Godzilla Minus One is the Godzilla movie we needed

Godzilla Minus One - ©2023 Toho Studios
Godzilla Minus One - ©2023 Toho Studios /

Godzilla Minus One is a timeless, epic masterpiece that will forever shape the future Kaiju movies we’re to see.

I am a big (but small) Godzilla fan.

Though I am a MonsterVerse-inclined Godzilla fan, I do enjoy Toho Studios’ movies, so when I sat down in theaters to watch Godzilla Minus One, I knew it’d be one for the books.

What I didn’t know was just how much I’d cry during this absolute masterpiece.

SPOILER WARNING for those who have not watched Godzilla Minus One – I am talking about everything that happened in the movie. Please don’t let me spoil this for you – this movie is much better as an experience rather than a read.

Let’s get on with it, shall we?

Godzilla Minus One. Image courtesy Toho International, Inc.
Godzilla Minus One. Image courtesy Toho International, Inc. /

This isn’t just a Godzilla movie. This is a war movie. Taking place in post-WW2 Japan, we see Japan and its citizens trying to put their lives back together, struggling with their shame and fears, struggling with such a tremendous loss as they’re surrounded by air raid rubbles, corpses, and broken homes. We see our main guy, Koichi, a shamed kamikaze pilot who fled his duty because he didn’t want to die go though Godzilla attacks one after the other, and each time he loses more and more of his sanity.  We meet Noriko and little Akiko, and along with Koichi, they become a family unit trying to make it in such chaotic and horrible times.

Japan’s fragile state is only made worse by Godzilla emerging from the depths of the ocean and killing everything and everyone in his way.

For reference, if you’ve never really watched Toho Studios’ Godzilla movies, the Godzilla in Legendary Pictures’ MonsterVerse has a completely different temperament and look as the Toho Studios Godzilla.

Godzilla Minus One. Image courtesy Toho International, Inc.
Godzilla Minus One. Image courtesy Toho International, Inc. /

For starters, MonsterVerse Godzilla has the “Hey! These humans are my toys and only I can break them, and If another titan touches my humans, I’ll kill them! There can be only one titan, and that is me!” mentality. Toho Studios’ Godzilla has mostly a “I hate everyone equally, y’all are all going to die” way of living, and this is only made even more painfully obvious in Godzilla Minus One.

As far as looks, MonsterVerse’s Godzilla is much more majestic and huge (and has a much more equally proportioned body), with a much more chill-inducing roar that I could listen to over and over again. Toho Studios’ has a much more rugged look to him – tiny head, tiny arms like a T-Rex, chunky thighs, and a rounder belly, with a much more primal and dinosaur-like roar.

These differences are everything in this movie. Godzilla’s attacks are senseless, and brutal, with no rhyme or reason. In other words, he’s squishing people on the ground purely because he can – and that’s terrifying. I was actually afraid of this Godzilla and I really did not want it to win – which, if you know me, you’re probably about to message me and ask me if I’m feeling well. Trust me, I am. This was just an insanely good movie with an awful and cruel Godzilla.

The attack on Ginza, for instance, is brutal. When Godzilla uses his heat ray, it hits basically like an atomic bomb – buildings, cars, rubble, and people are dismantled and thrown around the town as a huge wave follows the impact. This is where I started crying, as did the two male and one female strangers next to me and throughout the theater.

Noriko sacrificing herself for Koichi so he could live cut deeply. Her funeral… was heartbreaking. Little Akiko, the little girl who called Noriko and Koichi “mom and dad” even though she was a child Noriko saved as the mother died, asks where Noriko is. The way that child cried for her “mother” has been echoing in my brain for the last 19 hours. As a mother who won’t be seeing her very young daughters for a week, I did not need to experience that (shame-shoutout to my friends Guile and Eric, who saw the movie and told me to bring tissues but not why I had to bring tissues).

Godzilla Minus One – ©2023 Toho Studios
Godzilla Minus One – ©2023 Toho Studios /

Godzilla Minus One does an incredible job at showing us how unhappy the Japanese citizens were with their government, citing the fact they were expected to die for their country, the fact that fighter pilot aircrafts had no ejector seats, and the fact they’d just send more of them to die in order to fight the Godzilla threat. The civilians, led by ex-navy and ex-military men, come up with their own plan to defeat Godzilla, come up with resources and materials, and come together to try to protect their country in a way where nobody has to die.

The emotional rollercoaster of little Akiko crying for Noriko once again (it is still echoing in my head), Koichi saying he wouldn’t be leaving her as he tucked her in for the night just to leave her in the early hours of the morning to join the fight against Godzilla, and the absolute suspense in the entire following sequence had me chewing on my nails. They’re able to temporarily destroy Godzilla, though they all think it was a certain end to the giant radioactive lizard, and Koichi walks away after his plane was fitted with an ejector seat for the first time. The icing on the cake was Noriko being alive but injured after we saw her literally fly away during the Ginza attack.

But… there’s a catch.

Right at the end, we see something black snaking around the skin on her neck. Could it be advanced Godzilla radiation poisoning? Does everyone who got blasted in Ginza have it? Is it contagious? Is she going to turn into the next Godzilla? This all remains to be seen.

Honestly, Godzilla Minus One is the movie of the year for me. Yes, I adored Barbie, and I really enjoyed Oppenheimer. But GMO appeals to the horror of war, and what it does to the human psyche – the PTSD, the extra troubles you have to struggle with, the absolute horror of an atomic fallout while dealing with a seemingly unkillable monster. It shows us the ugly and selfish side of being a human, it shows you different family dynamics, and it emphasizes how teamwork and resilience are born in times of greater need.

I went into this movie with a completely blank slate. I hadn’t watched the preview, I hadn’t read what it was about. I left the movie inspired, with swollen eyes and a runny nose, and I went over all the details in my head all over again. This isn’t a movie you only watch once. This is a timeless, epic masterpiece that will forever shape the future Kaiju movies we’re to see.

Godzilla Minus One is an S-tier movie.

If you haven’t watched it yet, why did you read this and what are you waiting for?

Next. Several Kaiju in need of the Minus One treatment. dark