Godzilla Minus One Review

This film is not just a giant monster, it is bigger than the title character itself. This genre is something that Director Takashi Yamazaki has been well known for, which includes epic blockbusters like Godzilla Minus One, made by Toho as its 33rd Godzilla film and the 37th in total.

Yet even though its budget was a paltry $15 million – less than one-tenth of what Legendary’s previous Monsterverse installment, Godzilla vs Kong, cost – Godzilla Minus One manages to look costly, featuring cleverly designed period sets and drone shots flying over wide expanses of sea. Equally impressive are scenes depicting kaiju-related destruction: just the sight of a massive battleship whizzing across the screen like kindling alone is worth seeing in IMAX.

Also serving up the same emotional tribute that an Independence Day movie would bring complete with rousing speeches, Godzilla Minus One however diverts from specific governments because this postwar Japan and moral ambiguity abounds thus into ra-ra populism. The story revolves around an ex-kamikaze pilot, Kōichi Shikishima (Ryunosuke Kamiki), whose encounter with Godzilla in the last days of World War II sets him on a path of vengeance and redemption.

Shikishima first appears at Odo Island after making an emergency landing during the summer of 1945. He claims his engine malfunctioned when his plane landed there but mechanic Sōsaku Tachibana (Munetaka Aoki) knows better; Shikishima is simply trying to get out of his duties. Tachibana understands this—why die for something already lost? Besides, soon enough ,the war shall be over —even so, hardly their shared gloominess turns to panic when an outpost is attacked by a dinosaur-like beast. It happens to be a T-Rex-like monster that pulverizes shanties and swallows soldiers in whole.

Two years later, Shikishima now resides amongst the ruins of postwar Tokyo with Noriko (played by Minami Hamabe), a woman he met after a firebomb attack and their adopted daughter Akiko who they are not related to but would die for. Another iconic summer blockbuster—Jaws by Steven Spielberg—can be seen in Shikishima’s decision to accept work as a minesweeper on an ageing wooden boat staffed with a familiar group of eccentrics: Kenji Noda (Hidetaka Yoshioka), aka Doc; Seiji Akitsu (Kuranosuke Sasaki), aka The Captain; Shirō Mizushima (Yuki Yamada), aka The Kid.

Godzilla Minus One Trailer

The ship’s crew stumbles upon classified government secrets both American and Japanese. In May 1947, while exploring the wreckage of a ship mauled by some nasty beast in Tokyo Bay. Godzilla was what it turned out to be, having become even larger through US nuclear tests done close to its South Pacific habitat. This is another tribute to director Yamazaki’s favorite Godzilla movie –and perhaps the one he borrowed most from during production-Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack since Godzilla here represents Japan’s war trauma and guilt at the surface level.

One theme also shown through one of Yamazaki’s changes made to Godzilla as character is how his atomic breath explodes like an H-bomb on impact, forming a mushroom cloud along with an expansive blast radius. Moreover ,Godzilla’s regenerative abilities have been underscored using visual effects supervised by the director himself which offer the creature tactile texture as well as solid animalistic weight.

Ironically, the only thing that is smaller than Godzilla in Godzilla Minus One is Godzilla himself. Shin Godzilla, Toho’s last live-action film about Godzilla, was the tallest incarnation of Godzilla yet standing at a full height of 118.5 meters. (He’s since been dwarfed by his anime counterpart, but that’s another story.) The monster we see here tops out at 50 meters – the height of the original from 1954 which serves as closest analog for this version of Godzilla in terms of timeline if not appearance. (The actual design combines elements from the Heisei era of the ‘80s and ‘90s and Legendary’s more recent version.)

As typical for many movies with Godzilla in them, there could have been more of him in Minus One. Instead it focuses on character development – particularly Shikishima going from a coward to a war hero turned family man. The movie does drag somewhat in between the two set pieces involving Godzilla but overall has a much more optimistic atmosphere than the dark Shin Godzilla did. There is more swelling music and string pulling; less horror and more pride within even an unstable time period for Japan being evoked as well. It is made to make viewers cheer – when Akira Ifukube’s theme tune blares out it becomes almost irresistible.


Godzilla Minus One is a thrilling, action-packed blockbuster that returns the king of monsters back to his post-WWII roots in Japan with an excellent example being unforgettable exploits second sequel called Final Wars (2004). The monster scenes are great but still take a back seat to character driven stories.

Watch Godzilla Minus One on Kisscartoon

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