Go Watch Godzilla Minus One For Giant Lizards, Boats And Planes

Godzilla Minus One is a triumph. You owe it to yourself to go watch the movie over holiday break and then go for a rewatch in black and white when that version is released. If you love monster movies, or war movies, or really just about anything with cool planes and boats in it, you’ll love Godzilla Minus One.

The movie was first released at the start of December and quickly garnered critical acclaim. It also broke box office records and was generally just hard to avoid online. I didn’t pay it much attention at first. It’s not that I didn’t want to believe the hype; It was more a case of my not bothering to care for a formulaic movie, which I suspected it would be. I could not have been more wrong.

GODZILLA MINUS ONE Official Trailer 2

Toho Studios knocked it out of the park. This is one of the best film’s I’ve seen all year, and one of the best Godzilla movies to have come out recently — if not ever. I say that not just as a lover of kaiju films, but as a gearhead, too.

There are so many neat planes, trains and boats in the movie, some of which are flung like children’s toys in the service of showing how terrifying director Takashi Yamazaki’s Godzilla can be. And for once, Godzilla is truly terrifying.

This is no watered down monster who wants to make friends with humans, nor is it an overgrown iguana looking for a place to lay its eggs. It’s a force of nature full stop. An avalanche with teeth or hurricane with scales. It shows up, breaks shit, then leaves in completely amoral fashion. It’s a natural phenomenon that people have little hope fighting against. And yet, people choose to fight back.

I won’t spoil any of the plot points, but will spoil at least one surprise appearance of a prototype fighter plane, which Toho replicated for the film in secret. The studio worked off one of the few existing Kyūshū J7W1 planes, also called the Shinden, making a model of it for use in the movie.

Image for article titled Go Watch Godzilla Minus One Not Just For The Monster, But For The Boats And Planes

Photo: Wikicommons

The Shinden is a canard plane, which you might recognize as a design like that of the Saab 37 Viggen. The Shinden’s build looks almost as if reversed from other contemporary planes, with its wings and propellor mounted further aft of the canopy. It’s a small and highly maneuverable craft, which is just what you want to take on a monster that is so massive, it’s basically a totem of fear.

The movie’s protagonist is a former kamikaze pilot joined by a lovable cast of plane mechanics, scientists and a naval captains, among others. The crew unite under the common goal of trying to stop Godzilla from ravaging the Japanese mainland, which is barely recovering from the Allied bombings of WWII and the detonation of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Godzilla has always been seen as a metaphor for those attacks — as a terrifying, enigmatic beast who came from the sea to raze en masse and crush underfoot whatever or whoever stood in its way. The crew band together to stop the monster, trying to do so aboard Imperial Japanese boats and the prototype plane. In the end, it makes for a movie that feels like a mashup of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws and the films of Studio Ghibli. There’s a little Independence Day in there, too, but I’ll let you see for yourself. Just go watch it. Trust me.

Image for article titled Go Watch Godzilla Minus One Not Just For The Monster, But For The Boats And Planes

Screenshot: Toho Studios

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