Godzilla Resurgence (Shin Godzilla) is the latest incarnation of everyone's favorite radioactive dinosaur, and the best political movie I have seen in some time.
This Japanese-made film is currently showing around the country, but only for one or two week runs. If you missed your window of opportunity to see it, make sure you catch it when it comes to Blue-ray, DVD or download.
The film recycles the classic Godzilla plot: monster awakens and terrorizes Japan. However, it puts some new twists on this classic tale. When Godzilla first emerges, he looks like a deranged Muppet. Instead of breathing fire, he drips blood (which we are told is the equivalent to a nuclear reactor releasing water to cool down). This Godzilla takes awhile to "evolve" into the monster we know and love.
The film's primary focus is on the government's attempts to deal with the crisis, and unlike too many Hollywood movies, it does not paint a flattering picture of government. When reports of strange disturbances first reach the government, the Prime Minster and the cabinet snap into action...and have meetings.
The young staffer who suggested that a giant creature was the cause of the disturbances was dismissed and even admonished by his mentor to keep his opinions to himself so as not to damage his career. Even after reports of sightings of a large creature reach them, the cabinet still refuses to even acknowledge the possibility until they see video of the creature.
Once they realize what they are dealing with, the assembled official's first concern is to prevent panic, so they hold a press conference.
For the rest of the movie, we see how politicians and bureaucrats debate every action, from whether to order emergency evacuations or to deploy the military. One of the characters explains that the government must have all these meetings because "that's how democracy works," to which libertarians in the audience will nod and say "precisely". Speaking of democracy, one amusing scene considers discussions of those opposed to tasking action against the giant monster rampaging around their country.
Many of those tasked with protecting the people seem to be more interested in how their role will position them for advancement than with actually helping the people of Japan.
The movie does not paint the US Government or the UN in a flattering light. As concerns over Godzilla wreaking havoc in other countries rise, the UN -- led by the US -- pressures Japan to allow US forces to drop a nuclear bomb on a Japanese city. The film suggests the US is anxious to hide their involvement in Godzilla's resurgence. The Japanese government is eager to comply because they have been promised "help" in rebuilding their country.
A group of government scientists try to stop the dropping of the bomb and instead "freeze" Godzilla. They are aided by a Japanese-American State Department official whose presidential ambitions have not competently eroded her conscience.
I won't spoil the movie. I will just say that fans of classic Godzilla movies, as well as those who enjoy mocking government, will enjoy this movie.
Tags: Liberty at the movies