Iconic monster returns after long absence in ‘Godzilla Resurgence’

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Godzilla Resurgence (2016)

Directed by Hideaki Anno

Godzilla is the longest-reigning recurring character in cinema history. But if you thought it had been a while since Toho—the Japanese movie studio that created the monster in 1954’s “Gojira”—had released an installment in the storied franchise, you’d be right. In fact, 12 years is the longest the studio has gone since they first introduced Godzilla. So “Shin Godzilla” (or “Godzilla Resurgence”) had a lot riding on it. Audiences have been waiting on it. And while it might not have the technological mastery of 2014’s American version of the monster, “Godzilla Resurgence” does present a thoroughly new take on the story that makes it worth the wait.

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When a giant burst of steam shoots hundreds of feet in the air off the coast of Japan, government leadership begin to question what it is. Is it volcanic? A whale spout? When a young appointed official brings up cell phone footage of a long, scaly tail reaching up out of the water, the Prime Minister doubts its veracity. But when news cameras begin to capture video of the monster heading toward the shore, leaders scramble to bring in biologists, military men, and infrastructure experts to determine the best course of action.

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“Godzilla Resurgence” spends a minimal amount of time showing you the creature that’s wreaking such havoc, though, when it does, it incorporates handheld camera footage to create a multi-angle experience. This may be the most powerful Godzilla we’ve ever seen in film, but “Godzilla Resurgence” takes us behind the scenes to see how the response is being crafted. There’s no attempt to introduce us to innocent civilians, or build many character at all. That’s okay. In this government procedural, we’re happy to see our characters quickly working to help save their city. Unlike any Godzilla movie I’ve seen, “Godzilla Resurgence” is happy to focus on the economic rippling effects of the disaster, UN support, jurisdictional drama, and the practicality of their plan of attack. Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to long-winded explanations and back-and-forth discussions that lead nowhere. “Godzilla Resurgence” is easily thirty minutes too long, but in the end you get an ending that makes the wait worth it. Plus, after 12 years, you can’t blame them for wanting to give you everything they’ve been working on. It’s a fine effort.

7/10

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