Remember all the times America has tried to remake and refashion Godzilla (1954)? Cool! Neither do I, because this teaser for the upcoming Godzilla Resurgence (or Shin Gojira, which delightfully could mean anything from True Godzilla to God Godzilla) is so much better than any of those movies or cartoons in their entirety. I would trade a hundred Hank Azaria cabbies, a thousand sobbing Bryan Cranstons, for what we’re being gifted with here. Take a look:
I don’t need to belabor the point, do I? True: the early trailers for Gareth Edwards’s 2014 Godzilla promised a similar level of gravitas and awe, but the final product didn’t deliver and was perversely uninterested in delivering, even. A Godzilla movie doesn’t demand gravitas, of course, but if you’re not going to go all in on “atomic tragedy” you should probably stick with option B, “monster fistfight.”
Resurgence looks like it knows exactly what it’s doing. I mean, the teaser above kicks off with Godzilla screaming about something, then an ominous low-angle shot of his tail sweeping over an entire city block, and then we get a look at him! No one’s being coy here. Here is Godzilla, broad daylight, standing around in a Godzilla movie.
My man is not looking so good, however. His teeth are sort of overgrown and spindly, his hands are super small and gnarled, and he’s got some kind of glowing skin thing happening all over.
These glimpses are so effective, in fact, that the rest of the trailer being largely Godzilla-free is not a problem. It’s got sort of a The Host (2006) vibe—a lot of panicked bureaucrats and urban destruction. I have to imagine that imagery like this is particularly loaded for a nation still recovering from its most recent nuclear disaster:
It’s a fairly sure bet that co-directors Shinji Higuchi (a veteran of the 90s Gamera movies) and Hideaki Anno (yes, that Hideaki Anno, the ruthless son-of-a-bitch who created anime phenomenon Neon Genesis Evangelion) can balance potent subtext with the earthier demands of a kaiju movie.
Am I an easy mark for this, having spent almost my entire life in a love affair with this dumb radioactive lizard? Yes. But the wrathful, almost Biblical treatment of the material here should be its own draw. This Godzilla is not a hokey, well-intentioned environmental parable, nor a goofball franchise character: it’s a plague, twisted and malformed by hate, roiling with sickness and heralding death. It’s nuclear meltdowns and dying planets and fascist politicians and crumbling societies made necrotic, malevolent flesh.
Godzilla Resurgence is due to hit Japan on July 29th, 2016.