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Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

The king has returned

Marina Martinez
Godzilla Minus One was nominated for the oscar’s visual effects award. It is the first Godzilla film to be nominated for an oscar.

I grip my friend’s hand with anticipation. I sit in silence as a shrill, haunting roar rings through my ears.

The ground trembles with every step it takes. My eyes are fixed on the screen, entranced by the stunning monstrosity standing before me. Surrounding the giant beast is the chaos and death it caused.

He is known as the king of monsters, the god of destruction. The one and only Godzilla.

Godzilla Minus One’ is the 37th film in the Godzilla franchise that came out Dec. 1, 2023 . A product of Toho Studios, Takashi Yamazaki wrote and directed it with a budget between $10-15 million.

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When I first saw the trailer for this film, I was consumed with excitement. And it fills me with joy to say I was not disappointed. There was never a second in that theater where I got bored or wasn’t absolutely amazed. This is truly a masterpiece of a film that I would love to watch again for the first time.

The movie takes place in post World War II Japan, when the country was at its lowest and trying to rebuild. The story focuses on Kōichi Shikishima, played by Kamiki Ryunosuke, who is a kamikaze pilot who abandoned his position out of fear and goes in for repair at Odo Island for his allegedly damaged plane. While on the island, he encounters Godzilla, marking the start of Kōichi’s nightmare as well as the rest of Japan’s.

Over the years, as Godzilla’s character has been revived repeatedly, many different interpretations of him have risen. Godzilla has been remade to tell all different kinds of stories, both from the original Japanese studio and western ones. While I do enjoy the variety of these films and the diverse portrayals of Godzilla, I have to say that I love the movies where he is terrorizing mankind.

The film has received very good praise from both the audience and critics alike. It has recently become the highest grossing Japanese language film to ever be released in the United States. (Ella Sotiriades)

‘Godzilla Minus One’ is a film that portrays Godzilla doing just that. He is a chaotic monster who possesses the terrible power of weapons like the atomic bomb, using it to take out his anger on unsuspecting people nearby.

I always find it interesting in these movies how the humans come up with different ways to defeat Godzilla. In the original 1954 movie, Godzilla was defeated with a new scientific creation called an oxygen destroyer that reduced him to nothing but bones. In Shin Godzilla, they freeze him using a coagulant. It gives the movie an ending that feels like you’re defeating the final boss in a video game, and I love them all for that.

His design is also one of my favorites. It resembles a mix of the original, Final Wars and Shin Godzilla. His face is much rounder, like the original, but keeps a more modern look with detailed features and sharper aspects. His body is bulkier, similar to the Legendary Pictures Godzilla but much rounder compared to the sharper design that Legendary Godzilla sports. His legs are also much larger to hold up his body weight, contributing to his less outlandish design compared to other Godzillas.

And the way his back spikes work is my favorite out of all Godzilla designs I’ve seen. When you first look at them, they seem a bit weird as if they stick out of his body too much. They look like giant v-shaped, thin, spiky scales protruding out of his back. It’s not until you see him unleash his atomic breath that the way the spikes look finally make sense.

Unlike other interpretations that only have a kind of fire breath or glowing laser beam, Godzilla’s atomic breath in this film is very unique. First, his back spikes start piercing into his body one by one, glowing in the process. This acts as sort of a charging system, which I think is very cool because it builds suspense and anticipation for the immense power of his attack. And his beam doesn’t just leave fire and smoke, this one leaves a huge, hazy mushroom cloud.

When I first saw his atomic breath scene in theaters, I was blown away. Other than Shin, there’s not many Godzilla films that showcase the intense raw power that his atomic breath holds.

I also like how much smaller this portrayal of him is. It is said that the bigger the monster the scarier it is, and while that’s true to an extent, there’s something very terrifying about a monster that can actually acknowledge your presence.

Standing out the most though, would be his eyes. They aren’t lizard-like nor fish-like eyes. They have round irises, and you can see the whites of the eyes. They seem almost human.

The director and writer Takashi Yamazaki oversaw the special effects for Godzilla Minus One. He spent three years writing the script, taking inspiration from past Godzilla movies as well as Jaws. (Marina Martinez)

Overall, this Godzilla design is one of the best and most impressive. Despite the low budget and small team, they made Godzilla look very realistic.

And not only are they true to Godzilla as a character, but they also have a truly interesting human story. A story so good, it made me cry and root for the people to actually win for once.

The characters in ‘Minus One’ have well-written backstories, personalities and all play an integral part in the film. While this is also true for other Godzilla movies, I feel like ‘Minus One’ touches more harshly on the themes of trauma, hope, guilt and redemption with its characters.

This is especially prominent with the main character, Kōichi, who shares many parallels with Godzilla. Throughout the movie it always feels like Godzilla is following him, from their first encounter in Odo Island to the end of the film. I saw this as Godzilla being a personification of Kōichi’s trauma and guilt as a war survivor, his past always haunting him.

The wondrous characters played by fabulous actors are accompanied by something I can only call my awakening love for this movie’s score. The 17 tracks composed by Naoki Satō are all I’ve been listening to these past few weeks. They accompany the film so well, intensifying everything you feel in every scene you watch. Some of my absolute favorite tracks are “Hope”, “Unscathed” and “Elegy”, along with all the Godzilla Suites. They bring out the themes of the movie so well and are an absolute joy to listen to.

Along with the gorgeous filmmaking, story and music, this movie has done something that elevated the experience to a level some films can just barely reach.

The movie was released again in theaters, but this time, it was in black and white.

The director did this due to the team wondering what a Godzilla movie that was made with modern technology would look like in black and white. But they didn’t just change the colors to be gray scale, the colorist went back and changed the contrast by hand to make it look like a professional still photographer filmed it.

In an interview, the director said that re-releasing the film in black and white was meant to display the movie as a sort of documentary. In a way making the film more horrifying by having the audience believe such a terrifying creature actually exists.

I think this was an amazing move by the director and the rest of the movie’s team. Re-watching the film in black and white evokes more fear. In fact, it almost feels like you’re watching a different movie.

‘Godzilla Minus One’ is a hauntingly beautiful film. It fills you with hope one minute and despair the next. Even if you aren’t a Godzilla fan, I would still recommend watching this movie. It’s not just about a giant radioactive lizard, but about how our past affects us and how we have to continue moving forward, no matter how impossible it may seem.

I look forward to future Toho films as well as the possibility of a sequel from Takashi Yamazaki’s frighteningly creative mind. I know however Godzilla reappears on the big screen, he will reign over all.

Long live the king.

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    Joy XFeb 13, 2024 at 11:57 pm

    Great story, and I love the art!