KSL Movie Show review: ‘Godzilla Minus One’ might be the best ‘Zilla movie
Dec 1, 2023, 2:00 PM | Updated: Jan 4, 2024, 2:40 pm
(KSL Movie Show and Toho Co., Ltd.)
SALT LAKE CITY — I remember watching the old black-and-white Godzilla movies. Some poor schlub in a rubber suit was bouncing and trampling on a bunch of cardboard buildings like he was tiptoeing through the tulips, having a great time.
Meanwhile, the somewhat worried citizens of Tokyo would pretend flee this silly specter of mayhem and probably get paid based on how pretend scared they were.
And I remember thinking as a kid, “Get ‘em, Zilla! Hey, you missed that dude on the left or that flimsy building facade on your right! Uh oh, here comes the tin soldiers with their pop guns.”
Silly fun, it was.
Well, those days are over.
This new ‘Godzilla Minus One’ is none of that.
A new and improved Godzilla
The creature is absolutely terrifying.
It’s not trying to make a statement, political or otherwise. It’s simply a killing and destroying monster that will mess up anything that gets in its way and do it with vigor and obliteration.
The film takes place in the waning months of World War II, as the last of the kamikaze pilots fulfill their missions, minus one.
Koichi Shikishima (Ryunosuke Kamiki) sees the war is near the end and pretends his plane is suffering a mechanical failure. He aborts his fatal assignment and returns to a bombed-out depot on Odo Island.
A footnote: the title is supposed to refer to the fact that post-WWII Japan is decimated to nothing – zero – and to add on an attack by Godzilla at this time, puts Japan at minus one. I personally like my explanation better.
A cowardly pilot vs. a terrifying monster
So back to Koichi.
Not only does he feel the guilt of failing to do his duty, but while hanging out with the mechanics on Odo, who, by the way, find nothing wrong with his plane, Godzilla decides to pay them a night visit.
As the mechanics take shelter, it is strongly suggested that Koichi take on the beast, since his plane is equipped with 20mm guns. But he runs away from even that possible redeeming moment to the peril of most of the mechanics.
Arriving back in Japan, a surviving neighbor scorns him and he has nightmares of the men he left behind. His one noble moment comes as he begrudgingly allows a young woman who promised to look after someone’s infant daughter to stay with him, in what’s left of his family’s hut.
The reason I’ve taken the time to talk about Koichi is that this disgraced airman becomes the central figure in affecting a lot of good people’s lives and in the process, he develops some character.
So when Godzilla enters Tokyo Bay, you worry about these decent people we’ve come to know. We’ve invested in their well-being, while Godzilla doesn’t give a hoot.
So with a scarier ‘Zilla, exceptional action, terrific special effects and in-depth characters in distress – this might be the best and most well-rounded Godzilla movie I’ve ever seen.
And at last count, this makes 37 films – including those from Toho International and Legendary Pictures – with, I’m sure, many more to come.
Hopefully, this will be the benchmark in the future, with maybe a little wiggle room for that crazy guy in the rubber suit.
GODZILLA MINUS ONE ( B+) Rated PG-13 for creature violence and action. Starring Minami Hamabe, Sakura Ando, Ryunosuke Kamiki and Yuki Yamada. Written and directed by Takashi Yamazaki (“The Fighter Pilot” “Always: Sunset on Third Street”) – filmed in Tokyo. This is Toho International’s 33rd Godzilla movie (37 overall). 125 minutes.
The KSL Movie Show with Andy Farnsworth and Steve Salles airs Fridays on KSL NewsRadio from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Follow the show on Facebook, and join The KSL Movie Show Club for exclusive perks by texting MOVIE to 57500.
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