Featuring: Hiroki “Attack on Titan” Hasegawa , Satomi “Attack on Titan” Ishihara , Yutaka “Oba: the Last Samurai” Takenouchi
Directors: Hideaki “Neon Genesis Evangelion” Anno & Shinji “Attack on Titan” Higuchi
Writer: Hideaki “Neon Genesis Evangelion” Anno
Also Known As: Shin Godzilla
(Author’s note: This review was intended for post in December 2015, so rewind your brains a few weeks to experience the proper mindset.)
Last year, for the International Congress of United Pantheons (I.C.U.P.)’s Non-Denominational Gift Exchange Caucus, I requested of my Mystery Mandatory Present Provider “an enigma box containing the forbidden knowledge of The Inferno”. What I got was a tin full of “Friends” trivia cards… I could solve a dozen Lament Configurations before I could tell you the name of Chandler’s fucking MONKEY! As per the ancient edicts of the ceremony, it’s sacrilege to reveal whose MMPP is whose, but I’d bet my life-size die cast replica of Stuntman Mike’s Charger that it was one of those smart ass trickster god pricks. Probably Loki or Coyote or, speaking of monkeys, Sun Wukong. Flea-bitten chimp. Every year he does that stupid gag where he ties a set of jingle bells around his tail, sticks it between his legs, and dances around singing his dirty version of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” like he hasn’t done it every year for the last six centuries. Fucking headache. Could somebody grab me a fistful of Anacin? My thanks.
Regardless of the culprit, I’m already prepared for the first season of “Fuller House” on Blu-ray (You can’t have a “Fuller” house! It’s already FULL, for James K. Fuck’s sake!) or some such shit to be my surprise this year, so I opted to indulge my sweet tooth and treated myself. After pulling a few strings, sacrificing a few Charles Band DVDs during the last full moon (*PUN!*) and calling in a “favor” from my import guy (your family will be returned to you unharmed in time for Hanukkah, Ishmael-san), I wrangled a bootleg of today’s feature! Pa rum pum pum pum, motherfuckers.
For you number nerds out there in the worldwide wasteland, you’ll notice that today’s episode is 95 rather than 93. Well, the movie I was writing up for the finale of Turkey Day Month 2016 was so mind scaldingly terrible that it gave me mental food poisoning. A bout of existential agony from which I’m still recovering. But, rather than let it get away unscathed, I’ve put it up on a meat hook TCM style to writhe a bit until I can get around to finishing it. And 94? The December entry for my year long celebration of evil clowns. I’ll be playing absent minded Dr. Frankenstein and going back to finish both installments in the immediate future, but for now they’ll remain “lost episodes” while I move on to (much) bigger and (MUCH) better things. Speaking of…
When Toho has taken to “rebooting” their main monster moneymaker’s movies in the past (Godzilla 1985 and Godzilla 2000), they did so by building off of the legacy of the original 1954 black & white unnatural disasterpiece. Hel, every installment of Big G’s Millennium series of flicks (with the exception of Tokyo S.O.S., which sequalized Against MechaGodzilla) were each, in themselves, separate sequels to King of the Monsters! Finally, half a century after God (Tomoyuki Tanaka) graced Earth with the grandest of grand Atomic Age monstrosities, Toho has gone back to the nuclear nightmare drawing board to not just start a new chapter, but a whole new book.
Unlike many Godzilla movies before, directors Anno and Higuchi waste no time jumping into the action. A mysterious undersea disturbance has suddenly activated offshore and made its way without delay straight into Tokyo Bay. And that’s not okay! The entire government goes into panic mode, half wanting to know what the threat is, half wanting to blow the fuck out of whatever it is, and half wondering if it can be contained or just driven back into the sea. If that doesn’t add up, don’t blame me. I haven’t taken a math class in 15 years and technology has made me stupid and dependent and… and… and unable to think of a third adjective. Poopie.
Anyway, as we watch elected officials scramble for data like Pizza Rat scurrying for a fresh slice, we the audience have a pretty solid hypothesis of just what it is that’s about to emerge from beneath the surf. Rather than stomping upon the shores of the rising sun though, this new kaiju instead swims its big finned backside from the bay straight into the Tama River, taking a tidal wave of upturned schooners and other sea crafts with it. The scene kinda reminds you of news footage from marinas hit by hurricanes. Like a boat warehouse came to life and the trauma of this ungodly abomination developing a fully functional digestive tract caused it to barf its overstock all over the place. Not unlike how I ended up last Labor Day when Boozerville Bottles & Kegs had a 3-for-1 sale on Tenafly Viper.
Leading biologists are called in for their expertise, but with such limited information available, none are willing to risk their reputations by make any guesses on just what to expect from the leviathan. The wankers are about as helpful as an atlas to a blind hitchhiker. Instead, a low ranking member of the Environmental Ministry (who happens to be an old college buddy of of our main protagonist, Shimura) chimes in with her observations, declaring the creature to be some manner of marine serpent, but one that’s grown flipper-like legs similar to a lung fish that would be crushed under the weirdo’s own weight were it ever to attempt going ashore. No sooner does the Prime Minister deliver such assurances to the citizenry via press conference, then with almost “F Troop” levels of pinpoint comedic timing, the monster sets its very large feet on land! And by the hoary holes of Yog-Sothoth is this beastie an all-over butterface.
Appearing nothing like the Godzilla teased to us in the movie’s promotional materials, I thought this abhorrent chicken of the sea was instead going to be the harbinger for the new king of the monsters, similar to the way 1985 prefaced the big guy’s eventual appearance with the massive radioactive parasite insect opening scene. That was one of the most pants pissingly terrifying movie moments of my childhood by the way, for anyone out there putting together a tin of trivia cards based on my exploits.
Anyway, this nightmarish amalgamation of Michael Crichton fiction and Jacques Cousteau fact turns out to be our titular Tokyo terrorizer! Resembling what would happen if a giant Moray eel and an Allosaurus had unprotected sex on top of a toxic waste dump, only to throw their resultant spawn into a dumpster fire following birth, this completely computer generated Jurassic juggernaut thankfully evolves like a friggin’ Pokemon with a Fire Stone up its butt! Climbing Darwin’s ladder with a quickness that would make Usain Bolt in Acme Rocket Shoes™ look like Droopy Dog doped up on Slo-Mo in comparison, the bug-eyed goliath becomes an upright walking, four limbed, air breathing horror show in a matter of hours, taking a shape more akin to the one-monster demolition team promised us… though still sporting a pair of googly-eyes that straddle the line between goofy and unnerving. He quickly retreats back into the Bay upon being confronted by the nation’s Self-Defense Force, though, allowing his human antagonists time to slap together a counterattack for his inevitable return. Like those friggin’ Salvation Army bell ringers that hang outside of the supermarkets every December, only less irritating and more dangerous.
Post rampage info shows that the monster powers itself with its own biological nuclear reactor, which means this Chernobyl on two legs (and with a hell of a lot of teeth) poses more of a threat to the citizenry of Japan than just collateral infrastructure damage. Good thing their weird pop culture obsession with virtually dating animals and marrying their pillows already has their birthing rates down, or they’d be in for a generation of flipper babies and tentacled toddlers! In a joint fact finding effort with the US Department of Energy, the creature’s likely origin comes from unregulated offshore disposal of radioactive waste materials some 60 years earlier. A Japanese biologist named Dr. Maki (who has since gone missing, leaving his private research materials behind for whomever found them) theorized that the superbeast was an ancient form of Lovecraftian deep sea horror that was altered by its exposure to the material way down in the ocean trenches. As the Americans call it (for no given reason), this “Godzilla” fed on the nuclear smorgasbord, growing and transforming into the mountainous menace it is today.
So, even after removing the marketing divisive material about the nuclear nightmare America inflicted upon their shores with Fat Man and Little Boy, Godzilla is still birthed from nature pointing up the folly of men? Okay. Well, as one born under “the red, white and blue”, I’m a little disappointed to see the consequential guilt trip of my government’s disgustingly short-sighted and irresponsible acts of wars past no longer used as the catalyst for further devastation. Then again, I suppose we got our fair share of penance when we shot ourselves in the foot with Zilla Takes Manhattan, so you can only expect a nation to endure so much. You’re the bigger man, Japan. Bigger than even Big Man Japan. Thank you.
When the demonic colossus reappears from the sea that spawned it, ‘Zills has once again transitioned, this time into the horror show that the advertising materials promised us. Now twice his previous size, his big dead salmon eyes have been replaced with beady little death gazers and the scads of random beastly fangs jutting from his mouth hole have, well, been joined by more of the same. He’s also rocking the newest iteration of his classic theme music, which should give fellow longtime fans a spine shiver as this ghastly goliath does right by his mantle and gets started turning the cityscape into an ’80s post-apocalyptic movie set designer’s wettest wet dream. Making His way to Tokyo, presumably to the nuclear power facility housed there, the government initiates a show of military force (partially so as not to appear dickless in the global political locker room) to stop Godzilla, or at least slow His progress while they work on a contingency plan to shut Him down. If you’ve ever seen any such show of “force” in a Toho flick past, you know how this is going to end.
The Defense Force’s hardware is even more ineffective now as it was in past movies, with current regeneration G not even acknowledging the machine gun fire and missiles exploding in his face. A lovely little testament about how you can’t destroy the embodiment of national PTSD with physical force. Artillery fusillades are as effective as roman candles and Red Ryder BB guns, while bomber payloads don’t even make him blink… well, he doesn’t have eyelids, so blinking is impossible anyway (kinda shitty evolution you’ve got there, boy-o), but you get the gist of my cliche.
With the nation’s neutered attack force (that’s what you get for aligning with Hitler!) seeing their best efforts barely even diverting the demon’s gaze, the US stick their military industrial complex shaped dick into the action on their allies’ behalf. What kind of “Mission Accomplished” banner moment will this cowboy cavalry carpet-bombing bring about? I won’t spoil it, but I’ll tell you this much for free – things go from “national tragedy” to “all seven levels of Hell on Earth at once” in less time than it takes an episode of “Shin Chan” to expose a child’s penis!
The USA thinks its strong-arm siege tactics are a fix-all, but said “problem solver” just leads to generational levels of devastation instead? Well played, Anno-san. I knew you wouldn’t let the nation of John Wayne escape the barbs of your lampoon harpoon. There shall never be forgiveness for The Conqueror from any Asian power, you racist bastards!
In light of the epic failure of the attempted efforts of the USAF bombing on Godzilla, the UN proposes that the nuclear option is the only means remaining if the rest of the world want to safeguard themselves against their own visits of retaliation from the 400ft tall atomic Krampus. Can Godzilla be put down without the Land of the Rising Sun being turned into the Land of the World’s 24 Hour Nightlight? Will our heroes be able to stand up to the Beast of Tokyo Bay before the Hell’s Highway paving good intentions of the rest of the planet leave the entire island bombed back to the Stone Age? Well, if the Stone Age were known for being an irradiated wasteland unable to support life of any kind. That’s such a stupid statement when you think about it. How does carpet-bombing the fuck out of a place denote that its surviving citizenry will be devolved back into stone tool using cave dwellers somehow? I’m pretty sure that said survivors would retain their knowledge of modern education and technology, keeping them well above the status of even a Flinstonian existence, let alone the actual Stone Age.
The big point of all this is that NONE OF IT MATTERS, because whether or not we hairless apes are actually able to cease or desist Godzilla, the radioactive fallout from his size 98,000 foot falls and blockbuster breath would leave the entire city (and likely much of the rest of the nation) UNFUCKING INHABITABLE FOR CENTURIES. Just ask this science-tician!
Kinda ruins the whole point of trying to stop Him, doesn’t it? I’d say our best option is to fast track those moon bases that Newt Gingrich promised us. Or hitch a ride to Metaluna with Exeter! You get used to the smell of mutants after a while. They’re just like our insects…just, you know, larger of course.
When you put aside all of the time periods and variances of the individual movies, when you boil the Godzilla filmography down in one of those Texas Chainsaw Massacre III oozing flesh pits, each movie is ultimately divided into one of two core categories: “Godzilla vs. Man” and “Godzilla vs. Monsters”. The kid inside me (don’t be gross, you sicko) can never get enough of the latter, but my adult self learned to appreciate the former once I figured out shit like symbolism. As such, as much as it would’ve been great to see what kind of charbroiled abomination the mind behind Evangelion could have turned Rodan or Anguirus into, I really enjoy the solo-kaijued Resurgence. Its treatment of Godzilla as an avatar for the real life Jigoku that Japan suffered through during the March 2011 tsunami and resultant Fukushima nuclear disaster is extremely effective. Emotional scenes of crews in radiation suits standing bravely in the face of the towering atomic inferno given form’s fatal exposure levels is a powerful tribute to the real life safety crews who made the same sacrifices to save their fellow countrymen from being engulfed in Fukushima’s fallout. I’m very curious to see if the long term effects of this new Godzilla’s first walking tour of Tokyo are felt in the sequel(s), much like people have feared the same long reaching damage of the Fuku.
On that note, like any Godzilla episode from either distinction, Resurgence‘s titular hellbeast is little more than a huge, grotesque, rampaging plot device as the movie is much more so about the drama of its human cast. Unlike most previous tales, which focused on lovably wacky protagonists and their supporting casts, this reboot takes its cues from the very first Godzapalooza. Everything is played VERY straight, with its cast of specialists and political figures engaged in nonstop research, devising panic suppression and resource management, and trying their best not to shit their pants while doing all of it in the heat of the moment… subconscious Asia joke not intended. While we’re on the subject though, does anyone else think it’s just some long standing typo that that song’s titled “Heart of the Moment”? Fucking progressive rock supergroups named after continents they weren’t even from! A POX ON THEE!
The characters aren’t really given much characterization (to the point that right now I couldn’t attach a name to a single one of them if my afterlife depended on it), as we only see them in “business mode” for the majority of the movie. It’s fine though, thanks to the deathly serious tone. In fact, the few moments of personality we do see from them are all the more impactful and by the end we’re not just giving a crap about some of these paper pushers and hand shakers, but giving a crap about where their paths continue on from here.
While their leaders try to keep their heads cooler than Mr. Freeze behind closed doors, we’re sporadically given the general public’s take on the tragedy too. Though lacking in any leading or supporting cast representation, the teeming masses are instead shown via scattered bits of found camera phone footage. These moments give us the man-on-the-street perspective just enough to help us relate to our brothers and sisters of the East without overstaying their welcome. Definitely a better use of the gimmick than making it the entire axis around which your production rotates… I’m looking (with seething derision) in your direction, Cloverfield!
Despite my “I wouldn’t piss on ’em if they were on fire” stance on found footage gimmicks, it’d be cool if Toho had put together some shorts based on these moments for the DVD release. Much in the way Marvel was doing their “One Shots” shorts, but introducing us to some normal people that could become characters in later movies. Or just as cheap shots to our feels boxes by getting us to connect with said people just to watch them die horribly. Those work too.
My favorite instance of the peasants’ part in the picture is seeing mobs of them gathered in the streets, protesting the government’s proposed destruction of Godzilla because they’ve instead chosen to hail the kaiju king as a living deity! Great for me, since this was exactly the foundation for my proposed sequel to Legendary’s 2014 Godzilla, in which the nuclear halitosis vomiting bohemoth and his own legion of worshipers would clash with the cultist followers of Cthulhu! Patience, Anubis. One day you’ll save up enough Marlboro Miles for that Cosmic Cube, then *BOOM!* Godzilla Vs. Cthulhu on every IMAX screen in the world!
Given my imperfect rating up above, I was going to have to start picking nits sooner or later. Now’s as good a time as any. Nit the First: size matters. Remember in my Godzilla 2000 review when I bitched about the hideous green screen effects that made Godzilla’s size unintentionally fluctuate frequently throughout? Well, as much as you’d think that wouldn’t be such a problem in Resurgence, what with every inch of the city smasher’s DNA being born of computers for the first time in a Toho flick, you’d be wrong. Once again Zillie’s proportions vary depending on the angle from which he’s portrayed. I ‘m sure the majority of viewers won’t mind, nor should they. But, if you’re like me and such inconsistencies drag over your brain like high gradient sandpaper, be prepared. Most of these moments come about as the result of some pretty spiffy shots too, so I’d rather sit through them and tell the shrill voice nagging me about it to join the voice that keeps telling me to run over teenagers in the streets and shut up for a few hours. It doesn’t change the fact that the issue still exists, but ignorance is bliss. Just ask climate change deniers!
Nit Picks Part Deux – From the visual spectrum, let us now give the ears a chance to air their grievances. Though much of the movie races along sans soundtrack (apropos for all the dramatic tension the actors are swimming in), there’s a jarring moment where something that sounds like a Japanese professional wrestler’s theme music kicks in… Seriously. Legit. I shit you not. This bizarre track comes complete with rocking guitar riffs that gave me aural flashbacks to the similarly misplaced six-string screeches that heralded Michael Myers’ moments of menace in Halloween 6! These would’ve been forgivable for a less serious showing, say in one of the Great One’s ’90s era monster mash mosh pit throwdowns. But here? Why!? Why would you ruin a New York Philharmonic concert by bringing a sick cow dressed like a member of Twisted Sister onto the stage to fart violently at the audience!? The rest of the music is the typical symphonic brilliance you’d expect from a Toho Godzilla outing, which makes this Bizarro World birthed harmonic rupturing all the worse. Such ear abuse I cannot excuse.
Nits III: Nits Go to College – Japan should really invest in some manner of sonar or seismic equipment. I mean, I know you can’t have a Godzilla flick without scenes of the panicked public in terrified mob mode, but how were the government NOT tracking His movements underwater?! Toho broke out the BIGGEST Godzilla ever (all because of some overcompensational pissing contest to one-up Legendary’s then biggest incarnation, which also happened to be the moniker’s biggest moneymaker), meaning this Mothrafucker’s gotta cause a LOT of earth shaking and tidal waving when his gigantic carcass comes a rumblin’ back outta Tokyo Bay! Also, shouldn’t the entire nation have been in a state of emergency after the skyscraping super mutant’s previous path of destruction!? We see kids in school uniforms and salarymen in business suits running for safety when they should’ve been home huddled around their TVs and ready to evacuate at the first sign of ANY undersea disturbance! For Fucker Von Fuckington’s sake, even if you take the seismic and oceanic shit out of the equation altogether (because you’re just being a contradictory asshole), the moment that they would’ve made visual contact with that giant ravaged lizard head poking up out of the water, the air raid sirens should’ve been turned to eleven! Instead, you’d think everyone in Tokyo were all looking away from the sea for about 20 minutes, then turned around to see Big G suddenly making fucking landfall!
I had a couple of other minor moments of misgiving with Resurgence I would have been happy to quantify, but they deal too much with certain perishable materials I’d rather not risk spoiling, so I’ll leave those to drift off into the ether as I wrap this up like I would Lil’ Anubis in a reverse gangbang. Not that I’ll ever be able to afford enough prostitutes to make that happen with my credit rating.
I really dig the direction Toho took with the G-Man’s new incarnation. The serious atmosphere, the return to Godzilla as a source of horror rather than heroics, His burnt and heavily scarred appearance, His hyper-evolving ability that opens the door for all manner of creative choices, and top shelf CG that warrants its hefty budget by putting the “special” into “special effects”. It all works so well, that this may trump my personal nostalgia bias and put Resurgence atop my list as my new favorite “Godzilla vs. Man” movie. I’m absolutely excited to see how Toho follows up, which is only swollen to painfully girthy levels having seen the little end credits tease. Yes, for any and all who hate the trend of end credit pop-up scenes, too fucking bad because they’re everywhere and will continue to be so. They’re the Bebe’s kids of movie gimmicks – they don’t die, they multiply.
And so it goes. Whether you call it Godzilla Resurgence or Shin Godzilla, it’s the second fantastic flick to bare the mantle of the King of Monsters in a three year period. If I weren’t an Atheist Death God, I’d think I’d died and gone to Heaven. Give me a bottomless A&W root beer float and a self-regenerating stuffed crust pizza and you may just have a convert on your hands! Between Legendary and Toho, it’s a damn good time to be a Godzilla fanboy/fangirl/fantrans/fansans. Our long time significant other and our side piece not only know about each other, but they’re both doing their best to appeal to us rather than trying to bump each other out of the picture! Could this lead to, dare I say it, a three-way?! Not just a three way, but a three way where we just sit back and they work together to give us the best 2 hours of our life!? I can’t help but feel selfish even thinking about it, but damn! Mirth! Joy! Celebration!
We’re damn sure as shit going to need the imaginary nuclear nightmare of Godzilla(s) to keep our minds off the impending real nuclear nightmare we’re all staring down. Hopefully they can prevent us from going insane from paranoia induced terror and eating each others’ faces as if they were fried in the Colonel’s 11 secret herbs & spices.
Damn… now I’m hungry.
Oh, and if you’re at all curious as to why Toho switched the title of the movie from Resurgence to Shin for the US release, it’s because they didn’t want anyone to mistake their movie having anything to do with Independence Day Resurgence. From the hushed whispers of the damned who have seen IDR, I think Toho made the right decision.
The Japanese Prime Minister’s proposal of a heavy tax increase on used-panty vending machines was a dark day for many, and the ripples were felt both by the common folk and the halls of government alike.
“Oshiro’s trying to pass of ‘turducken’ as a legitimate word! Somebody get the newest edition of ‘The Official Scrabble Dictionary’ and snuff out the flame of this dishonorable old cur’s rebellion against Emperor Triple Word Score!”
Looks like Venice during a rush hour gondola accident.
I told Barney to get the abortion, but he refused to be a “murderer”. Well, good luck singing “I Love You” to that thing every night for the next 18 years!
To your left you’ll see Sanrio’s Hello Kitty Farm, the Gigantor testing facility and the famous Cosplay Garment District. On the right is the legendary studio where the first tentacle rape cartoon ever was produced in 1947!
So the government’s elite anti-Godzilla intelligence detail operates out of the backroom of a Kinko’s?
An entire staff of interns are assembled to clear Representative Hentai’s browser history before news of his affair with the star of Fart Woman 7 becomes public.
You don’t want to be anywhere near a living nuclear reactor when its IBS starts acting up! Everybody RUN!
The world’s hardest game of Minesweeper!
That’s exactly how my roasts turn out any time I try to cook with my broiler.
Those clashing colors and patterns are a mess! The Japanese government really needs to a take a cue from their Nazi allies and get Hugo Boss to design their uniforms.
“I’m starting to worry that we went a little overboard with the architectural design for the new Jewish Community Center. Think we could get away with Trump’s ‘Microsoft Shapes’ excuse on this one?”
If Freddy Krueger fucked Denver the Last Dinosaur and their baby was passed through an x-ray machine a few hundred times before abandoning it at the bottom of an active volcano, you’d get that.
THIS is why you shouldn’t hold in your farts all day. ESPECIALLY if you get your breakfast from Taco Bell!
Anubis will return next time in
“Faster, Frankenstein! Kill! Kill!”
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Because what else could we end this on?
Happy Hanukkah, my hebrews and shebrews!
The Rock N Roll Nightmare Before Christmas – in which we’re reminded the authentic reason we celebrate this season: that time in 1987 when The One True Thor defeated foam-rubber Satan (and his Wacky Wall Walker minions) using only the power of His oiled pecs, His blown out man-perm, and His legendary studded codpiece of Intercession.