Godzilla Minus One (Toho Studios)

For as long as I can remember, I’ve marked out for Kaiju films. I don’t use the term “mark” lightly, I do so with purpose and intent, because when it comes to giant monsters “fan” just doesn’t cut it. Like the best of it’s predecessors, Minus One isn’t just about an irridated ancient lizard pulversing Tokyo and smashing it back into the stone age, as it’s a far more layered, and at times almost subtle, entry into the Gojira pantheon than some of the other more recent chapters in Godzillas saga. Admitedly, there is a lot of crushing, grinding and pulversing of Japan’s largest city, but Minus One succeeds, and ultimately triumphs, because of the very human story that the film is built around, and upon.

Set at the end of the Second World War and in it’s immediate aftermath, Minus One tells the tale of a failed Kamikaze pilot, who having both lost “his nerve” and born witness to, and survived, a devastaing attack by a pre Bikini Atol fueled Godzilla, and having been branded a coward by the only other person to have emerged (relatively) physically unscathed from the big G’s temper tantrum, returns to a defeated, broken and very different Japan.

A forthright examination of PTSD, survivor guilt and soldiers returning from war, Minus One finds its true beating heart in the delicate and believable performances of the incredible cast and the characters they portray who are desperately trying to find their place in, and make sense of, a beaten down, post war world that shares their sense of shame, regret and sadness, while dancing in the shadow of imminent destruction, and the constant threat of death by nuclear fuelled reptile.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Godzilla film if there wasn’t a climactic battle and magnificent showdown, and Minus One turns the final act up to eleven and serves up an ending that reinforces the established canon, mythology and timeline of the very first cinematic entry in the Kaiju book, while delivering the emotional knockout blow that the viewer wants, and needs, for the central characters. Monstrously good… Tim Cundle

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