Godzilla Minus One

When a Japanese Monster Movie Gives Hollywood A Sucker Punch

In May, I wrote about my experience with Apple’s TV+ service, and as part of that, I talked about how horrible I thought their TV show “Monarch — Legacy of Monsters” was. Here is what I had to say about it:

At some point I had to stop watching because it was simply too absurd. Yes, silly entertainment is fine, but when it’s absolutely brainless, I cannot stomach it.

Me, modestly quoting myself.

A couple days ago, I watched a monster movie that was exactly the opposite: Godzilla Minus One. I had heard about it, and knew that it was better than the average big monster spectacle. But when I actually did see it, I was really amazed. Amazed by one very simple thing — they made me care about the characters. My main gripe with most movies coming out of Hollywood today is that all too often, the characters do nothing for me. There seems to be no interest on behalf of many US filmmakers (or the studios that control their output) to create compelling and interesting characters. Time and time again, I find myself tuning out because the characters on the screen either make no sense, or are simply uninteresting, or a combination of both.

Contrast that with Godzilla Minus One. You think it’s no more than a silly monster film, and yet, it does characters right. There is an actual painful, relatable story going on in that film, and Godzilla’s appearance and effect on the world exacerbate that story. It’s about a man who comes out of World War II with terrible trauma, or a combination of traumas, and now Godzilla piles on top of that trauma. And the question we ask ourselves is: Can this man, this tormented man, pull himself out of his misery and find new meaning for his life?

Here is the trailer:

Godzilla Minus One — official trailer on YouTube

It’s an unreal story. But with real people in it.

And suddenly, I care. And suddenly it matters to me what happens. I want to know how it ends, and celebrate his victory and suffer through his defeats — with him.

If you want to get an in-depth discussion about the central character’s journey, I can recommend the video which the two guys at Cinema Therapy made about it (ALERT: massive spoilers!):

Cinema Therapy on “Godzilla Minus One”

For some reason, Hollywood does not seem to be able to do this kind of thing anymore. Right?

Which brings us to the kicker: The budget was $10—12 million. May I repeat this? 10 to 12 million US dollars! Nowadays, most US blockbuster directors won’t even tie their own shoes for that type of money. And the best thing yet — the film won the Oscar for best special effects!

When US studios make a film like this today, it has a shit story, and a budget of a 200 million US dollars.

I’ll be honest and say: This gives me hope for the future of cinema. Great stuff can be done, as long as people know what they are doing. They just don’t seem to be doing it in the USA anymore.