Saturday, October 22, 2016

Shin Godzilla

Shin Godzilla is pretty good albeit in an odd duck way. It's only peripherally a disaster movie. That's not to say it doesn't utilise Godzilla as a metaphor for nuclear destruction. There's a moment of grand tragedy that is utterly heartbreaking and its ending is quietly chilling. However such moments merely establish stakes; the meat of the film is, of all things, an unabashed celebration of bureaucracy.

Granted it celebrates a particular kind of bureaucracy. Before the heroes can work their magic we churn through a forest of deadwood; old men installed at the top of the hierarchy but too scared of their tentative grasp on power to venture opinions of real substance lest they be shamed. Once they're dealt with the effective bureaucracy can get to work: a mix of Young Turks (including a lone women who is disappointingly token in number but reassuringly not in narrative impact) and old men dismissed as crackpots working together in a comparatively flat organisational structure.

Their teamwork is celebrated in an unusual way. There are no Sorkin-esque walk and talks here and very little striding through hallways in general. Instead <i>Shin Godzilla</i> gets its energy from aggressively edited, oddly framed stills with something subtly off-kilter about the way their subjects are blocked. Adding to the effect are an overwhelming barrage of chyrons (mostly job titles) that are gone as fast as the audience can read them and a musical score that is a hodge podge of original composition and rearranged pieces from previous Godzilla films and, of all things, Neon Genesis Evangalion.

When individuals do emerge from the group it only serves to heighten the film's praise of self-sacrificing teams as they merge their egos with the desire to serve their nation. At one point an ambitious young man explains himself by way of reflecting that, "There needs to be a Japan in ten years if I am to be the Prime Minister of it."

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