of the Godzilla movies. For those who love Godzilla, the kaiju genre, or action, it’s more than worth heading to theaters to see it–especially because it finally showcases Godzilla as he was meant to be. Godzilla Minus One reintroduces one key aspect of Godzilla that the Legendary/Warner Bros. Monsterverse has completely dropped.

Godzilla Minus One Reminds Us He’s A Villain

Godzilla long been called the “King of Monsters,” but recent movies seem to have forgotten that. In the Monsterverse, Godzilla has acted more as an antihero and protector of humanity, the guardian who keeps far worse things from being birthed into the world. It’s been a fun concept, and in itself hearkens back to ancient days when guardian spirits of the earth were a commonly-held belief.

But Godzilla’s roots, much like the Hulk, are to smash. Traditionally, he smashes and stomps with no reason other than anger or mindless destruction rather than as a necessary evil for the greater good. Godzilla Minus One returns to that era when Godzilla was not a destructive protector of the world, but simply a force of destruction. To be the king of the monsters, one has to be a monster, after all. This monster is an unearthed creature, a malevolent entity whose portrayal remembers from whence he came, firmly rooted in his emergence as a Lovecraftian horror from the deep. His destruction is visceral, from the dizzying tail-sweeps with the camera following it around, to the bone-shaking roars he emits on his rampage. This Godzilla is primal in a way few iterations have been.

Setting It In Post-War Japan Helps Illustrate Godzilla’s Terrifying Nature

While the characterization of Godzilla would be just grand on its own, Takashi Yamazaki’s decision to set the movie in post-WWII-era Japan makes it all the more powerful. Tokyo and the rest of the nation are struggling to rebuild after the war, and this is the era from which Godzilla emerged. He was birthed at a time in which Japan was still reeling from the aftermath of destruction, their fear over the horrific effects of the atomic bombs dropped on their country made nuclear-powered flesh. The atomic bomb was a force of sheer destruction: no mercy, no selection, no sparing of innocents – everyone in its path, children and the old, are obliterated in a fiery flash, turned to charred cinder by a force so vast, it boggles the mind. So is Godzilla.

The late 1940s Tokyo setpieces still being ravaged by war would, at first glance, make Godzilla’s destruction seem less impressive. But even more atomically terrifying than the concept of utter destruction is the realization that one might start to rebuild only to have it wiped away again in the blink of an eye by a force even more alien and terrifying than the manmade threat that leveled everything in the first place. In this setting, Godzilla’s direct connection to the horrors of WWII can’t be ignored or forgotten. Superhero movies and our CG-heavy era have somewhat dulled the emotional impact of fantastic powers. When Godzilla fires up his infamous atomic breath and unleashes in Godzilla Minus One, however, it’s both visceral and gorgeous. As a stark reminder of the horrors of nuclear war, it’s not just a pretty, hollow-looking spectacle, but means something. For that alone–putting real meaning back into a Godzilla movie–Godzilla Minus One deserves all the accolades it will surely get.

Get tickets for Godzilla Minus One.

  • Editorial