SHIN GODZILLA Blu-Ray Review

Sometimes, you take what you can get. Mostly worth it.

shin godzilla blu-ray

In my personal opinion, Shin Godzilla was one of the best films of 2016. That’s not exactly the accomplishment it would be in either 2015 or 2017, so far, but it’s nevertheless true.

Regardless of your own Kaiju pedigree, Shin Godzilla is a towering, emotional, angry, and darkly hilarious film that takes everyone’s favorite irradiated monster back to the horror-as-sociopolitical-commentary roots that made him an enduring icon. The action-movie editing of boardroom bureaucracy scenes, interstitialized with wholesale monster carnage and kaiju body-horror (I call it Gody-horrorTM), makes for an exhilaratingly original experience that the big G hasn’t quite been able to achieve since roughly 1954. A haunting score and assured direction by Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi craft a Godzilla film that is alternately starkly angry at the failings of government in recent times, and powerfully hopeful that an emergent national culture based more on decisiveness and collaboration than deference to historical norms and institutions will forge a stronger Japan than the world has ever known. Y’all they are also very unimpressed with American thirst for Japanese culture. Girl, bye.

Since experiencing this in limited stateside theatrical release, I’ve been hungry for any information around its release on Blu-Ray. Mainly to deflating results, as it soon became apparent that this import was going to be bare. I’m sad to report that this is absolutely the case, as Funimation has released a product devoid of any meaningful content beyond the brilliant film, which is thankfully viewable with both subtitles and english dub. Unlike most American produced fare, there’s no clear idea of if or when we might see future releases with more meaningful extra content such as commentaries, documentaries, retrospectives, and the like. The sole piddling ‘extra’ is a glorified video podcast with American Funimation employees and Matt Frank, artist on several Godzilla comics produced by IDW. I don’t begrudge them their fun fan conversation, but I also don’t really consider it worthy of inclusion.

Still, I think there’s something to be said for the Blu, DVD, and Ultraviolet copies included of both subbed and dubbed versions of the film, which feels like about as much a win as I can scrape out of the comparatively pricey release. The versatility now available in viewing this must-see phenom is a welcome benefit, and quite frankly, it’s enough for me. For now. I’m also faintly impressed at the quality of the vocal performances in the dubbed version of the film, which is by no means an expectation that I had going in, as even the best dubs tend to rob native actors of their own performance and agency. The dub performances are emotional, relatively devoid of ham, and reasonably effective. It’s a nice surprise on a disc that doesn’t boast many of those.

This is a film that must be seen. But more importantly, this is a film that must be seen more than once to fully appreciate. I’m glad I have multiple venues by which to do that. In the long franchise history this is the ROCKY BALBOA, sandwiching decades of mostly fun, if shallower entries, with a triumphant return to form which hopefully heralds a CREED-to-come (would Godzy Jr. fill that role? Or some Destoroyah offspring?). One can debate whether GIANT MONSTERS ALL OUT ATTACK or VS. DESTOROYAH are our ROCKYs III or IV.

I digress.

Consider it worth the inevitable double dip, mostly.

  • I need to rewatch this. I saw it at Fantastic Fest but it was late in the festival and frankly… I started dozing off. I liked how it seemed like a version of IN THE LOOP with a kaiju, but I didn’t find it very compelling. I don’t know how much of that was due to my exhaustion though.

    • ryanrochnroll

      This is not a film that benefits from divided attention. It needs to be absorbed and dealt with on its own terms.

    • SmithDoc

      it’s really really good. it’s my most re-watched film in the last year. once you figure out its rhythm, it’s kind of incredible.

  • Andrew Clark

    Love this movie. One of my favorites of last year, too. Pity to hear that it doesn’t get a good treatment on home release…extras are one of the big reasons I love physical media.

    • ryanrochnroll

      It would be insulting if the film weren’t presented so well.

  • SmithDoc

    there’s an imported edition from australia (requires region free player or software) that features some of the special features, subbed, from the original japanese blu-ray.

    a far bigger issue with the home video release is the alteration of the subtitles and japanese text used in the theatrical release. in the theatrical release, every character was introduced with a very graphical name and professional title – the sheer number of characters meant that this took on an overwhelming, obviously deliberate and satirical effect. with the japanese on-screen text removed for the us home video release, that particular charm has been lost. and there is, to me, an enormous ethical question being raised there, too -especially for film historians.

    • ryanrochnroll

      I’m a little confused, as my copy still had the bewildering title overlays competing with subtitle text I remembered from the theatrical. Were you referring to the Australian import not having them?

      • SmithDoc

        so this is the funimation blu-ray version, right? i bought mine in canada – maybe it’s different here…

        • ryanrochnroll

          That could be it. Yes, this is the American release Funimation disc, though I don’t see why we would have different NA ones. Still mine is bafflingly titled, just like I loved in the theater.

          • SmithDoc

            there are always curious differences. mine doesn’t have a digital copy, for instance, and when i do get a digital copy with blu-rays here, they won’t play in the united states.

            and yes, i really loved the character names and professional titles taking up the screen as they did – so i feel like i’m missing out.

          • ryanrochnroll

            That’s completely wack. As mentioned above, mine came with both subbed and dubbed digital copies, which was the thing that put this over the top from being a shameless waste of money.

            Hey LMK if you ever come by a copy of License Expired, a Canadian James Bond collection (books) from after the license lapsed into public domain

          • SmithDoc

            so, i’m actually going to a bookstore here in a couple minutes (looking for some ken liu books). will check this out for myself.