Godzilla Minus One Review

Monday 18 December 2023

Plot: Post war Japan is at its lowest point when a new crisis emerges in the form of a giant monster, baptized in the horrific power of the atomic bomb.

Film: Godzilla Minus One

Director: Takashi Yamazaki

Writer: Takashi Yamazaki

Starring: Minami Hamabe, Sakura Ando, Ryunosuke Kamiki

This film stands out among the myriad Godzilla films as a remarkable addition to the franchise, rivalling classics like the original 1954 film. If you are someone who hasn’t ventured into any of the Japanese Godzilla movies, Godzilla Minus One is the perfect place to start.


Set against the backdrop of post-World War II Japan, the film delves into the trauma of history. The story commences towards the end of the war, centring around the character Shikishima (#RyunosukeKamiki), a kamikaze pilot who deserted his squadron, this struggle with his desire to survive leads him to landing on Odo Island, which is where we first meet Godzilla, named by the locals as a familiar menace. Being paralyzed by fear, leaves Shikishima one of only two survivors, a guilt he carries into the rest of the film. 


Shikishima returns to a devastated Tokyo, where he meets Noriko (#MinamiHamabe) and a baby, Akiko, orphaned by war, they form an unconventional family and live together peacefully, but as time passes it’s evident that the war, particularly the one waging inside Shikshima, is not over. 


When Godzilla returns, it’s volunteers like Shikishima who offer their lives to help tackle the Kaiju; unlike American Godzilla films in which it’s shown that every military arsenal is deployed to protect major cities. There’s a definite brain over brawn story put into play, which works brilliantly for a film with a considerably smaller budget.


The less than fifteen million dollar budget isn’t evident in Godzilla Minus One, but it’s worth noting. Director Takashi Yamazaki skilfully switches between the intimate portrayal of Shikshima’s makeshift family in a two room set and the incomprehensible scale of Godzilla's destruction, particularly the scenes in Ginza. You get time to form an attachment to the characters in the modest locations before getting to watch in awe at the big scale fights. 


"Godzilla Minus One" resonates as a powerful exploration of human resilience in the face of trauma, culminating in a collective effort to overcome an unstoppable force of devastation. It feels real without taking away from the science fiction.

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