Monsters have become too cool. Many of them have always had that erotic side, but as of late it has felt that all monsters have become more or less vessels for dumbed down shit. They’ve become children’s toys. They’ve become too cool rather than something to be feared.
I was not sold on Shin Godzilla’s look when it was first revealed. After all these years of cool Godzilla designs, I was not expecting TOHO to go back and make the King of Monsters to stand by its name. This Godzilla, headed by Hideaki Anno (for both good and bad) looks like a monster. It’s malformed, covered in keloid scarring just like the original and has those scrawny, disproportioned arms. It’s face has a twisted sort of grin with irregularly protruding teeth. Its bone structure is visible various spots, like it had lost muscle mass from certain parts of its body and is dragging them along. The way it holds its arms high up like that, never seemingly moving or extending them looks like it really can’t due to their malformation and pain involved.
This single dot eye is not intelligent. It’s horrified and in pain. Those yellowed teeth that just grow out wherever adds to the suffering. Keloid scarring can be very, very painful and imagine if your whole body was covered in them. On top of that, that red seems like it is pulsating radioactivity all the time. Godzilla should be devastating even with its simple presence, and it would seem that Anno is not ignoring this.
For whatever reason, this was a stopping moment for me. I have liked most Godzilla designs throughout the ages, but none of them went back to the original 1954 look. Godzilla has gradually been redesigned to be sleeker and sleeker with more defined and heroic look to it. Heisei-era Godzilla starting with Vs. Biollante has been the iconic look for the monster for the last two and a half decades, even to a point that it has been used over the Millennium/X-series designs. This, however, is a total throwback, ignoring most if not all the grand heroic history and making him monstrous again.
The initial image we saw of this Shin Godzilla (be it new or true) looked like it had a stupid Joker-like grin. It grew on me with time, because it’s supposed to be unsettling, but the front view of the monster doesn’t look like it’s grinning. To put it simply, it looks like a face of a monster that has gone to hell and back.
Maybe the idea of modelling Godzilla to be realistic, animal like has been the wrong step. The idea of this monster is horrible, and its visage should mirror its nightmarish status. The original Godzilla discussed how man had created technology that would devastate if not kept in check, and it feels that Anno wants to evoke that same sentiment, most likely using Fukushima accident as the springboard. As long as the movie does not begin to preach that all nuclear technology is of the devil, but how man has grown complacent and blind to both benefits and dangers of the atomic power, it’s good.
This is, without a doubt, the most horrifying depiction of Godzilla. It became a hero, then an anti-hero to whatever the Millennium/X-series directors wanted it to be; a ghost, an animal or just a fighting machine. This is me repeating it, but this is a nightmare walking on Earth.
The best part of the movie is that it combines both traditional practical effects. I’m glad to see Anno’s tendencies with tokusatsu comes through. All that said, I am holding back on everything else before I finally see the movie. Anno has a spotty track record, with Evangelion being a great piece of television while being one of the worst at the same time. The latest Rebuild movie has not been all that well received, but this is a movie he can’t fail. Not because he is infallible or anything like that, but because this is without a doubt a moment in his life that requires the best he can do, and this is once in a lifetime chance for Godzilla to be an intellectual horror movie the original was.
Against my better judgement, I am looking forwards to this movie and expecting great things from it.